The First Camp David Summit (1978)

The United States began to play a major role in the Israeli-Palestinian Crisis in 1978 during the first Camp David Summit. At the time, Jimmy Carter was the president of the United States and played a significant role in facilitating these talks. The critical actors were Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. (“Milestones: 1977-1980 - Office of the Historian”) The main issues that caused the summit to be held were over the proposition of Israel withdrawing from the Sinai desert, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. By doing this, the borders would be returned to the Six - Day War, and allow Palestinians to stop living under Israeli rule. (“Milestones: 1977-1980 - Office of the Historian”) However, this proposition was denied by Israel, and then Israel followed with another one that stated that Palestine would be given some sort of autonomy for a five year period that may lead to sovereignty. It is important to note though that no formal type of sovereignty was guaranteed by this proposition. Due to these negotiations beginning to quickly deteriorate, President Carter held the international summit. (“Milestones: 1977-1980 - Office of the Historian”)

The summit occurred from September 5 to the 17 in 1978. The talks initially were held with all representatives in the meetings, but soon were broken up in order to continue to make progress on the negotiations. Several aspects of the Israeli - Egyptian relationship were discussed, as well as the occupied territories of Palestine, notably the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. (“Milestones: 1977-1980 - Office of the Historian”)

Overall, the Camp David Summit of 1978 was a success as it brought Israel and Egypt together for the first time in a peaceful setting that laid the groundwork for a continued peace between the two. It also represented a hopeful step for the Palestinians in both Gaza and the West Bank as a plan for self-government was formed, and improved Palestinian life significantly over the next decade before the outbreak of the First Intifada.

The official Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty was not formally signed until March 26, 1979, and it was by no means a permanent peace deal. (“Milestones: 1977-1980 - Office of the Historian”) Although there was a possible self-autonomy aspect, there was none in the final deal. There would still be a long road in regards to peace between Israel, Egypt, and Palestine, but the Camp David Summit was a significant step forward, and showed that the U.S. could be a strong negotiating partner.

Works Cited

“Milestones: 1977–1980 - Office of the Historian.” Milestones: 1977–1980 - Office of the Historian, Accessed 8 March 2023.