The international community was shocked by Egyptian President’s visit to Jerusalem in November 1977. A peace proposition was suggested by him and it was quite surprising, taking into account the previous Egypt’s attack on Israel three years before this visit. This proposition was the beginning of the peace process and has a result in Egypt-Israeli Peace agreement signed in Camp David in September 1977. What were the reasons for negotiations and signing a peace agreement of these leaders that seemed to have absolutely opposite interest and goals?
Attempts to answer this question vary. The Camp David negotiations are rich with lessons for students of diplomacy, and they are worth revisiting as a case study. I will examine the events from two perspectives: the impact of two-level games and the characteristics of the leaders that made agreement possible. The first half of the study will trace the strategies of the players throughout the negotiations, and the second half will analyze how the outcomes were reached.
The background of the Arab-Israeli conflict is in an opposition of two kinds of nationalism that started in the late 19th century. Two major issues were disputable and vital for both sides: Palestine ownership and the position of Jewish country in the Arab world.
The conflict initiated in the Jewish search for a homeland and later in the middle of twentieth century British protectorate of Palestine was divided by United Nations into two independent states. Unfortunately the conflict outgrown into a fight and Arab Palestinian state has disappeared. Its territory was controlled by Israel state with two exceptions (for the Egyptian Gaza Strip and the Jordanian West Bank) (Eisenberg and Caplan 5-7).
The armed conflict was formed by these events and first Israeli-Egypt war has happened in 1956.
The second armed escalation took place in 1967 and was called a Six Day War. As a result of these last wr actions, Israel has gained a control over Golan Heights (tht previously belonged to Syria), the West Bank from Jordan, and Gaza and the Sinai that belonged to Egypt before. (Eisenberg and Caplan 7-11).
But then the United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 was approved by Arab world and the situation began to change. This UN Resolution has insisted and pressured Israel to give away the occupied territories. There were also promises to keep the borders as they were (it was regarded to all countries that signed the document). Thus, Israel officially was claimed as independent state.
Later in 1972, an improvement of these relationships seemed very possible and Egypt has made announcements that it’s very possible that the country will sign the peace agreement, but only under condition on return the territories that were occupied.
Unfortunately the United States paid more attention to the competition with the Soviet Union and therefore the chance of the peace treaty was lost. In 1973 joined armies of Egypt and Syria made an attack on Israel. (Telhami, Pew Study 1-2).
Summarizing it up, majority of analysts perceived these peaceful steps that were made by Egypt in 1973 and the consecutive war in 1973 have built an understanding of the need in peaceful finishing of this long lasting conflict .2
It also made an influence on two superpower states (the United States and the Soviet Union), they understood the need to find a solution and held meetings in order to discuss options, these meetings also included the participants from the Middle East region. It was suitable for Arab nations because they considered it as gaining more power than Israel. On the opposite to the mentioned above format of the meetings, bilateral negotiations were much better for Israel. But the consensus was not reached in Geneva in 1975. The disputable points for both parties were the issues of Palestinian representation and the fate of the occupied territories (Telhami, Pew Study 2-3). A leading role in the peaceful negotiations was taken by the US in the middle of 1970s. The superpower had various interests in he Middle East, especially the US-Israeli strategic partnership and of course the oil. Interestingly, by that time the parties of the conflict have demonstrated a good will and intention to renew the peace process. In reality, both countries have understood the number of advantages they could gain from the good partnership with the United States. (Telhami, Pew Study 3). By the end of 1970s, both American and Soviet Union effort were concentrated on this process and it resulted in renewal of the Geneva process (Stein 214-5). The idea was opposed by the conflict parties, therefore as an alternative they’ve chosen bilateral initiatives instead of Geneva meetings. It has started new phase of peaceful process and in a year time the Camp David negotiations took place.