The official signing of Camp David Accords took place in Washington D.C. in the March of 1979, where President Jimmy Carter played the role of the mediator. The accords were signed between Israel and Egypt, effectively handing over the contentious region of Sinai to Egypt, causing indignation to Palestinians and Arabs who felt their religious sentiments were ignored. The parties to the pact, Israel and Egypt also agreed to negotiate on the issue of Palestinian autonomy in Israel occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, which to this day remains strife torn and without any suitable political arrangement. The rest of this essay will discuss the reasons for Arab and Palestinian denouncement of the Accords and criticisms, if any, of the same.
It is an open secret that Israeli government is subordinate to orders from Washington D.C. Israel is heavily dependent on the United States for its military and diplomatic efforts. The United States too has strategic interests in the Middle East region, which is endowed with rich oil resources. Hence, most Arab states are suspicious of apparent acts of generosity and goodwill on part of Washington D.C. The Arabs see Camp David Accords as one episode in a century long American preoccupation with gaining control of oil resources in the region. Consistent with this view of American motives, the consequences of Camp David Accords have not yielded the Palestinians any concessions. If losing Mount Sinai, with all its rich historical and religious associations, to Egypt was a major blow, the subsequent indifference to the legitimate grievances of Palestinians has only exposed Israeli-American agenda. For example, when we carefully review the document entitled “Minutes of Meeting at U. S. Department of State, Wednesday, October 21, 1992” (which could be accessed from the Library of Congress website), it becomes obvious from this document that all of the American diplomats involved in the so-called peace process view the Interim Agreement as an extension of American “imperial strategic vision” set by the Camp David Accords and Framework. So, the internal government records from Washington D.C. make it abundantly clear that the concerns and aspirations of Palestinians was not even a consideration for the Israeli-American ruling elite. Seen in this light we can understand why Camp David Accords were denounced by Palestinians and most Arab states (Khalidi, 2006).
Indeed, if the Camp David Accords are seen in the context of American-Israeli interests, we can see why no substantial diplomatic manoeuvres were made to fulfil the stated objective of reaching a Final Settlement for the Israel-Palestinian issue. Further,
“the Camp David Accords called for an ‘interconnection’ between the Israeli-Egyptian Peace Treaty and a “Framework for Autonomy” for the Palestinians. The Egyptians bargained quite assiduously for this “interconnection” so as to avoid the appearance of concluding a separate peace between Israel and Egypt at the expense of the Palestinians. Nevertheless, after the implementation of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, the Israelis paid no attention whatsoever to this so-called ‘interconnection’ despite express language to that effect. The so-called Linowitz negotiations got nowhere because of Israeli stalling. Eventually the Linowitz negotiations died a quiet death after Carter lost the 1980 presidential election”. (Sprinzak, 1991)
Hence, the Arabs (including Palestinians) are quite right when they point out that the Israelis, with their masters from the West, will do everything they can to “stall, drag out, and indefinitely postpone and delay a Final Settlement”, while they continue to carry out oppressive military measures, occupy Arabs’ native lands and deprive them of basic human rights that were drafted into the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Sprinzak, 1991).
What little hope of justice Camp David Accords offered met a huge setback, when the hard-line Likud party rose to prominence in Israeli politics displacing the more moderate Labor party. It is no coincidence then that more incidents of Palestinian uprising were recorded during the period of Ariel Sharon’s leadership. True to expectations, Ariel Sharon visited Al Aqsa Mosque, in what was seen as an act of provocation. The provocation proved successful, leading to attacks against Israeli police the next day. The Israeli government
“in turn charged that the visit had not been provocative, and that the stone throwing w as an attempt by Arafat to restore his Camp David damaged stature. To this, Arafat responded that the acts of defiance were a natural expression of pent up anger that had not been manipulated by either himself or the Palestinian Authority. Thus began the Al Aqsa intifada”. (Masalha, 2003)
The heavy-handed approach of Israel is further accentuating Arab discontent. For example, balanced and neutral media reportage of the goings on in the region has altered the perception of international community. For example, the photograph of 12 year old Muhammad al-Durah, captured by a French reporter just 45 minutes before he fell victim to Israeli ammunition, while huddled alongside his father, had exposed some of the brutalities suffered by Palestinians. Leading this bandwagon on objective journalism is networks such as Al-Jazeera, which present a contrasting and a subaltern view of events in Middle East, vastly different from the biased and propaganda based reports in the Western media. These evident realities have sown seeds of disillusionment and suspicion among Arabs. This portrayal of overpowering Israeli military might, directed at unarmed Palestinians, has finally dismantled the long-held illusion of Israeli moral authority whenever it has responded to acts of provocation in the past (Masalha, 2003).