The injustice felt by Palestinians by Camp David Accords is easy to understand, when we take into account the events preceding it. Foremost among them was the Jordanian military onslaught (with American aid) against the Palestinian movement in September 1970. This had disrupted Palestinian efforts at liberation for years to come. Jordan’s King Hussein ended “the Palestinian-enforced de facto dual authority in Jordan between 1967 and 1970, and also helped accomplish policy objectives for the U.S. and Israel” (Karsh, 1997). A similar pattern followed, when Palestinian liberationists gathered in Lebanon after the disaster of Black September, posing a threat to Lebanese authority. Immediately, the United States and Israel leadership conjured an opportunistic alliance with Syria to keep a check on Palestinian activities in Lebanon. By sharing suzerainty over Lebanon, Israel and Syria managed to curtail Palestinian national movement. It is at this juncture that the Camp David Accords were drafted. The damage it caused to the Palestinians and their cause is illustrated by the following passage:
“Egypt was subsequently drafted to deliver the coup de grace, peacefully this time, against the Palestinians. The 1978 Camp David agreement inflicted more damage on Palestinian nationalism by non-military means than the two previous armed onslaughts combined…Not only had Camp David secured the removal of Egypt from the Arab strategic arena, but it had also allowed Israel to dodge its legal responsibilities to the Palestinian people, and to shrug off its obligation to withdraw from Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese territories, under Security Council resolutions”. (Said, 2002)
The Palestinian cause, which was handed a huge blow by the Camp David Accords, met further setbacks from Saddam Hussein’s acts of indiscretion. He was a central figure to the war with neighbour Iran in the 1980s, which could have been easily avoided, had he shown concern for his own people. And toward the end of the decade, when he refused to follow orders from Washington, he was promptly put in his place by American military might. Not only did the Gulf War shatter Iraqi civil society, it also spelled disaster for Palestinians, “whose leadership decided in 1993 to acquiesce in the U.S. and Israeli agendas, which constituted a reformulation of old plans that excluded Palestinian self-determination and circumvented their national rights upheld by the international community” (Karsh, 1997). These rights were constituted by the United Nations, in the aftermath of the Second World War. Under the new terms of agreement, the promise of “full autonomy”, which was stated in the Camp David Accords, were effectively ended. In this new reality, Palestinians have very little choice. They are forced to choose between two political arrangements: “either they insist on total Israeli withdrawal as the only path to a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, with an arrangement for sharing sovereignty in Jerusalem; or they accept a neo-apartheid system with Palestinian “autonomous zones,” i.e., reservations and enclaves within a greater Israel”. The Palestinians have little political or military power to achieve the first of these options. Moreover, it is now more than fifty years since the conception of a ‘Jewish homeland and Israel’ that this course of action is impossible to enforce. Under the neo-apartheid arrangement, Palestinians would be deprived of their basic human rights as granted by the UN Declaration of Universal Human Rights as well as provisions in UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR): “the right of the refugees to return to their homes and property, the right of self determination, the right to struggle against the occupation, and their rights as civilians under occupation in accordance with the 1949 Geneva Convention” (Quandt, 1998). This would imply that all unilateral acts of aggression carried out by Israel and its allies in the last five decades or so would be deemed illegal.
Ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the American foreign policy framework based on containment became obsolete. But, the strategic scope of that policy framework has remained intact, the result of which is the ongoing American hegemony. Israel’s role in the United States’ strategy for world domination has also remained the same. Presently, the equations of power have altered to the effect that Israel has emerged as the regional super-power. Israel’s masters in Washington D.C. are aggressively “promoting a new Baghdad pact-type military alliance in which Israel, which was deliberately kept out of the earlier Baghdad Pact (1955) to appease the Arabs, now occupies centre stage with Turkey in second place, followed by Jordan” (Lesch and Tessler, 1999). If this alliance should come to fruition, then the position of other Arab states would be most vulnerable. As the miseries of Palestinians continue to mount, those Arab states that do not acquiesce with American-Israeli imperial designs for the region would meet a similar fate. Such a scenario would give a free license to the United States to rebuke attempts at U.S.-Arab reconciliation that is based on fair, balanced and historically informed justice.