On March 26, 1979, U.S. capital Washington hosted a signing ceremony that was very closely followed by the world press. Behind a long table placed in the White House garden were Israeli, Egyptian and U.S. flags. The three people at the table were Egyptian President Mohammed Anwar Sadat, U.S. President Jimmy Carter, and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. With the text signed among warm embraces, laughter, and the constant flashing of cameras, a new era opened in recent Middle East history. Permanent peace had been established between Egypt and Israel, two countries that had clashed numerous times in the past.
Interestingly, the path that leads to the Camp David deal, started with a war:
Anwar Sadat, who had been testing the waters for a comprehensive peace deal with Israel since he came to presidency after Gamal Abdel-Nasser in 1970, had noticed that Washington and Tel Aviv were not taking him seriously. According to the Americans and Israelis, the Six-Day War in 1967 had completely destroyed the Egyptian army and zeroed its capacity; there was no need to fear the Egyptian army and Egypt itself - it would not be able to recover for some time. The 1973 war, named the Yom Kippur War because it coincided with the namesake Jewish holy day, had given Sadat the chance to prove that the Egyptian army still existed, that it still had the ability to attack. Sadat, who ordered an attack on the Israeli line in Sinai (Bar Levi Line), sure that a cease-fire would be declared shortly, was pleased with the result; the moral of the country and its military was back to normal; they had shown their interlocutors how serious they were, and also guaranteed the strategy they would apply from now on.
Saudi Arabian King Faisal bin Abdulaziz, who ideologically became involved in the war to "destroy Israel," falling victim to a massacre in his Riyadh palace on March 25, 1975, gave Anwar Sadat the opportunity to act in a comfortable and carefree manner against the Muslim world. At the end of a lengthy and detailed negotiation process with the U.S. and Israel through Morocco, Sadat visited Jerusalem on Nov. 19, 1977, taking the first concrete step in officially recognizing Israel. It would all happen very quickly after this. The peace negotiations U.S. President Carter mediated in August 1978 would conclude on Sept. 17, with the full consensus of the parties, and this would be followed by the signing ceremony on March 26, 1979.
The most practical outcome of the Camp David Peace Agreement, through which Egypt officially accepted Israel's legitimacy over the lands occupied and ruled by Israel, was that the most powerful army of the Arab world was no longer a deterrent enemy in terms of Israel. Withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula, which was invaded in 1967, was a very small gesture in terms of Israel. According to many articles of the agreement, the control and security of Sinai would be provided by a series of contacts between Egypt and Israel; it was like Tel Aviv had almost no loss. The deal even included a section about Israel generously benefitting from the oil areas in Sinai's Abu Rudeis and Ra's Suder.
The Camp Davis Peace Agreement, which guaranteed the U.S.'s economic and military aid for Egypt, did not include any agreement regarding the future of Jerusalem, West Bank, and Gaza. A year after it was signed, as can be understood from Israel declaring Jerusalem the "eternal capital," the Egyptian side was more focused on its own interests and the outcome it would achieve. As is known very well, Sadat's move to save himself, leaving the Muslim world aside to bring Egypt and Israel shoulder to shoulder, would cost him his life. In the atmosphere of anger caused by the Camp David Peace Agreement that disregarded the Palestinians and isolated Egypt from the Palestine cause, Sadat would be killed on Oct. 6, 1981, by a captain in his own army.
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The White House hosted another important signing ceremony the other day. However, this time there was no Arab leader or representative at the table. U.S. President Donald Trump signed the executive order recognizing the legitimacy of the Israeli occupation in Golan Heights with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by his side. After officially recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital last May, the U.S. administration took another step that helps legitimize the invasion.
In the 40-year period since Camp David, the most striking change is the lack of any strong reaction or objection from the Arab world against Arab territory being made available to Israel by the U.S. After signing the agreement, not only was Sadat killed, Egypt was also dismissed by the Arab League it founded, and the league's headquarters was moved from Cairo to Tunis. The fury that led to Sadat’s death seems to have been replaced with a general acceptance and nonchalance today. This is exactly what it is that leads the U.S. and Israel to act to recklessly.
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Discussing the Israel matter and the occupation through Israel and the U.S. is a great waste of time now. The opposing front seems to have taken a quite clear position. As a matter of fact, Trump, contrary to his predecessors, is even consistent with an open pro-occupation attitude. The presidents before him would condemn the occupation with their tongues, and support it with their hands; Trump is quite honest.
Israel and the occupation should be discussed within the context of the Muslim world's attitude, its approach to the matter, the division among itself and its conflicts. Because, just as the knot is here, a likely solution lies here too.