Over forty years have passed since Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin sat together at the same table to put their signatures to the Camp David Accords. The day was September 17, 1978 at the White House. Camp David, brokered by U.S. President Jimmy Carter, constituted the first, and thus far, major breakthrough in the resolution of the Arab–Israeli conflict and transformed the region’s politics, diplomacy, and security in the process.
Fourteen years later, on September 13, 1993, a different U.S. president and cast of regional actors would arrive at the White House for another signing of a historic peace agreement. Under the auspices of President Bill Clinton, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization Yasser Arafat signed the Oslo Accords, initiating a process that would ostensibly lead to a settlement of the Palestinian–Israeli conflict. A quarter century later, the promise of Oslo remains unrealized, with the perpetuation of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories, now the longest military occupation in modern history.
To mark the passing of the fortieth anniversary of Camp David and twenty-five years since Oslo, the Cairo Review has dedicated its Winter 2019 issue to exploring the complex legacies of these two landmark events. We are honored to publish the words of President Carter in “Faith That Peace Will Come One Day.” We are equally happy to feature an essay by High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, who presents a European perspective on the many implications of the absence of peace in the Middle East.
Nabil Elaraby, Elyakim Rubinstein, and William B. Quandt, who all served as members of the Egyptian, Israeli, and U.S. negotiating teams at Camp David, offer first-hand accounts of the interactions between personalities and conflicting interests that ultimately produced the agreement. Complementing these perspectives, Bahgat Korany and Lawrence Wright offer incisive analysis on the dynamics at the negotiations, while Michael Yaffe, Lucy Kurtzer-Ellenbogen, and Robert Barron shed light on the security arrangements of the treaty between Egypt and Israel that have underpinned peace between both countries.
In many ways, Oslo was meant to realize the unfulfilled promise of the Camp David Accords, embodied in the first of its two documents “A Framework for Peace in the Middle East” that addressed the disposition of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories. Nasser Alkidwa highlights this linkage, arguing that the lack of willingness to address the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people ultimately brought about the demise of the Oslo process. Ghaith Al-Omari delves into the complexities of Palestinian politics that formed the backdrop for the Oslo Accords.
Widely recognized as one of the Israeli architects behind Oslo, Yossi Beilin argues that despite the many setbacks, Oslo remains the basis for Palestinian–Israeli peace. Another Israeli participant at the Oslo negotiations, Joel Singer describes Israel’s approach to Palestinian “autonomy” as it evolved between Camp David and Oslo. Nabil Fahmy offers an Egyptian view of the shortcomings of Oslo, while Abdel Monem Said Aly makes the case for the one-state solution. This issue also features interviews with two important Palestinian negotiators: Hassan Asfour, who was a direct participant at the initial rounds of the Norway negotiations, and Diana Buttu, a key advisor during the Oslo “process” agreements.