THE CAMP DAVID ACCORDS: A CASE OF INTERNATIONAL BARGAINING

InternationalTHE CAMP DAVID ACCORDS:
A CASE OF INTERNATIONAL BARGAINING

By Shibley Telhami
Professor, Department of Government and Politics
University of Maryland

The Camp David accords between Egypt and Israel, concluded with the mediation of the
United States on September 17, 1978, represent a remarkable event in Middle East history. For
three decades Egypt had been Israel’s most avowed enemy, having fought four wars and
championed the pan-Arab and Palestinian causes. A generation of Egyptians grew up knowing
Israel simply as «the illegitimate Zionist enemy» that had displaced the Palestinian people. It is
no wonder, then, that when President Anwar el Sadat of Egypt announced his intention to visit
Jerusalem, in a gesture that led to Camp David, most people were surprised, some indeed
shocked; Israelis danced in the streets in a state of euphoria. And when the accords were finally
signed, the repercussions were equally dramatic: Egypt, the historical leader of the Arab world,
was expelled from the Arab League, and the Egyptian people showed no great enthusiasm. The
Camp David accords are thus something of a puzzle.

As a case of international bargaining, Camp David provides an unusually appropriate
opportunity for examining the relative explanatory power of several causal variables. At the level
of superpower and regional relations, the outcome of the Camp David process had a substantial
impact on superpower interests, the chances of war, and regional politics in the Middle East. In
addition, the bargaining process, involving the highest levels of government, was so well defined
(especially in its later stages), so clearly isolated, and so intensely continuous, that it offers a
clear insight into the effect of the art of negotiating on the final agreements.

THE CAMP DAVID ACCORDS A CASE OF INTERNATIONAL BARGAINING

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