The Camp David Accords

President Carter's attempt at resolving the dispute between Israel and Egypt almost ended in failure. Egyptian President Sadat threatened to leave the talks at Camp David, but Carter used a personal approach to keep the talks going between Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Begin.

The Camp David Accords would become Carter's greatest foreign policy achievement.


Peter Bourne, Biographer: Carter was unable to get Begin to make any concessions that would really have locked up an agreement, to the point where Sadat just got fed up and said, "Well, I'm going home." You know. "I'm just not going to wait and be here any longer," and literally sort of had his coat on and was out the door.

Narrator: Carter begged Sadat to stay, appealing to their friendship and mutual trust, and reminding him of Egypt's good relations with the United States. Sadat decided to remain at Camp David. Saturday, September 16, Brzezinki wrote in his diary: "The President is driving himself mercilessly. He has single-handedly written the proposed document for the settlements on the Sinai." Carter presented the formula to Begin. At first he called the demands on Israel "excessive," "political suicide." But in the end he relented, agreeing to submit the question of the Jewish settlements to the Israeli parliament.

Betty Glad, Political Scientist: Jimmy Carter saw a picture of the three major participants on his desk. And he told his secretary to find out the names of Begin's grandchildren. And so then he wrote little notes, putting in the names of all the grandchildren. He went over to Begin and said, "You know, this is not just for us. This is for our grandchildren. And let me give this to you." And Begin was profoundly moved by this.

Narrator: The Camp David Accords were hailed as a monumental triumph of diplomacy, "With his brilliant success and inspired leadership, Carter has taken "a first, big step toward realizing the promise of his presidency," was the verdict of the press.


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  • NEH