Camp David Summit Begins
President Sadat and PM Begin greet eachother and Preisdent Carter at Camp David. Photo: US National Archives

September 5, 1978

The Camp David Summit begins at the Catoctin Mountain presidential retreat in Hauvers, Maryland. Conducted within the framework of U.N. Security Council Resolution 242, enacted in 1967 after the Six-Day War, the negotiations over 13 days among Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, U.S. President Jimmy Carter and their aides result in the Camp David Accords, the precursor to the peace treaty Israel and Egypt sign six months later.

Sadat’s visit to Jerusalem in November 1977 made peace negotiations possible, but the talks became stuck on issues including the Sinai, the Palestinians and the nature of the future relationship between Israel and Egypt. Although the bilateral peace process conflicts with Carter’s preference for a comprehensive regional resolution, the president decides to put his prestige and U.S. influence behind the talks by bringing the Israeli and Egyptian leaders to the rustic retreat. Throughout the summit, Carter serves as a go-between, meeting with Sadat and Begin separately.

The resulting agreement, signed by the three national leaders at the White House on Sept. 17, combines two frameworks, one for negotiating an Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty and the other for developing Palestinian self-governance. The treaty framework is successful. The Palestinian self-rule concept, however, remains on the back burner until the signing of the Oslo Accords between the Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel in September 1993.

Sadat and Begin share the 1978 Nobel Peace Prize for achieving the Camp David Accords.