The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Carter on Camp David

Some interesting highlights from Abigail Hauslohner's TIME interview with Jimmy Carter, who is in Cairo at the moment:

Right, the ones who voted. Would you see that any differently if this newly elected government opts to abandon Camp David?
There is no chance of that in the world, in my opinion.

Because the peace treaty that I helped negotiate between Israel and Egypt is so precious and so beneficial to Egypt [that] to renounce it and to take a chance on going back to war with Israel — as they did four times in the 25 years before I became president — is almost inconceivable. And even the Muslim Brotherhood has made public statements in the past that they support the continuation of the treaty. There is one element of the Camp David accords that has been abandoned in the past, even in Egypt, and that is the protection of the Palestinian rights. This was a major part of the agreement that I worked out with [Israeli Prime Minister Menachem] Begin and [Egyptian President Anwar] Sadat 30-something years ago... peace between Israel and Egypt and protection of Palestinian rights. And even the Egyptian leaders in the past few years have not honored their commitment to protect Palestinian rights. And I think that will be one change made by the future civilian government.

The fall of Mubarak has stirred up a lot of debate about different aspects of Camp David — not just questions of whether Egypt will continue to honor Camp David, but other whether the exact terms of the agreement are out of date or need to be revised. Egyptians will tell you that the trade agreements are unfair; that the $1.3 billion dollars a year in military aid is perhaps misguided for a country trying to overcome an authoritarian regime.
That had nothing to do with Camp David. That didn't come until the late 1980s. There was no commitment of any finances going to Egypt as the result of the Camp David Accords. The only finances that resulted from the Camp David Accords was what I agreed: that the United States would help pay for the cost of demolishing the two air bases that Israel had in the Sinai. And that money went to Israel. There was no request by Sadat and no commitment by me or the United States government to give any financial aid to Egypt.

So there's plenty of room to correct both of these things, then.