By Hugh Garbrick
A panel of experts discussed the 40th anniversary of the Camp David Accords and the Trump administration’s handling of the Middle East at the Samuel Riggs Alumni Center Wednesday night.
At the end of the discussion, the panel concluded that the Trump administration is not headed toward an effective peace deal.
Shibley Telhami, this university’s Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development, said that the Trump administration is headed to a “dead end,” and “the people who take us there will never admit it.”
Alongside Telhami, the panel consisted of Daniel Kurtzer, professor at Princeton University, Ellen Laipson, professor at George Mason University, and William Quandt, retired professor from the University of Virginia. During the discussion, each panelist shared their knowledge about the Camp David Accords.
The Camp David Accords took place at the 1978 presidential retreat between President Jimmy Carter, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. The leaders sought to create a peace deal between Egypt and Israel. According to the Office of the Historian, the Accords laid out the principles of a bilateral peace agreement as well as a formula for Palestinian self-government in Gaza and the West Bank. The peace treaty was formally signed on March 26, 1979.
Since then, however, the Middle East has been embroiled in conflict.
“From the moment that Begin tipped the political balance to the right wing there has been no significant breakthrough on the Palestinian issue,” said Kutzer. He added that no progress has been made by a U.S. president since the Camp David Accords on “territory, borders, and Jerusalem.”
There is still some hope though, said Laipson. Regarding relations between Israel and Egypt, she said, “Camp David is still a diplomatic success story.”
Telhami added that the Camp David Accords resulted in “a very stable relationship” between Israel and Egypt.
The crowd consisted primarily of students interested in learning more about the Camp David Accords.
“I’d like to learn more about the Camp David Accords and their effects on U.S. foreign policy,” said Alejandra Melnyk, a freshman government and politics major.
Also in the crowd was Dr. Imad Harb, the director of Research and Analysis at the Arab Center in Washington DC.
“The whole thing has gone awry,” Harb said. “The hope for peace is unfortunately harder than anyone can imagine. The peace process has basically, not only stalled, but it’s basically died.”