EGYPTIAN LEADER Anwar Sadat, US president Jimmy Carter and prime minister Menachem Begin meet at Camp David in September 1978.
(photo credit: CIA)
Egypt on Thursday published previously classified documents from its 1978 peace negotiations with Israel that called for full Palestinian autonomy in the West Bank and Gaza Strip within five years. The talks resulted in the Camp David Accords, comprising one deal pertaining to the Palestinian issue and a second that formed the foundation of the comprehensive Israel-Egypt treaty forged a year later. The Accords were signed by then-Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin as well as former Egyptian and American presidents Anwar Sadat and Jimmy Carter.
The document regarding the Palestinians, titled "A Framework for Peace in the Middle East," envisioned a five-year transitional period beginning with the establishment of an elected Palestinian body to administer the territories captured by Israel in the 1967 war. The Israeli military government would thereafter cease to operate in these self-ruled regions, although the terms of the pact provided for the Israel Defense Forces to remain in certain areas for an undefined period of time.
After the interim period, final-status negotiations were to be held to hash out the details of an end-of-claims agreement. Notably, the initial framework did not include mention of the status of Jerusalem or Palestinian refugees.
Some analysts believe that the document was published now, to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the Accords, as a poke in the eye of United States President Donald Trump, whose administration was boycotted by the Palestinian Authority following Washington's recognition in December of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. High-ranking Palestinian officials, including PA leader Mahmoud Abbas, repeatedly have leveled fierce criticism against the White House, which they accuse of being biased in favor of Israel and of attempting to "liquidate" the Palestinian cause through a yet-unveiled peace proposal.
In response, President Trump has cut off hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the PA
and to programs in the West Bank and Gaza, including funds earmarked for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which tends to Palestinian refugees.
By contrast, others believe Cairo's move was prompted by a desire to remind the Palestinians of what is at stake should Abbas continue to reject out-of-hand President Trump's eighteen-months-in-the-making so-called "deal of the century." In fact, one Palestinian official who spoke to The Media Line on condition of anonymity contended that Egyptian President Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi was in the US's corner, especially since Washington earlier this month released $1.2 billion in military aid to Egypt previously suspended over human rights concerns.
Abbas has in recent months clashed with Cairo, which is mediating a process aimed at ending the decade-long feud between the PA-governed West Bank and Hamas-ruled Gaza.
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