Hopes for Peace in the Middle East -- in 1978

Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin join hands after the Camp David Accords Sept. 18, 1978, in the East Room of the White House. (David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images)

On Sept. 17, 1978, the Camp David Accords were signed. Fortuitously enough, the part of my and Candace's interview with Jimmy Carter talking about the accords was published this week (have a listen on iTunes -- it was my favorite part of the interview).

When President Carter assumed office in 1977, the Middle East was in turmoil, and peace talks were going slowly. Israel and Egypt had been at war since the birth of the state of Israel, attack after attack. Western nations were worried that the Middle East was about to boil over into world war. President Carter vowed to bring the two nations into a peace agreement.

President of Egypt Anwar El Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin despised each other, according to President Carter. But they both came to Camp David, Md., in September 1978, and there they remained for 12 days.

President Carter had come prepared with all sorts of research about the psychology of both men, but after two days in a room together, talks had stalled -- they simply couldn't get along. President Carter said that Sadat trusted him too much and Begin too little, and that the Egyptians thought Sadat gave too many compromises while the Israelis thought Begin was being too rigid. Begin and Sadat were separated for the rest of their time at Camp David while the president worked as go-between, bringing a document to one side to revise and then carrying it back to the other side for comments and concerns until a final agreement was drawn up. On Sept. 17, two agreements were signed -- one led directly to a peace agreement between Israel and Egypt in 1979 that persists to this day.

Peace in the Middle East is still a hope and not a reality, but President Carter helped the world take a step in that direction. It remains to be seen what current and future administrations will accomplish in the region.

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