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1978: Arab-Israeli breakthrough in US
The leaders of Israel and Egypt have reached a settlement for the Middle East at Camp David in the US.

President Anwar al-Sadat of Egypt and Prime Minister Menachem Begin of Israel agreed peace terms in the presence of Jimmy Carter at his presidential retreat in Maryland after nearly two weeks of intensive negotiations.

Both of the Middle Eastern premiers paid tribute to the role of the American President at the signing ceremony held at the White House in Washington.

Mr Begin suggested the summit talks should be renamed the 'Jimmy Carter conference'.

A committed Christian, President Carter led prayers at Camp David and all negotiators agreed to open the talks by asking "the people of the world to pray" for peace.

The Camp David Accords commit Egypt and Israel to negotiate and sign a full peace treaty within three months. Israeli troops are to be completely withdrawn less than three years after that.

Peace in parts

The settlements consist of two agreements.

The first addresses the issues in the West Bank and Gaza by accommodating Arab interests and protecting Israel's security.

For the first time Palestinians will be given the right to self-determination, along with other inhabitants of the West Bank and Gaza, over the future settlement and government of the disputed area.

The second agreement, entitled 'Framework for the Conclusion of a Peace Treaty between Egypt and Israel', offers full Egyptian recognition of the state of Israel in return for Israeli military withdrawal from Sinai.

An interim removal of troops is due to take place between three and nine months after the peace treaty has been concluded.

The only major area of disagreement has been over the removal of Israeli settlements from Egyptian territory.

Egypt insists that this withdrawal should be a pre-requisite to a peace treaty, while Israel wants it to take place during the course of negotiations.

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Photo of Camp David
The US President's Maryland retreat was fertile ground for reconciliation

In Context
President Carter opened the formal treaty negotiations between senior Israeli and Egyptian ministers 25 days later.

President Sadat and Prime Minister Begin jointly received the Nobel Peace Prize for realising a framework for peace.

The Camp David peace treaty between Egypt and Israel was signed in March 1979.

The Sinai was returned to Egypt which was condemned by the other Arab nations and excluded from the Arab League. President Sadat was assassinated in October 1981.

There was little real progress towards peace in the Middle East until the 1990s as the Palestinians invoked an "intifada" - meaning "shaking off" - against the continued Israeli presence in Gaza and the West Bank.

In August 2005 Israel began its so-called Disengagement Plan and evicted all Jewish settlers from Gaza and demolished some settlements on the West Bank.

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