Behind the Scenes of the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Negotiations in “Mozhakarat” (“Memoirs”)

Alaraby TV

Over two episodes, Alaraby TV’s program “Mozhakaraat” (“Memoirs”) told the story of the Camp David Accords through the memoirs of the two ministers of foreign affairs, Ismail Fahmy and Mohamed Ibrahim Kamel. The episodes presented the objections of both ministers to Egypt’s reconciliation with Israel, and how their opinions clashed with the ambitions of then-President Anwar Sadat, which had led to the resignation of both ministers from their positions successively.

The first episode recounts the memoirs of former Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ismail Fahmy, through his book titled “Negotiating for Peace in the Middle East.” Fahmy’s resignation was an objection to Sadat declaring the peace agreement from within the walls of the Egyptian Parliament on 9 November 1977, in preparation for his visit to Jerusalem and his Knesset speech.

Fahmy recounts that Sadat had taken that decision unilaterally, saying that the latter’s stance towards the Palestinian issue had been covert and arguing that the president had made major concessions, surrendering to the demands of the Israelis, after having been carefully lured towards the Israeli goal.

The episode describes how the Israelis had lured Egyptian President Anwar Sadat into the trap of bilateral negotiations after they realized that his great ambition was becoming a historic hero. Ismail Fahmy shed light on what happened behind the closed doors of Egyptian politics.

He unveils information about secret communications between Egypt and Israel before the commencement of the negotiations, partly mediated by Rabat. Menachem Begin had expressed to Moroccan King Hassan II his desire to establish direct contact with Egypt. Sadat accepted Begin’s proposal and sent Hassan Tohamy to meet with Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan in Rabat, while concealing this from his Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ismail Fahmy.

Former United States Ambassador in Cairo, Frank Wisner, was among the guests in the episode. He spoke about the United States' influence in bringing Egypt and Israel together for the political agreement, especially since Sadat's unilateral negotiations created a rift in the unified Arab position, as Henry Kissinger once noted: “The Arabs can't make war without Egypt; and they can't make peace without Syria.”

The second episode shed light on the memoir of former Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohamed Ibrahim Kamel, "The Peace Lost at Camp David". Kamel relayed the details of his days in office, which did not exceed ten months. He presented his account of what happened at the Camp David resort between the presidents of Egypt, The United States of America, and Israel. The episode details how Sadat made his political decisions during unilateral negotiations which ended in Egypt making political concessions beyond Israel’s wildest dreams.

Another guest of the second episode was William Quandt, member of the US team during Camp David negotiations. He spoke about the meeting of the Israeli and Egyptian delegations in Ismailia in Egypt, in order to avoid being in proximity to the demonstrations that might happen in Cairo. Quandt described how Egypt was distanced from its Arab neighbors in the aftermath of the agreement with Israel, and how Menachem Begin preferred to conclude a separate peace accord with Egypt, excluding Jordan, Syria, and Palestine. Quandt recalled what the Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan had once told him about reconciliation with Egypt meaning the end of the Arab-Israeli wars, explaining that it was like removing a wheel from a car which renders it immobile.

During the episode, Ibrahim Kamel recounted his feelings of rage at Sadat for his concession to Israel. The episode describes the tense relationship between the minister and the president, which ended with the former’s resignation. Sadat used the resignation as a negotiation card with the American team, as Boutros Ghali notes, to tell the Americans that even the Egyptian team itself objects to his concessions.