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Camp David: Saudi Arabia secretly supported landmark negotiations Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Camp David: Saudi Arabia secretly supported landmark negotiations

(L-R) Anwar Sadat, Jimmy Carter, Menachem Begin [Getty]

Date of publication: 3 June, 2018

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Leaked documents from Washington reveal a double-dealing Saudi Arabia who privately supported the 1979 Egypt-Israel peace accords, while publicly rejecting them as a betrayal of Arab states.
Documents released by the US State Department have revealed secret Saudi backing for the Camp David negotiations between Egypt and Israel, contrary to the kingdom's very public condemnation for the controversial 1979 peace accords.

Saudi Arabia officially cut ties with Cairo after Egypt's President Sadat signed the peace deal with Israel, calling him a traitor of the Arab states.

However the files, classified until their release on Friday, reveal Riyadh's duplicitous dealings in which it gave Washington its private support for the US-led peace process in the Middle East, while publicly rejecting the "unilateral Egyptian solution" with Israel.

A telegram from Jeddah dated 10 August 1978 reveals a meeting between the US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and the Saudi Foreign Saud al-Faisal in Taif. In the telegram, the kingdom gives its backing to US President Jimmy Carter's invitation to Egypt's President Sadat and Israel's Prime Minister Menachem Begin to Camp David for peace negotiations following decades fighting between the two countries.

In the telegram, Foreign Minister Faisal said his country was considering issuing an official statement, but complained that the Saudi position on the Egyptian-Israeli negotiations was "misunderstood".

Saudi Arabia wants the Camp David talks to succeed. Their success is in the interests of Saudi Arabia's most important allies, America and Egypt, and we will do everything in our power to help and make our support known to the world



"Saudi Arabia wants the Camp David talks to succeed. Their success is in the interests of Saudi Arabia's most important allies, America and Egypt, and we will do everything in our power to help and make our support known to the world," Faisal emphasises.

According to the minutes of a US-Saudi meeting held in Riyadh on 17 March 1979 between US National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski and Saudi Crown Prince Fahd bin Abdul Aziz, Fahd said his country was strongly considering sending senior envoys to Baghdad, Damascus and the Palestinians to convince them to support the negotiations.

In response to questions from the American side, Fahd stressed that the suspension of Egypt's membership to the Arab League, which occurred in the wake of the peace deal, did not mean in the slightest that the kingdom would cease  financial assistance to Cairo.

King Fahd said his country was strongly considering sending senior envoys to Baghdad, Damascus and the Palestinians to convince them to support the negotiations

The US released a second batch of previously unseen documents this week about the 1979 peace accords, which were brokered by Washington and took place at Camp David, Maryland.

The Security of State made announced the documents' release in a statement on Thursday.

"This added material consists largely of personal handwritten notes taken at the September Camp David summit by Samuel W. Lewis, the US Ambassador to Israel," the statement said.

"Department of State historians found these notes while researching volumes for the administration of President Ronald Reagan," it added.

Among the findings were that Egypt feared being isolated from its neighbours if Israel did not fulfill its promises.

The US published the first part of the secret documents in 2014.

The Camp David peace accords were signed between Egypt and Israel in September 1978 leading to the peace treaty the following year.

It signalled the end of hostilities between the two countries, but it was never fully embraced by a sceptical Egyptian public, and is seen in part as the reason for Anwar Sadat's assassination in 1981.

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