Camp David Accords Press Conference

TV Features
posted on:
17 In sept 1978
Individuals - Anwar Sadat, Jimmy Carter, Moshe Dayan. Foreign Policy - Diplomacy. States - Egypt. Interim Agreements , Peace , peace process with Egypt
A press conference on the occasion of the signing of the Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt. President Jimmy Carter spoke first, followed by remarks by President Anwar Sadat and Prime Minister Menahem Begin and the signing itself. Begin spoke of the great work done by all parties and his personal friendship with Sadat.
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Mr. President of the United States, Mr. President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, ladies and gentlemen.

The Camp David Conference should be renamed. It was the Jimmy Carter Conference.

[Pause for laughter and applause]

The president took an initiative most imaginative in our time and brought President Sadat and myself and our colleagues and friends and advisors together under one roof. In itself, it was a great achievement, but the president took a great risk for himself and did it with great civil courage. And it was a famous French field commander that said that it is far more difficult to show civil courage than military courage.

And the president worked. As far as my historic experience is concerned, I think that he worked harder than our forefathers did in Egypt building the pyramids.

[Pause for laughter and applause]

Yes, indeed, he worked day and night. And so did we. Day and night. We used to go to bed at Camp David between 3 and 4 o'clock in the morning, rise, as we are used to since our boyhood, between 5 and 6, and continue working. The president showed interest in every section, every paragraph, every sentence, every word, every letter of the framework agreement. We had some difficult moments, as usually there are some crises in negotiations. As usual, someone gives a hint that he would like to pack up and go. It's all usual. But ultimately, ladies and gentlemen, the president of the United States won the day and peace now celebrates a great victory for the nations of Egypt and Israel and for all mankind.

Mr. President, we, the Israelis, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all you have done for the sake of peace for which we pray and yearn more than 30 years. The Jewish people suffered much, too much, and, therefore, peace, to us, is a striving coming innermost from our heart and soul.

Now, when I came here to the Camp David Conference, I said perhaps, as a result of our work, one day people will, in every corner of the world, be able to say "Habemus pacem!" in the spirit of these days. Can we say so tonight? Not yet. We still have to go our roads until my friend, President Sadat, and I sign the peace treaties. We promised each other that we shall do so within three months. Mr. President, tonight, at this celebration of a great historic event, let us promise each other that we shall do it earlier than within three months.

[Pause for applause]

Mr. President, you've inscribed your name forever in the history of two ancient civilized peoples: the people of Egypt and the people of Israel. Thank you, Mr. President.

[Pause for applause; audience rises; Begin shakes his head, waves them back to their seats, grins]

I would like to say a few words about my friend, President Sadat. We met for the first time in our lives last November in Jerusalem. He came to us as a guest, a former enemy, and, during our first meeting, we became friends. In the Jewish teachings, there is a saying that the greatest achievement of a human being is to turn his enemy into a friend, and this we do in reciprocity. Since then, we've had some difficult days. I'm not going to tell you now the saga of those days. Everything belongs to the past. Today, I visited President Sadat in his cabin – because in Camp David, you don't have houses, only cabins – and he then came to visit me. We shook hands and thank God. We again could have said to each other, "You are my friend."

[Pause for applause]

And, indeed, we shall go on working, in understanding and in friendship and with good will. We will still have problems to solve. Camp David proved that any problem can be solved if there is good will and understanding and some, some wisdom.

May I thank my own colleagues, the foreign minister, the defense minister, Professor Barak, who was the attorney general and now he's going to be his honor, justice of the Supreme Court, the Israeli Brandeis. And Dr. Rosen and our wonderful ambassador to the United States, Mr. Simcha Dinitz, and all our friends, because without them, that achievement wouldn't have been possible. I express my thanks to all the members of the American delegation, headed by the secretary of state, a man whom we love and respect, and so I express my thanks to all the members of the Egyptian delegation, who worked so hard together with us, headed by Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Tohami, for all they have done to achieve this moment. It is a great moment in the history of our nations and, indeed, of mankind. I looked for a precedent. I didn't find it. It was a unique conference, perhaps one of the most important since the Vienna Conference in the 19th century. Perhaps.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, allow me to turn to my own people from the White House, in my own native tongue.

[Hebrew 22:06-23:19]

Thank you.

[Applause; Begin shakes hands with and hugs Presidents Carter and Sadat]