Regarding “ ‘Significant responsibility’ for Gaza tragedy” (Letter of the Day, Aug. 4): I fully agree with Michael O’Hara Garcia’s acknowledgment of the Camp David Peace Accords (CDPA) as a shining example of what can be accomplished among nations. With that, I would like to offer a few clarifications to several points the writer made regarding the CDPA, Gaza, the role of the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) and the situation in Gaza.
Unfortunately, the September 1978 CDPA and subsequent Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty signed in March 1979, with the U.S. and Jordan as witnessing signatories, is where one of my concerns lies. Most don’t realize that the U.S., for the most part, wanted a grand peace plan that settled all disputes, peace between the Arabs and Israelis, and Palestinian autonomy included. For 10 days negotiations went on, with Israel and Egypt allowing the Palestinian issue to become a bargaining chip, agreeing to let the Palestinian issue be delayed — a decision that would fuel and continue the conflict against Israel. First, though, Islamist militants assassinated Anwar Sadat in 1981, and the Arabs expelled Egypt for many years. What followed was the impetus for the creation of the terrorist groups — Hamas in Gaza and the West Bank; the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the West Bank; and the Muslim Brotherhood to which both are affiliated subordinates; as well as Hezbollah.
Nevertheless, since 1979 Israel, Egypt and Jordan continued to work together closely as nations to ensure and maintain peace and stability. For nearly 35 years all have been close allies and partners of the U.S. since the signing. During my nearly 30 years of military service, I’ve worked and engaged throughout the Middle East, with the MFO and its director, Gen. Amb. Jim Larocco, who I met with regularly while I was deputy director for intelligence at USCENTCOM, as well as with many other members of the signatory countries. All have worked together diligently in compliance with the accords and agreement.
Regarding the writer’s premise that the failure of the U.S. and other MFO nations to stand by their obligations under the CDPA resulted in the situation in Gaza: Over the years, a number of factors have driven numerous attacks and uprisings by the various terrorist groups against Israel alone. Perhaps we can start with the charters of Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and Hezbollah — all call for the complete annihilation of the State of Israel and the murder of all Jews. The CDPA jettisoned any discussion of the issue of the Palestinians, and the MFO was designed to monitor the border in accordance with the treaty between Israel and Egypt, and the return of the Sinai to Egyptian control.
Israel, in its defense, during the 2000 Middle East Summit at Camp David between Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Barak, Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, and moderated by President Bill Clinton, agreed to 96 percent of the demands and conditions put on the table by the Palestinians. But Arafat said no. Many believe that had Israel offered 100 percent agreement, the PA still would not have accepted it. Although peace between Israel and Egypt, as well as Jordan, endures because of the good intentions between the signers, its overall regional prospects have been diminished — given the ever-increasing rise of radical Islam, making it more and more uncertain.
James M. Waurishuk
The writer, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel, served as a senior intelligence officer, deputy director for intelligence at U.S. Central Command, and was on the White House Security Council staff.