Camp David to Indo-Abrahamic alliance- “half right and still waiting”


The West Asian society has always been plagued by intergenerational terror. Social scientists, have been trying to understand the origins of violence. Edward Said in his article “The clash of ignorance” cited “internal dynamics and plurality” of the West Asian civilization as the root cause. However, Said was not attempting to trace the causation of the violence. “The clash of ignorance” was his attempt to fill the lacunae left out by Samuel Huntington in his theory of the “clash of civilizations”. Following the works of Frantz Fanon, famous post-colonial psychiatrist Karima Lazali observes colonial trauma (colonialism’s deep scars in the minds of West Asian people) as the reason for never-ending violence in the region. Also, in a conversation with Edward Said Noam Chomsky says the “core issue in the Middle East is oil” and the neo-colonial greed for it.

However, problems like Israeli-Palestine conflicts are beyond such conceptual understandings and theories, any such attempts would be a case of reductionism. Said in another article on Israel- Palestine conflict wrote, “it is a contest over the same land by two peoples who always believed they had valid title to it and who hoped that the other side would in time give up or go away. One side won the war, the other lost, but the contest is as alive as ever”. Palestine issue is entangled in the various epochs of history. The bipolar cold war environment poured oil in the fire. Nevertheless, there were numerous attempts to peace till this date. Needless to say, that nothing went fruitful. The 1978 Camp David Accord is the most famous one among them.

Camp David accord is a Peace Treaty between Egypt and Israel, negotiated by Anwar Sadat, Menachem Begin, and Jimmy Carter in September 1978. It was a herculean task for both Begin and Sadat as well as Carter, to turn a relationship that was once a key threat to Middle East stability into a resilient cornerstone of regional security. There were two documents included in the Camp David accord, a framework for resolving the Israeli– Palestinian conflict, and the second paper, defining peace between Israel and Egypt. It is fair to say that, both the frameworks are overlapping in nature. That is, the first paper intending and proposing a framework for resolving the Israeli-Palestine conflict was the basis of the negotiation that resulted in the Egyptian-Israel peace treaty. From a realistic point of view, this was necessary for Sadat to maintain the legacy of non-alignment and friendship with other Arab nations and countries like India. On the other hand, Egypt regained Sinai, the domestic dignity and an opportunity to shift Egyptian alliances in the Cold War toward the United States. Sadat might have expected a political benefit out of all these. But unfortunately, his life was its cost, as he was assassinated by an extremist from his own country. However, the treaty established enduring peace between Israel and Egypt. Negotiations between Israel, Egypt, and the United States created a Multinational Force and Observers to monitor both parties in Sinai after the six-stage withdrawal of Israel. Since that Israeli withdrawal, the MFO has been judged to be both “servant and witness” to Israel and Egypt in fulfilling the terms of the April 1979 treaty of peace between the two countries, according to Arthur H. Hughes, who served as director-general of the Egypt–Israel Multinational Force and Observers. Camp David is generally considered to be a successful story (Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin are jointly awarded the Nobel peace prize for the efforts in the Camp David accord). Nevertheless, less retrospective focus has been given to the first draft, a solution to the Israeli– Palestinian conflict, and comprehensive peace in the Middle East. As long as this scar remains the Camp David accord will continue to be incomplete.

In 2020 a joint statement between UAE, Israel, and the US called Abrahamic accords publicly normalized the years of strained relationship between UAE and Israel and established full diplomatic relations between them. This was followed by other Arab nations such as Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco. Unlike Camp David, Abraham accord did not have any framework for resolving the Israeli– Palestinian conflict. An Egyptian scholar Mohammed Soliman recently wrote about the “little-noticed” geostrategic alliance on the rise between India, UAE, Israel, and the US. Soliman called it the Indo-Abrahamic alliance. The converging interest between four countries amidst Turkey’s leadership claim for the Islamic world under Erdogan’s regime leaguing with Pakistan created an incentive for allying together (Soliman, 2021). This Turkish tendency of supremacy is not something new. “The Young Turk movement” sprouted within the Ottoman empire is parallel to the dawn of Zionist movements in Palestine. Back then, some Arab nationalist leaders, particularly non-Palestinians, considered forming a coalition with the Zionist cause to combat Turkish dominance. (Rodinson, 1968)

 United States will nurture any such multilateral blocs as it will help the geostrategic challenge of US presence in the region, that is “how to do more, with less”.  Also, Washington anyway will be concerned about the Chinese military base plans in UAE. Such systemic pressures might have already exerted the consciousness of what would be gained by a deal and lost by its absence among the four countries. Therefore, Indo-Abrahamic alliance as Mohammed Soliman says, is a “potential nucleus of a wider regional coalition”, with the possible addition of Egypt and Saudi Arabia in the future. But it should not be independent of Israel’s relationship with Palestine. This rare alliance with India, US, UAE, and Israel (Egypt too) has all the capabilities for resolving the Israel-Palestine problems along with the promised expansive political, economic, and technological cooperation. However, the path towards peace is not going to be easy. But Indo-Abrahamic alliance is a historic opportunity for a framework for peace in the Middle East. Scholars like Michael Yaffe have been writing about an MFO (Multinational Force and observers) model solution from the 2000s for the Israel-Palestine crisis. Even though Palestinian leadership has shown openness to such a proposal of international presence in the Jordan valley, Israel had always turned its face towards the proposal. The Abrahamic alliance which blesses Israel with immense opportunities in West Asia and beyond could be the best platform for any such negotiations. This could also be the right time considering the regime change in Israel and Naftali Bennet’s less hard-line policies compared to his predecessor. The example of MFO model which was fruitful in the case of Israel and Egypt might not result in the same with Israel and Palestine, considering the nature of the conflict between them. However, at present, the favourable systemic factors and the resultant minilateral alliance put forward an opportunity to work towards a peaceful solution to the conflict. It is very interesting to see the features of twenty first century multilateral forums, they are informal, non-binding, purpose-built in nature and these are mainly coalitions of the interested, willing, and capable states (non-states too). The new dawned minilateral co-operations considering the advantages that they enjoy such as “speed, flexibility, modularity”, absence of clashing big power preferences, and possibilities for experimentation can surpass the International Organisations in functioning. (Patrick, 2015)

  Recapitulating, Celebrating the Indo-Israel-UAE relationship as having acquired a character independent of the Israeli-Palestine crisis will be “half right and still waiting” as in the case of Camp David, 1978 (Michael Yaffe, 2019).  Instead, it is high time to “still not wait” and realize the potential of the multilateral Indo-Abrahamic alliance for resolving the same.

Karthik Payyalil
Karthik Payyalil
Research Scholar, CHRIST University, Bangalore


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