As finger-pointing and recrimination escalate in the Gaza War, it is helpful to reflect on how we arrived at this unfortunate juncture. Notwithstanding vagaries imposed by the post-WWI Sykes-Picot agreement, the obfuscation of U.N. Resolutions 242 and 338 or a host of other manipulations and affronts suffered by ordinary Jews, Arabs and Christians, the current problem in Gaza can be traced directly to a failure by the United States and a host of other nations to live up to their responsibilities under the terms of the Camp David Peace Accords.
The 1979 agreement, signed by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and witnessed by U.S. President Jimmy Carter, was a shining example of what intelligent men of probity and good heart can achieve. The treaty created a framework for Palestinian autonomy and returned captured Sinai lands to Egypt.
A battalion of U.S. infantry and forces from 10 other countries organized as The Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) were stationed in the Sinai to ensure treaty compliance, particularly with Article III, which states: “Each Party undertakes to ensure that acts or threats of belligerency, hostility, or violence do not originate from and are not committed from within its territory.”
The honeycomb of terror tunnels constructed by Hamas over the past decade under the noses of the MFO and the Egyptian police are a direct violation of Article III. Had the U.S. observer team done its job and reported these tunnels early in the process, scores of Palestinians and Israelis would not be dead.
The failure of the U.S. and other MFO nations to stand by their obligations under the Camp David Accords carry significant responsibility for the tragedy unfolding in Gaza.
Michael O’Hara Garcia
The writer served as an observer with The Multinational Force & Observers (MFO) in 1988-1989.