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Peace Will Come (According to Plan)

It was 30 years ago today that Jimmy Carter asked the world to pray ...

With apologies to Paul (McCartney, not Saint), it was 30 years ago that Carter concluded the Camp David peace accords between Egypt and Israel with a joint appearance in the White House's East Room. "When we first arrived at Camp David, the first thing upon which we agreed was to ask the people of the world to pray that our negotiations would be successful," Carter said in public remarks at the time. "Those prayers have been answered far beyond any expectations."

Although the snarky reaction would be that peace in the region is as elusive as always, the lack of open hostilities between the former enemies has endured. Israel did trade the Sinai for peace, and Israeli settlements on Egyptian territory were withdrawn.

And some aspects of the broader framework that was reached have been put in place, even if the presumed follow-on results haven't been as beneficial as hoped. As Carter told the world about the plan hammered out between Egypt's Anwar Sadat and Israel's Menachem Begin:

"It deals specifically with the future of the West Bank and Gaza and the need to resolve the Palestinian problem in all its aspects. The framework document proposes a 5-year transitional period in the West Bank and Gaza during which the Israeli military government will be withdrawn and a self-governing authority will be elected with full autonomy. It also provides for Israeli forces to remain in specified locations during this period to protect Israel's security.

"The Palestinians will have the right to participate in the determination of their own future, in negotiations which will resolve the final status of the West Bank and Gaza, and then to produce an Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty."

All those items eventually occurred, even if the peace treaty with Jordan, to cite one example, required the passage of another 16 years.

But the concluding paragraphs of Carter's statements that day saw him casting the net a bit farther than subsequent peacemakers have been able to pull in:

"I might say that the first document is quite comprehensive in nature, encompassing a framework by which Israel can later negotiate peace treaties between herself and Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, as well as the outline of this document that we will now sign.

"And as you will later see, in studying the documents, it also provides for the realization of the hopes and dreams of the people who live in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and will assure Israel peace in the generations ahead."