The Sharm Summit, or as it is formally known, the Sharm el-Sheikh Summit, is actually not just one summit, but a series of peace summits that have been held in the Egyptian city of Sharm el-Sheikh since 1996. Optimistically known as “the city of peace,” Sharm el-Sheikh has hosted numerous summits and conferences, but the ones concerning peace in the Middle East, and most specifically, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are the most significant.
In 1996, the first Sharm Summit was held, and was called the “Summit of Peacemakers.” In attendance was US President Bill Clinton, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, among other dignitaries and government officials. Its goals were to formulate a peace plan for the Israeli and Palestinian conflict in order to end violence and begin the process to establish a Palestinian state on the Gaza Strip. Although this Sharm Summit and subsequent summits in September 1999 and October 2000 were largely unsuccessful in achieving real resolution, they laid the groundwork for the Roadmap for peace.
The Roadmap for peace is a plan that spells out specific goals for ending terrorist violence, withdrawal from Israeli settlements, and laying out the nuts and bolts of establishing a Palestinian state complete with infrastructure and government. While it has suffered many setbacks since its inception in 2002, it has remained the most well received and accepted plan for peace in the region.
One of the most notable summits took place on 8 February 2005 and included Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, Ariel Sharon, Israeli Prime Minister, Hosni Mubarak, Egyptian President and Jordanian King Abdullah II. The goal of the February 2005 Sharm Summit was to put an end to the bloody Al-Aqsa Intifada that had been raging since October 2000 between the Israelis and Palestinians. The four leaders discussed the future of the Palestinian state, the cessation of all violence between Jews and Palestinians, and their continued support of the Roadmap.
It was a very public summit, and was supposed to be the end of the Al-Aqsa Intifada. Also relevant was that it was the first summit including Abbas, who was first appointed by Yasser Arafat as president, but then subsequently democratically elected by the Palestinian people. This was thought to be a good step towards establishing a legitimate Palestinian government, recognized by Israel.
While the leaders had the best of intentions, Hamas resumed hostilities. Another Sharm Summit was held on 3 August 2005, where the situation in Iraq and the Arab-Israel conflict was discussed. In June of 2007, the Sharm Summit reconvened again, this time including Mubarak, Abudullah II, Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, in office since 2006. The Roadmap was reaffirmed, and Olmert renewed his cooperation with Abbas to improve security and the economic situation of the Palestinian state. He pledged to further improve the current state of the movement of Palestinians and to improve trade relations and humanitarian assistance. Olmert passionately called for the support of other Arab nations to support the peace process and to recognize the need for both Jews and Palestinians to enjoy a nation of their own.