וMaking peace with Egypt: List of documents and summaries

Part 1. Renewing talks with Egypt, crisis and invitation to Camp David

US Vice-President Mondale shaking hands with Defence Minister Weizman, Deputy PM Yadin and Foreign Minister Dayan on his arrival, 30 June 1978. PM Menachem Begin is on his left. Photograph: Ya’acov Sa’ar, GPO

  1. Vice-President Mondale’s visit to Israel 

1. Meeting between US Vice-President Walter Mondale and Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan; Jerusalem, 2 July 1978
Israel State Archives, MFA/6866/6
In Dayan’s opinion the main question is whether Sadat is prepared to sign a separate agreement in the name of Egypt on Judea and Samaria, or at least on Gaza. If he continues to raise additional demands, or to wait for Jordanian participation, there is no point in renewing the talks. Mondale claims that a basis for continuing the negotiations exists.

1a. Meeting between US Vice-President Walter Mondale and Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Others; Jerusalem, 2 July 1978 (in English)
Israel State Archives, MFA/6866/6
The prime minister asks the US to act to restore the balance between Israel and the Arabs following the deal to sell planes to Saudi Arabia and other arms sales to Arab countries. Mondale explains the background to the invitation to the foreign ministers’ meeting in London, and to the presentation of Egypt’s peace plan. Begin announces that Israel is prepared to renew the talks unconditionally, but it must provide for its security needs. Ministers Yigael Hurvitz and Ariel Sharon express their reservations about withdrawal from Judea and Samaria.

2. US President Jimmy Carter, Washington, to Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Jerusalem; 4 July 1978 (in English)
Israel State Archives, A/4348/5

Confirms the invitation to the prime minister to send Foreign Minister Dayan for talks with Egyptian Foreign Minister Kamel and Secretary of State Vance in London on 18-19 July 1978. Accepts with thanks Begin’s positive response. The US will transmit Egypt’s peace proposal to Israel as soon as possible. “We must not let the present opportunity slip through our fingers”.
Appendix No. 1. Israel’s peace proposal as adopted by the government, 23 December 1977, A4313/6
Appendix No. 2. Egypt’s peace proposal in Hebrew and English, 5 July 1978, A4173/10

3. Simcha Dinitz, Israel Ambassador in Washington, to Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan, Jerusalem; 4 July 1978
Israel State Archives, A/4173/10

A talk with Mondale on his conclusions from his visit to Israel and Egypt. He urges Israel to agree immediately to send the foreign minister to London. He will try to persuade President Carter to make a public statement on his reservations about the Egyptian peace proposal. Sadat would prefer further talks in the Middle East, and is not interested in additional meetings with Israelis unless something new comes out of them. Mondale’s opinion on the balance of power within the US administration.

Ezer Weizman’s meeting with Sadat in Salzburg

4. Defence Minister Ezer Weizmann’s Report to the Foreign Affairs and Security Committee of the Knesset on his Meetings in Salzburg with President Anwar Sadat and Minister of Defence Mohamed Abd el-Gahani el-Gamasy on 13 July; Jerusalem, 25 July 1978
Israel State Archives, A/239/7

The defence minister believes that Sadat is still interested in a peace treaty and will accept a solution for Jerusalem that would not divide the city. Sadat emphasized the importance of momentum before the date of the renewal of the mandate of the UN peace-keeping force according to the interim agreement of 1975, in October 1978, and the first anniversary of his visit to Jerusalem in November 1978. Sadat said that he would like to pray at the site holy to Christians and Moslems at Saint Catherine’s monastery in Sinai, and proposed that Israel turn the site and the town of El Arish into an Egyptian enclave. It would become the centre of the peace talks. They also discussed security arrangements in Judea and Samaria.

View of Leeds Castle. Photograph: Wikimedia

3. The Leeds Castle conference of foreign ministers (17–19 July) and the Israeli government decision (23 July)

5. Meeting between US Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan; Leeds Castle, Kent, 17 July 1978

Israel State Archives, A/4313/14

Also present were US Ambassador Samuel Lewis and the attorney-general, Aharon Barak. Dayan clarified the concessions that the Begin government could make in Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip. He asked whether Egypt might agree not to discuss the permanent status of these areas until the end of the interim period of five years. Israel would not agree to withdrawal and handing over the area to foreign sovereignty – not even for a defence agreement with the US. The Palestinians would be allowed to decide their future at the end of the period, in talks between Israel, Egypt, Jordan and their representatives, but not to establish a Palestinian state.
Appendix: Dayan’s position, as transmitted to Vance in a “Talking Paper”, in Hebrew and English, 18 July 1978
Dayan emphasized that this paper expressed a personal stand, but he would try to convince the government to adopt it.

6. Stenographic Record of the Afternoon Meeting with the Israeli, US and Egyptian Delegations; Leeds Castle, Kent, 19 July 1978
Israel State Archives, A/4173/11

The final meeting in which Dayan, Vance, Egyptian Foreign Minister  Kamel and their delegations participated. Vance presented a press release, saying that the talks were frank and serious. He intended to return to the Middle East in approximately two weeks. The two sides had explained their positions, and the next time they met, they would have to present proposals for bridging the gap. Following questions by Dayan, a discussion was held on the significance of “minor modifications” of the borders and a possible solution to the Jerusalem issue.

7. Extracts from the Stenographic Record of the Meeting of the Israel Government; Jerusalem, 23 July 1978
Israel State Archives, A/4271/3

Dayan described the talks at the Leeds Castle conference, and said that Israel could expect a serious crisis with the US. He described the positions of the Egyptians and the “personal” paper that he had presented on Israel’s position, expressing willingness to discuss sovereignty in Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip after the interim period of five years. The prime minister confirmed the position presented by the foreign minister. According to Begin he had always supported that position, but the government decided on a different formula, and he did not object, due to his illness and his desire to avoid a government crisis.

In the second part of the meeting the government discussed Sadat’s request for a unilateral gesture of good-will in Sinai. Begin read out the negative reply he intended to send. Despite objections, he insisted on the wording of the letter and sending it formally to Sadat. (Begin’s letter was read out in the Knesset, and can be found in the Knesset Proceedings for 24 July 1978). The government approved Begin’s proposals and denounced the attacks by the Alignment party on the prime minister during his illness.

8. Information Division, Jerusalem, to the Israel Missions Abroad; 25 July 1978
Israel State Archives, A/4173/11

The main points of a talk by Dayan to division directors on 25 July: Dayan rejected the statement by Golda Meir that Sadat had come to Jerusalem because he had been promised the return of the Sinai. He presented the changes in Israel’s position at the Leeds Castle conference on the Palestinian issue, as approved by the government. In his opinion the government decision is the most important document issued by Israel to date.

 Egypt breaks off the talks: invitation to Camp David 

9. Ezer Weizman, Minister of Defence, Tel Aviv, to Colonel Yaacov Heichal, Cairo, for Mohamed Abdel-Ghani El-Gamassy; 26 July 1978 (in English)
Israel State Archives, A/8190/1
Weizmann expresses his regret at Egypt’s decision to send Israel’s military delegation home. He emphasizes the importance of the meetings between himself and Gamasy and of peace between their two nations.

10. Hanan Bar-On, Israel Minister in Washington, to Ephraim Evron, Director-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jerusalem; 2 August 1978
Israel State Archives, A/8190/1
Sadat has decided to reject the idea of another meeting between representatives of Egypt and Israel at the American warning station at Um Hasheiba. Bar-On heard an assessment by William Quandt of the National Security Council. Bar-On commented that perhaps Sadat was disappointed not only by the lack of progress in negotiations with Israel, but also by the Americans’ lack of reaction to the Soviets’ latest maneouvres. In Quandt’s opinion it was not the Saudis who were influencing Sadat, but rather he who was exploiting and influencing them. He did not believe that Sadat’s threats not to renew the mandate of the UN peace-keeping force were realistic.

11. US President Jimmy Carter, Washington, to Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Jerusalem; 3 August 1978 (in English)
Israel State Archives, A/4348/5
An invitation to a summit with the president and President Sadat of Egypt at Camp David. According to the president, despite the differences between the two sides, there was a basis for agreement. The time had arrived for a renewed effort at the highest level. A similar document was sent to Sadat.

12. Elyakim Rubinstein, Deputy Director-General and Head of the Foreign Minister’s Bureau, Jerusalem, to Hanan Bar-On, Israel Minister in Washington; 11 August 1978
Israel State Archives, A/4173/13

Records the meeting of the prime minister and the ministers with Quandt on 9 August in Tel Aviv. Quandt flew with Vance to Egypt to bring Sadat the invitation to Camp David. He reported on the positive reaction of Sadat, who promised to curb the attacks by the Egyptian press on Israel. Sadat reassured Vance about the October 1978 deadline. He also said that every leader at Camp David must be in a position not only to discuss the issues, but also to decide. The second part of the meeting was devoted to the situation in Lebanon.

 Preparations for the Camp David conference in Israel

13. Ephraim Evron, Director-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jerusalem to Simcha Dinitz, Israel Ambassador in Washington; 27 August 1978
Israel State Archives, A/4155/14

Main points of the prime minister’s meeting with US ambassador Samuel Lewis, who was about to leave for Washington. Begin said that he would propose to President Carter to ensure the continuation of direct negotiations and to hold continuous talks  until they reached an agreement. If asked to discuss guidelines for the agreement, Israel would gladly do so. If agreement was reached, the conference would be fully successful; if not, the continuation of negotiations would be a partial success. Israel was ready to discuss a partial agreement if there were reciprocal concessions by the Egyptians. Begin rejected any possibility of allowing foreign forces, including the UN, into Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip, but Israel would accept joint patrols in the Sinai. He also discussed the source of authority for the autonomy.

14. Statement by Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan at a Meeting of Department Directors; Jerusalem, 31 August 1978
Israel State Archives, MFA/6913/1
Dayan’s assessment on the eve of the Camp David summit. He states that for thirty years there has not been an opportunity as good as this one to reach peace. In his opinion, the Palestinians are interested in living in peace with Israel within open borders.

14a. Statement by Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan at a Meeting with the Prime Minister’s Mission of the United Jewish Appeal, Jerusalem; 30 August 1978 (in English)
Israel State Archives, MFA/6913/1
Another assessment on the eve of Camp David. In reply to questions, Dayan discussed the importance of demilitarization in the Sinai and the difficulties of Israeli public relations in the US. In his view the conflict could not be resolved without a solution to the refugee problem.

15. Simcha Dinitz, Israel Ambassador in Washington, to Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan and Ephraim Evron, Director-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jerusalem; 31 August 1978
Israel State Archives, MFA/4173/13

His meeting with Vice-President Mondale. After hearing the views of Begin and Dayan on Israel’s expectations from the Camp David conference, Mondale commented that the Americans saw it as an opportunity that might not recur. Only Sadat could reach a decision on behalf of Egypt. Thus the summit should be used to make decisions about principles or guidelines that would serve as a basis for a settlement, and not just to set a date for more discussions. Sadat could reply to questions that Israel had been asking for a long time about the agreement, and these answers would be binding.

16. Meeting between Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan and Minister of Agriculture Ariel Sharon; 1 September 1978
Israel State Archives, MFA/6913/7
Describes Israel’s settlement plans in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and the most essential areas in Sharon’s opinion. According to him, if Israel makes concessions at Camp David, it would be best to lean towards greater autonomy for the Arab residents, and he objected to increased Jordanian influence in Judea and Samaria. Dayan expressed apprehension that a Palestinian state would allow the return of large numbers of refugees. In his opinion, most of the residents were interested in a link with Jordan. His main concern was that at Camp David – “I wouldn’t want us to accept any obligation that would hinder the continuation of our work”.

17. Meeting between Israel Ambassador in Washington Simcha Dinitz and Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, Washington; 2 September 1978
Israel State Archives, MFA/6866/11
Vance’s impressions of internal consultations in the State Department and the National Security Council, on the eve of the Camp David conference. The president rejected modest proposals, and has set the bar high. He is interested in real progress towards a peace agreement between Israel and Egypt and a framework of principles for an agreement on the Palestinian issue. Vance pointed to the concessions required from Israel, so that Sadat would be able to claim that he received some commitment to the principle of withdrawal. The US has promised that they would not present any proposal of their own without first consulting with Israel.

18. Consultation by the Israeli Delegation to Camp David with Yitzhak Hofi, Head of the Mossad, the Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations; New York, 4 September 1978
Israel State Archives, A/4155/15
Dinitz presents the information he received from Vance and President Carter’s aides on their preparations for the conference and their expectations from Israel. Begin clarifies Israel’s position on the status of Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip. Israel will not withdraw and will not agree to Arab sovereignty, but is prepared to leave the issue open. With regard to the settlements in Sinai, there is a national consensus not to evacuate them. Dayan proposes to raise the issue of the crises in Iran and Lebanon, in order to emphasize Israel’s security needs, which are beyond transient geopolitical changes.

Part 2. Camp David: The summit that almost failed

PM Menachem Begin and President Carter and their wives, Aliza Begin and Rosalynn Carter at Camp David, 6 September 1978. Photograph: Moshe Milner, GPO

 Egypt and Israel take a hard line, 5-9 September 1978
19. Consultation by the Israeli Delegation; Camp David, 6 September 1978, Morning
Israel State Archives, MFA/6913/7
Dayan proposes that Weizman begin to discuss Sinai with the Egyptians, because it is impossible to make any progress on Judea and Samaria. Weizman argues that the Palestinian issue is the main one. If agreement on that can be reached, it will be easy to conclude the discussions on Sinai. Maj. General Tamir reviews the military talks with Egypt. The absence of military or technical experts in the Egyptian delegation makes it impossible to discuss details. Sadat will take the decisions on the Egyptian side.

20. Meeting between President Mohammed Anwar Sadat and Minister of Defence Ezer Weizman; Camp David; 6 September 1978
Israel State Archives, A/4314/1
Sadat agrees to Weizman’s request that he meet with Dayan. In his opinion, there is no need to reach a declaration of principles at Camp David, but rather a framework for continuing the peace negotiations. He will continue the discussions on the Palestinian issue even if King Husssein does not join them.

21. Consultation by the Israeli Delegation; Camp David, 6 September 1978 at 18:00 p.m.
Israel State Archives, MFA/6913/7
Begin describes his meeting with Sadat and Carter. Sadat presented a more extreme proposal than any Egyptian document presented to date. Carter hinted that it was not acceptable to the US either. The delegation discussed how to react and whether to prepare a counter proposal. In Dayan’s opinion, the Americans knew about the Egyptian proposal in advance, and even invited it so that they could present a compromise document.

22. Handwritten Notes by Maj. General Avraham Tamir and Defence Minister Ezer Weizman; Camp David, September 1978
Israel State Archives, G/14537/7
In Tamir’s note, dated 7 September 1978, he explains that in his opinion it is possible, in exchange for peace, to evacuate all the settlements in Sinai itself. They have no security value. The settlements in the Rafah Salient will be joined to the Gaza Strip. In Judea and Samaria a freeze on new construction can be agreed together with increasing the density of the existing settlements.
The note from Weizman to Barak is undated and gives his opinion on the negotiations, possibly on the US proposal: “If before the Six Day War we had been offered that the IDF would be stationed in the [West] Bank; open borders; limited Israeli settlement as agreed with our neighbours; a united Jerusalem – there would have been dancing in the streets”

The notes were found among the documents of Aharon Barak in the Israel State Archives

23. Consultation by the Israeli Delegation; Camp David, 7 September 1978 at 19:00 p.m.
Israel State Archives, MFA/6913/7
Begin describes his meeting with Carter and Sadat. After his proposal to continue the talks between Weizman and Gamassy on Sinai, they talked about the Egyptian demand to evacuate the Israeli airfields and settlements. Carter suggested that if all other points of dispute were settled, and only the issue of the settlements was left, Begin would go to the Knesset and recommend dismantling the settlements. Begin said that he would not get a majority. The Americans announced that they would present a proposal for a framework agreement. Barak and the ministers described their talks with the US delegation.

24. Consultation by the Israeli Delegation; Camp David, 8 September 1978 at 11:45 a.m.
Israel State Archives, MFA/6913/7
Barak, the foreign minister and the defence minister report on their meeting with Secretary Vance and National Security Adviser Brzezinski on matters related to the autonomy plan: the source of authority, the future of the settlements. According to the prime minister, there is no reason to agree to a freeze on settlements in Judea and Samaria, which would not ensure an agreement with Sadat. It was unthinkable to demolish the settlements in Sinai.

24A. Consultation by the Israeli Delegation; Camp David, 8 September 1978 at 17:00 p.m.
Israel State Archives, MFA/6913/7
A report by the prime minister on his meeting with Carter. He again described Israel’s objections to evacuating the settlements in Sinai and to a freeze on construction in Judea and Samaria. The US will present a plan and show it to Israel before transmitting it to Sadat. Dayan said he had proposed to Vance leaving the issue of settlements to the end. Weizman said that under peace conditions it would be possible to transfer the Etzion airport near Eilat to Israeli territory. Tamir argues: “Our main effort should be to ensure our control over Judea and Samaria, and Egypt would receive the maximum that it is possible to give, without endangering our security”. Dayan and Begin oppose concessions on security in Sinai in return for achievements in Judea and Samaria. In Weizman’s opinion, those areas are more important for Israel’s security.

 The US proposal and the reactions of Egypt and Israel, 10-11 September

25. Talk between Foreign Minister Dayan, Legal Adviser Barak, Israel Ambassador in Washington Dinitz, Legal Adviser of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Rosenne, and Deputy Director-General and Head of the Foreign Minister’s Bureau Rubinstein, and Secretary of State Vance and the US Ambassador in Israel, Lewis; Camp David, Saturday Evening, 9 September 1978
Israel State Archives, MFA/6913/7
A preliminary talk before the presentation of the American proposal. In Vance’s opinion, the two sides have made great progress. He proposes that the Americans join the talks on security arrangements in Sinai between Israel and Egypt. Dayan attempts to include the issue of the settlements in Sinai in these talks. The Israeli fear that a demand for withdrawal in Sinai would serve as a precedent for evacuating settlements in the Golan Heights.

26. Meeting between President Carter, Vice-President Mondale, Secretary of State Vance, National Security Adviser Brzezinski and Prime Minister Begin, Foreign Minister Dayan, Defence Minister Weizman and Legal Adviser Aharon Barak; Camp David, 10 September 1978
Israel State Archives, A/4314/1
President Carter presents the American proposal for a framework agreement with Egypt. Certain issues will be discussed separately: the problem of sovereignty in Judea and Samaria, which will not be raised at Camp David, and the problems of the settlements and the Sinai agreement. He reviews the advantages of the agreement from Israel’s point of view, and requests that the Israelis keep changes to the minimum and demonstrate flexibility. He needs to present the proposal to Egypt as soon as possible. Begin asks for some time to study the proposal. His objection to the inclusion of a clause on the principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war.

Appendix: The American Proposal for a Framework Agreement for Peace in the Middle East
The proposal includes a preamble on the intentions of the parties to sign a peace treaty based on UN Resolution 242, among them the principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war, and a call to negotiations based on these principles on all fronts. The proposal contains two parts; one on the principles of the negotiations for a peace agreement between Israel and Egypt, and the second on resolution of the Palestinian problem and the establishment of autonomy in Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip.

27. Summary of a Talk between President Carter and Foreign Minister Dayan and Legal Adviser Barak; Camp David, 11 September 1978
Israel State Archives, MFA/6913/7
President Carter related that the Americans presented the Egyptians with a draft of the framework agreement, with some of the changes that Israel proposed. Sadat requested several changes and gave the document to his advisers. They will reply the following day. Carter complained about some of Israel’s changes, and Dayan and Barak explained the background to their position. He seemed to be convinced. Details of the changes Sadat requested and the Israeli reaction; the issues related to Sinai which are not yet agreed upon.

 A day of crisis (12 September 1978)

28. Consultation by the Israeli Delegation; Camp David, 12 September 1978
Israel State Archives, MFA/6866/11

The foreign minister reports to his colleagues (the prime minister was not present) on his talk with Lewis, in which he told him that he and Barak intend to go home. A discussion of the changes in the American draft expected to be requested by the Egyptians. Vance asks them to be patient and wait for the new American draft.

 “Everyone has his own Camp David”: Aharon Barak – making and recording history

29. Report by Foreign Minister Dayan on his Talks with President Jimmy Carter and President Anwar Sadat; Camp David, 14 September 1978
Israel State Archives, MFA/6866/11
Before meeting Sadat, Dayan was asked to see Carter, who told him that he had tried to convince the president of Egypt to accept Israel’s proposal to sign a partial agreement and to leave the issue of the settlements in Sinai for a later stage, but without success. Dayan told Sadat that the entire delegation, not only Begin, opposed evacuating the settlements, and that the Knesset too would oppose it. He explained to Sadat why they were established. Sadat repeatedly accused Israel of wanting his land. He would not sign the other agreements, if the issue of the settlements was not settled.

29A. Extract on the Issue of Jerusalem, from the Consultation by the Israeli Delegation; Camp David, 14 September 1978 at 12:20p.m.
Israel State Archives, MFA/6913/7 (pp. 3–4)
Begin rejects Sadat’s proposal as presented by Dayan to allow the flying of a Moslem flag on the Temple Mount. It might be possible to agree, post-factum, to a flag on the mosque itself, but he would not sign any document on the matter.

Another crisis and breakthrough

30. Consultation by Foreign Minister Dayan, Defence Minister Weizman, Legal Adviser Barak, the Legal Adviser of the Foreign Office Rosenne, Maj. General Tamir and Others; Camp David, 15 September 1978
Israel State Archives, MFA/6866/11
The foreign minister and the defence minister seek a formula on the Sinai settlements. Dayan proposes agreeing to the evacuation of the military forces, with the fate of the civilians being settled towards the third year of the agreement. Meanwhile there would be elections and perhaps another government. If his proposal was not accepted, a clause could be included that the evacuation of civilians would be agreed between the parties. But there was no chance that the prime minister would agree. Weizman declares that in exchange for peace, he is prepared to evacuate the settlements. Tamir and Rosenne support him. In Weizman’s opinion, if there was an agreement to leave the airfields and the settlements, it would take the pressure off the issue of Judea and Samaria. Dayan reminds them that the delegation has no mandate to decide, and the question should be brought before the government and the Knesset. In Barak’s view, if the conference were successful, it would be a different Knesset.

31. Meeting between President Jimmy Carter and Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan and Legal Adviser Aharon Barak, Camp David; 16 September 1978
Israel State Archives, A/4314/1

See the translation on the Center for Israel Education website
President Carter presents the achievements Israel would gain in an agreement: full peace with Egypt, security arrangements in Sinai, safe passage in international waters, a military presence in Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip, and veto rights on the final agreement. Most of its demands were accepted. Israel’s relations with the US and the world would improve, and it could end the military occupation. Begin praises Carter’s efforts and agrees that the gap between the two parties is small. He still wishes to include a clause on continuing the negotiations related to the settlements in Sinai. If that is not possible, he would agree to a free vote in the Knesset within two weeks, on the question of whether it would agree to evacuate the settlements in Sinai, if all other issues were resolved. Other problems will be discussed with Sadat.
The second part of the meeting was devoted to the demand by the Americans to freeze construction of settlements in Judea and Samaria during the negotiations. The text is also based on Barak’s examination of his notes, sent on 20 September in a telegram to the prime minister (Document No. 36).
Begin describes Israel’s settlement plans during the three months of negotiations with Egypt. During the discussion a question arises about the negotiations on the autonomy arrangements and the transition period of five years. It was decided that Begin would write a letter on this issue to Carter. Carter proposes a text for the letter, in which it is not clear which period of negotiations he means. Begin says that he will consider and reply the following day.

31A. Consultation after the Talk with President Carter; Camp David, 17 September 1978
Israel State Archives, MFA/6913/7
Begin, Dayan and Barak summarize the results of the discussion. Dayan recounts that Sharon had called Begin and told him that the settlements in Sinai should not prevent peace.

Last minute troubles over Jerusalem, signing the Camp David Accords

32. Talk between Israel Ambassador Simcha Dinitz and Vice-President Walter Mondale; Camp David, 17 September 1978 at 13:30 p.m.
Israel State Archives, MFA/6867/1
Israel’s objection to the letter that President Carter intends to send to Sadat instead of the Jerusalem clause, which defines East Jerusalem as occupied territory. The prime minister will not sign the agreement if this letter accompanies it. This step is dangerous and illogical, because the US had declared many times that Jerusalem would not be divided again. Mondale explained that this involved the president’s promise to Sadat. He would attempt to find a solution.

33. Talk between President Carter and Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan; 17 September 1978 at 14:00 p.m.
Israel State Archives, MFA/6867/1
Carter explains that Sadat is very sensitive on the Jerusalem issue. Dayan objects to the US move to declare publicly its own position on the issue of Jerusalem. “We are here, at Camp David, and wish to arrive at an agreement with Egypt, not deal with the US positions. When you say that the territory is occupied territory the result is that the Hebrew University, the Western Wall, the Jewish Quarter are occupied territory, only because they were taken by force in ’48 by Abdullah, and in ’67 we took them back”. According to Carter he cannot retreat and Israel cannot prevent the Americans from clarifying their historic position. He proposes that Vance and Barak find a solution. Vance proposes that the letter confirm the position of the US in the declarations of its representatives at the UN, without details.

34. The Framework Agreements for Peace in the Middle East that were Agreed upon at Camp David; 17 September 1978
Israel State Archives, A/320/3 (in English)

Appendices: Letters attached to the Agreements in Hebrew and English, on the Positions of the Parties on the Subject of JerusalemMatter of the Prime Minister’s Promise to Bring the Issue of Evacuating the Settlements in Sinai to a Vote in the Knesset, President Sadat’s letter on this issue, etc.

Israel State Archives, A/4155/15, A/4314/3

President Sadat applauding President Carter and PM Begin as they embrace after the signing of the Camp David Accords at the White House, 17 September 1978. Photograph: Moshe Milner, GPO

Arguments over settlements, the Knesset approves the accords

35. Hanan Bar-On, Israel Minister in Washington to Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan, Jerusalem; 20 September 1978
Israel State Archives, A/4313/4
Claims by the president and Vance that the letter Begin wrote to Carter on the issue of the settlements in Judea and Samaria does not correspond to the understandings reached at Camp David and recorded by them. They believe that Begin agreed that there would be no new settlements established during the period of the negotiations on establishing the institutions of the autonomy. The president reported this to Sadat, and on this basis he took a section on the issue out of the framework agreement. Begin’s reaction to their claims: he cannot change the letter. If the Americans want a different formula, he will consult with the members of the delegation after he returns to Israel. Vance has instructed that the letter be returned to Begin. In Lewis’s opinion it was a misunderstanding.

36. Aharon Barak, Jerusalem, to Prime Minister Menachem Begin, New York; 20 September 1978
Israel State Archives, A/4314/4
After a disagreement developed over the prime minister’s promise on a freeze on establishing new settlements, Begin asked Barak to provide him with the notes he made at the meeting of 16 September. Barak sends him the minutes of the meeting.

37. Extracts from Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan’s Speech and Prime Minister Menachem Begin’s Reply to the Debate in the Knesset on the Camp David Agreements, Jerusalem; 27 September 1978.
Israel State Archives, MFA/6913/3; Divrei HaKnesset (Knesset Reports) Second Sitting of the Fifth Knesset, Vol. 83, pp. 4186 -4191

Dayan claims that at Camp David no pressure had been exerted by the US. The Israeli delegation acted under the pressure of reality: the choice between the hope of reaching full peace, and the heavy price that must be paid for it. Those objecting to the agreement must present a realistic alternative. If Israel does not move towards peace it will be subject to isolation and international pressure. In the past he had not supported the partial agreements, but today he declares: “Peace without Sharm el Sheikh is better than Sharm el Sheikh without peace, if it is possible to ensure safe passage for Israeli ships [through the Tiran Straits]”.
The prime minister replies to the critics of the agreement, describing the struggle at Camp David to keep the settlements in Sinai. He emphasizes the importance of taking Egypt out of the cycle of war, and calls on all the members of the house to unite around the chance for peace.

 

38. Meeting between Prime Minister Menachem Begin and US Ambassador Samuel Lewis; the Prime Minister’s Bureau in the Knesset Building, Jerusalem, 27 September 1978 (in English)
Israel State Archives, MFA/6913/3
Begin explains the parliamentary situation in the debate on the Camp David agreements. If he does not achieve a majority of members of the coalition he will resign. He is not prepared to rely on opposition support. The demonstrations against the agreement are unprecedented and have angered him greatly. In the future, the US must take into consideration his difficulties, not only those of Sadat. He proposes sending a message to President Carter about the settlements, based on Barak’s notes. He is not willing to give a commitment that it will be possible to discuss establishing new settlements during the talks on autonomy. Lewis wants to postpone the continuation of the argument. The president too feels that he must defend his credibility.

39. Oral Message from Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Jerusalem, to President Jimmy Carter, Washington; 27 September 1978 (in English)
ISA/MFA/6913/3
In the message, transmitted by the prime minister’s adviser Yehuda Avner to the ambassador, Simcha Dinitz, Begin describes the results of his enquiries about the commitment to freezing settlement in the territories. According to Barak’s notes, he did indeed say that he would consider the matter and give his answer. This answer was presented the following day, and related only to the period of negotiations with Egypt.