הMaking 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.

Part 3. The Washington talks on the peace treaty end in deadlock, October 1978-January 1979

 

40. US President Jimmy Carter, Washington, to Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Jerusalem; 28 September 1978 (in English)

Israel State Archives, A/4173/15

After the Camp David Accords were approved by the Knesset, the president seeks to advance the talks on Sinai as soon as possible. Discussions should also be started on the implementation of the provisions of the framework agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Carter reports on the contacts that Secretary of State Vance held with King Hussein and with the Saudis and the Syrians. King Hussein is debating and has not yet decided to join the negotiations. He hopes he will decide in the affirmative.

41. Yehuda Avner, Advisor to the Prime Minister, Jerusalem, to Simcha Dinitz, Israel Ambassador in Washington; 29 September 1978

Israel State Archives, A/4314/4

A brief Hebrew version of a telephone conversation between President Carter and the prime minister on September 28.  Begin’s response to the vote of some Herut members against the Camp David Accords. Preparations for sending a delegation headed by Foreign Minister Dayan to negotiate the peace treaty.

Negotiations in Washington and approval of the draft agreement, October-November 1978

42. Meeting between Prime Minister Menachem Begin and his Team and the Roving US Ambassador, Alfred (Roy) Atherton; Jerusalem, 29 September 1978 (in English)

Israel State Archives, A/4173/15

They discussed arrangements for the negotiations in Washington and the response of Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Syria to the Camp David Accords. King Hussein was insulted by the inclusion of a role for Jordan in the framework of the agreement on the Palestinians without consulting him. The Saudi leadership does not want to hurt Sadat, but is afraid of splitting the Arab world. Atherton would meet with Palestinian public leaders to hear their opinion. He warned that if the Saudis stood by and did not support the agreement, their position would influence Hussein and Sadat. Syria condemned the agreement and Assad claimed it was a separate peace, but stressed that it was still committed to Resolution 242.

43. Consultation before the opening of the talks in Washington; Jerusalem, 4 October 1978

Israel State Archives, MFA/6913/3

Dayan, Weizman, Barak, Rosen, Tamir and senior officials consult on the general lines of the peace treaty with Egypt ahead of the opening of the talks in Washington. In Dayan’s view, it is in Israel’s interest to postpone the opening of talks on autonomy. In Barak’s view, Israel should decide which clauses of the agreement are vital and insist on the minimum necessary. Discussion on the first stage of the withdrawal and the quid pro quo that Israel will receive from Egypt.  A proposal to cancel reciprocal claims following Egypt’s claim for compensation for oil produced by Israel from wells in Sinai.

44. Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Jerusalem, to Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan and Minister of Defence Ezer Weizman, Washington; 12 October 1978

Israel State Archives, A/4314/7

Begin is indignant at President Carter’s remarks about Sadat’s refusal to carry out Egypt’s commitment to establish diplomatic relations with Israel immediately after the first stage of withdrawal, as agreed at Camp David. Begin does not object to an early withdrawal if it is possible militarily and practically. It must be made clear to Egypt that the signing of the peace treaty will not lead to the immediate abolition of the military government in Judea and Samaria and Gaza or the release of terrorists. Begin adds instructions on the invitation to President Carter to visit Israel, Energy Minister Modai’s suggestions for clauses on cooperation with Egypt in the development of oil and gas fields in the Sinai and Sharon’s proposals on the first withdrawal line and rebuilding Yamit between Khan Yunis and Rafah.

45. Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan, Washington, to Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Jerusalem; 15 October 1978

Israel State Archives, MFA/6913/4

Dayan and the defence minister met with Atherton and Saunders, the assistant secretary for Near Eastern affairs, who was about to visit Jordan with the Administration’s answers to questions asked by Hussein. Dayan spoke about the progress of the drafting committee working on the treaty and Israel’s opposition to linkage between the Israeli-Egyptian agreement and the handling of the Palestinian question. Israel also opposes the Egyptian proposal to reexamine the agreement after five years. Dayan argued that the answers to Hussein would not change the situation. In any case Jordan and the Palestinians would not enter into negotiations before the signing of the treaty.

45A. Telephone conversation between Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan and Prime Minister Menachem Begin, 15 October 1978

Israel State Archives, MFA/6913/4

Dayan informs Begin about his proposal to Egypt for an exchange of letters between the prime minister and Sadat on Israel’s intention to implement the provisions of the Camp David Accords on the Palestinian issue. Begin wants to see the proposed text and to consider it. Egypt’s request for gestures towards the Palestinians and to allow a visit by an Egyptian delegation to the Gaza Strip. Dayan tends to agree to the visit after signing the peace treaty. In his opinion, Aharon Barak should join the talks.

 46. Meeting between Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Assistant Secretary of State Harold Saunders; Jerusalem, 20 October 1978 (in English)

Israel State Archives, A/4314/4

The prime minister wants the US to take into account the internal problems of the Israeli government, not just Sadat’s problems with the Arab world. Saunders describes the position of Jordan and Saudi Arabia and the possibility of Jordan entering the negotiations. Begin analyzes the US answers to Jordan and claims that they are not compatible with what was agreed at Camp David. They will encourage the Arab states’ claim that the goal of the agreement is to bring about the establishment of a Palestinian state. Begin expresses strong opposition to the US position on Jerusalem in its reply to Jordan and on questions that were not discussed with Israel. His fear that the answers would encourage Sadat to harden his positions.

46A. Yosef Ciechanover, Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jerusalem to Moshe Dayan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Ezer Weizman, Minister of Defence, Washington, 20 October 1978

Israel State Archives, A/4174/1

The main points of Prime Minister Begin’s talk with Saunders in Hebrew.

47. US President Jimmy Carter, Washington, to Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Jerusalem; 22 October 1978 (in English)

Israel State Archives, A/4174/1

Describes the efforts he devoted to negotiating the peace treaty and the constructive attitude of the Israeli delegation. A draft treaty was agreed, and Weizman and Dayan will recommend that the government adopt it. In his opinion, it is a fair and balanced agreement. Carter also recommends adopting the proposal that Begin and Sadat exchange letters on self-rule on the day the treaty is signed. He has asked Sadat personally to resolve some points of disagreement in the treaty. He hopes to join Begin and Sadat at the signing ceremony.

  1. [Excerpts from the remarks of Moshe Dayan at a] meeting of the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee of the Knesset, October 24, 1978

 Israel State Archives , A/239/8

Dayan presents the understandings reached with the Egyptians and the problems of linkage and priority of obligations. He favours advancing the Sinai withdrawal in order to allow a test period for normalization. The reactions of the committee members testify to the fears aroused by Saunders’ statements about the fate of Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip. Dayan tries to calm their fears. The Foreign Ministry legal adviser, Meir Rosenne, explains Israel’s achievements in the draft treaty.

49. Meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee, Tel Aviv, 25 October 1978

Israel State Archives, A/239/8

Dayan presents the government’s decision to approve the draft treaty with Egypt in principle but to instruct the delegation in Washington to try to obtain improvements.

 50. Defence Minister Ezer Weizman, Washington, to Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Jerusalem; 29 October 1978

Israel State Archives, A/4314/9

Dayan and Weizman met with Egyptian Defence Minister Ali and Foreign Minister Ghali, at the initiative of the Egyptians. Ghali expressed concern over Israel-Egypt relations following the government’s decision to “thicken” the settlements in Judea and Samaria and to announce its intention to transfer government offices to East Jerusalem. Dayan justified the moves, which were a reaction to the US replies to Jordan and Saunders’ comments on the settlements and Jerusalem. Unlike Sinai, Israel does not intend to leave Judea and Samaria. Ghali presented Egypt’s claims about its isolation in the Arab world and the fear of cuts in Saudi aid. Dayan repeated Israel’s willingness to begin discussions on preparing the elections for autonomy, but rejected the idea of ​​a special role for Egypt in Gaza.

51. Minister of Defence Ezer Weizman, Washington, to Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Jerusalem; 30 October 1978

Israel State Archives, A/4314/9

Weizman asks the prime minister to bring the proposal to evacuate El Arish and the northern Sinai coastal area at an earlier stage (as proposed by the Israeli delegation in Washington) for the government’s approval as soon as possible. The position of the General Staff is that there is no security risk in this step, and the early withdrawal is important to Egypt and was discussed with them many times.

52. Yehuda Avner, Advisor to the Prime Minister, New York, to Yigael Yadin, Deputy Prime Minister, Jerusalem; 2 November 1978

Israel State Archives, A/ 4174/3

Prime Minister Begin’s conversation with Secretary Vance in New York, with the participation of the delegation to Washington. Begin explained that in contrast to the situation at the Camp David summit, the Israeli delegation, and even he himself, had no authority to make decisions on the negotiations, and they had to bring the proposals to the cabinet plenum. He proposed changes in the wording of the letter on the establishment of autonomy and was reluctant to set an exact date for the elections, in view of the Palestinian opposition to the agreements. He again demanded that a clause quoting the Camp David Accords inserted at the request of the Egyptians be taken out, on the grounds that it was unnecessary. Vance replied that it was necessary, because without this clause the Egyptians would not sign the treaty.

53. Ezer Weizman, Minister of Defence, Washington, to Yigael Yadin, Deputy Prime Minister, Jerusalem; 8 November 1978 (also transmitted to the Prime Minister, who was in Canada)

Israel State Archives, A /4314/11

Weizman reports on his conversation with the Egyptian defence minister. He told Ali about the government’s decision not to specify the stages of the withdrawal (including the early evacuation of El Arish) but to postpone the discussions until after the signing of the peace treaty. Weizman wanted to convey a message to Sadat that things would be agreed upon between him and Ali on a joint committee. After contacting Cairo to hear their reaction, Ali said that Israel’s proposal would create a very bad impression on Sadat and the Egyptian army chiefs. Egypt offers Israel a generous offer of peace and normalization. In view of the outcome of the Baghdad conference, Israel must help Egypt.

54. Moshe Dayan, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Washington, to Yigael Yadin, Deputy Prime Minister, Jerusalem; 8 November 1978

Israel State Archives, A/4314/11

Reports on a meeting with Vance, in which Weizman told him about the government decision and the reaction of the Egyptian defence minister. In his opinion, if the prime minister supports the agreement, the government will approve it. Dayan believes they should both take part in the government meeting. Vance said that as far as he was concerned, the text of the treaty was closed, and neither side should reopen it.

55. Moshe Dayan, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Washington, to Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Toronto, and Deputy Prime Minister Yigael Yadin, Jerusalem; 10 November 1978

Israel State Archives, A/4314/11

Reports on a meeting with Ghali on his return from Cairo. Ghali described the atmosphere following the Baghdad conference and the demand of the Egyptian government, including Prime Minister Khalil and Hassan Tohami, to ensure progress on the Palestinian issue in parallel with the implementation of the treaty between Egypt and Israel. They want to establish a timetable for negotiations on autonomy in the joint letter. Negotiations will begin a month after the signing, and within 4-5 months there will be elections. In addition, a date will be set for the withdrawal of the military government. Dayan explained that Israel would not negotiate autonomy before signing the peace treaty. The Egyptians sought unilateral steps to improve the situation of the Palestinians and a permanent Egyptian delegation in Gaza.

56. Report on a meeting between the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Dayan, Defence Minister Weizman and Energy Minister Modai; Toronto, 10 November 1978

Israel  State Archives, A 4314/11

Dayan told Begin about Egypt’s new demands and the US response. He reviewed other issues, including the American letters to accompany the treaty and Egypt’s request for gestures to the Palestinians: Israel will respond to some of them but rejects the idea of ​​a permanent Egyptian delegation in Gaza. According to Weizman, 95 percent of the military issues are closed. The military agreement is good for Israel. Dayan and Weizman sought instructions from Begin to remain in the United States for a few days to complete the negotiations. Moda’i reported on the positions of the parties on the oil issue and his assessment that Egypt had hardened its position on the Palestinian issue. Barak believes that the Americans too do not want negotiations on an arrangement in Judea and Samaria at this stage. The aim of the joint letter is to ensure that this process begins. Barak and Rosen agree that the proposed treaty is good for Israel. According to Rosen, “it is more in our favour than in favour of the Egyptians.” Begin wants to postpone the decision to a government meeting with the participation of all the ministers. Dayan and Weizman warn that if the treaty is rejected, they will not be able to return to Washington.

57. US President Jimmy Carter, Washington, to Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Jerusalem; 11 November 1978 (in English)

Israel State Archives, A/4348/6

A personal appeal to the prime minister in light of the difficulties that have arisen in the peace negotiations, which cast doubt on their success. Calls for flexibility on both sides and  to avoid public quarrels and going back to issues already agreed upon. The advantages of the treaty are far greater than the small disagreements that remain. Calls on him to approve the draft treaty brought to him by Vance.

58. Telephone conversation between US President Jimmy Carter, Washington and Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Toronto; 12 November 1978 (in English)

Israel State Archives, A/4314/11

Carter reiterates his call for Israel to accept a “reasonable compromise.” Begin claims that the draft treaty he received deviates from what was agreed at Camp David. Egypt has no right to retract on the issue of exchanging ambassadors on the basis of a promise made by Weizman without authority. In the joint letter, Israel cannot accept Egypt’s demand for a specific date for holding elections in view of the practical difficulties, including PLO threats against the Palestinians. Begin asks the United States to consider Israel’s aid request and opposes the attempt to portray it as extortion. Carter explains that the target date for elections for autonomy is intended to ensure that they will be held. It is impossible to continue working with a situation where any arrangement with the Israeli delegation is sent to the government for further discussion and changes.

60. Aryeh Naor, Government Secretary, Jerusalem, to Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Toronto; 12 November 1978

Israel State Archives, MFA/6913/6

In the cabinet meeting, Minister Burg had asked for clarifications regarding agreements with the Egyptians prior to the discussion on the draft peace treaty. Burg wants to convey to Begin “his feeling that the Egyptians and the Americans want to treat us as a defeated nation.” There is a new and dangerous attempt to link the timetable of the withdrawal in Sinai with the establishment of autonomy.

Begin, accompanied by Barak and Dayan, meets Secretary Vance at Kennedy airport, 12 November 1978. Photograph: Yaacov Saar, GPO

61. Simcha Dinitz, Israel Ambassador in Washington to Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Jerusalem; 13 November 1978

Israel State Archives, A/4314/10

Minutes of the meeting between Secretary Vance, Prime Minister Begin  and the Israeli delegation, with the participation of Dinitz and Ministers Modai and Ehrlich, at Kennedy Airport on 12 November 1978 in the evening. Begin, who was on his way back to Israel, wanted to sum up the negotiations before the government debate on the treaty. He repeated his request  for a favourable consideration of Israel’s request for aid. Vance refused to commit himself. A discussion was held on a draft letter from the president to Begin and Sadat on autonomy, prepared the previous night with Dayan’s help, which was to replace the joint letter. It included a target date of one year. Begin refused to express an opinion and referred it to the government. Dayan was asked by Vance to comment but refused because it was clear that Begin did not want to hear him. After a discussion on the oil issue, Dayan returned to the proposal for a joint letter and made it clear that the peace treaty with Egypt would be implemented nine months later, before the target date for the establishment of the autonomy. Begin sought to bring the decision to the government, together with a renewed discussion on advancing the first stages of the withdrawal.

62. Simcha Dinitz, Israel Ambassador in Washington to Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan, Jerusalem; 14 November 1978

Israel State Archives, A/4314/10

A talk between Stuart Eizenstat and Dinitz on Israel’s request for economic aid from the United States in connection with the peace agreement. The angry response of the president, who views the claim as an attempt to make acceptance of the peace treaty conditional on financial assistance. Dinitz explained the position of Israel.

63. Prime Minister Menachem Begin’s remarks at the meeting of the Herut Central Committee; Tel Aviv, 19 November 1978

 Jabotinsky Institute, H-1/32/2/1

Begin’s response to the demonstrations against him and to accusations that he had betrayed the Land of Israel by supporting the draft peace agreement with Egypt. When the chances of ending the war with Egypt were weighed in the balance against the concessions that Israel was required to make, he chose peace. He had given up his own reservations to the peace treaty so as not to change the draft. In his opinion, the Camp David Accords guarantee Israel’s interests in Judea and Samaria and the security of the state.

64. Extract from Ezer Weizman’s speech at the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee; Jerusalem, 20 November 1978

Israel State Archives, A/ 239/9

65.?. Barzilai, Israel Embassy in Paris, to the Centre for Research and Policy Planning, Jerusalem; 20 November 1978

Israel State Archives, A/8190/3

In an interview on French TV on 18 November 1978, Sadat explained Egypt’s position on the linkage between the peace treaty and the establishment of autonomy. Egypt will not sign a separate peace. Egypt has an emotional relationship with the Gaza Strip and feels obligated to it. That is why it proposes to start autonomy there. After the Israelis become accustomed to autonomy, they will cease to fear Palestinian independence.

66. Telephone conversation between Prime Minister Menachem Begin and President Carter; Jerusalem, 21 November 1978 (in English)

Israel State Archives, A/4174/5

The prime minister informs Carter about the government decision to approve the draft treaty but to reject Egypt’s latest proposals. He explains the reasons for the government’s rejection of a timetable for the establishment of autonomy, especially the growing opposition to the plan in Judea and Samaria, including a bus attack near Jericho. This will make it difficult to implement the agreement, and it is impossible to impose autonomy. Begin asked for a US commitment on oil and economic aid. Carter promised to tell Sadat about their conversation. Egypt insists on guarantees for the implementation of autonomy. The oil problem is soluble; Dayan and Weizman should return to Washington for more talks.

67. Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, Cairo, to Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Jerusalem; 30 November 1978 (in English)

Israel State Archives, A/4174/5

The moment of truth in the negotiations is approaching. Points to the advantages of the Egyptian proposal for Israel, and especially Egypt’s agreement to establish normal relations with it. In his opinion, Begin is trying to avoid the obligations he undertook at Camp David regarding the establishment of autonomy. If the implementation of the plan is not possible due to Palestinian resistance, Israel will not be held responsible. Complains that Israel is not working to encourage the Palestinians to participate.

Vance’s visit to the Middle East, December 1978

68. Simcha Dinitz, Israel Ambassador to Washington, to Moshe Dayan, Jerusalem; 7 December 1978

Israel State Archives, A/4174/6

As he ends his term in Washington, Dinitz assesses the US position and its response to the government’s decisions and to Begin’s letter to Sadat. The US is disappointed with Israel’s announcement that it sees the negotiations as final and its rejection of the American draft of the joint letter, and troubled by the Egyptian demands. Vance is being sent to the area to bridge the gap. In Dinitz’s opinion, if Israel agrees to a target date for the establishment of autonomy, it must be set after the withdrawal and the exchange of ambassadors. Israel should emphasize that the implementation of the treaty will not be affected by disagreements over autonomy or relations with third parties.

69. Meeting between the Members of the Ministerial Committee for Security Affairs and the Delegation of Secretary of State Vance; 14 December 1978 (in English)

Israel State Archives, A/4314/13

The ministers informed Vance that Israel rejected Egypt’s proposals on Article VI and the exchange of ambassadors. Agreement can be reached on Article IV on review of the treaty. Israel is ready to enter into negotiations on a joint letter with no target date. Weizman suggested that Dayan go with Vance to Cairo for further talks. Begin rejected the idea. Sharon claimed that the government was losing the support of the public. It is not clear what will happen if Israel does not act according to Sadat’s expectations. He says there are two camps in the government; one prefers not to specify the autonomy plan and leave a “fog” and another camp, which he supports, wants to determine what will happen in the future. In his opinion, this agreement is more important than changes in wording. Vance agreed, but warned that in Cairo, too, the agreement was losing support.

70. The Information Department, Jerusalem, to Israel’s Missions Abroad, 18 December 1978

Israel State Archives, A/4174/6

A concise explanation of the current crisis in the talks, based on Dayan’s briefing of department heads in the Foreign Ministry. The US supports the Egyptian positions because in its view, it is impossible to achieve greater concessions than these from any other Arab leader. But the draft peace treay is the most that Israel is prepared for. It is still willing to negotiate the joint letter.

71. Hanan Bar-On, Israel Minister in Washington, to Joseph Ciechanover, Director General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jerusalem; 19 December 1978

Israel State Archives, A/4174/6

Ed Sanders, a member of the White House staff responsible for liason with the Jewish community, told Bar-On that he was receiving a growing stream of appeals from Jewish individuals and communities protesting against the Administration’s position that Israel is responsible for the failure of Vance’s mission. Sanders distributed a collection of these remarks to all levels of the White House and the State Department, and met with Carter, Vice-President Mondale and Brzezinski to try to persuade them to change the president’s approach to the difficulties in the negotiations. According to him, the focus of the problem is the White House and not the State Department. The latter is aware that the US needs to find a way that is acceptable to Israel to get out of the deadlock.

Stagnation in the talks and attempts at a breakthrough, December 1978-January 1979

72. Itzhak Minerbi, Israel Ambassador in Brussels, to Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Jerusalem; 24 December 1978

Israel State Archives, A/4313/14

In a joint meeting with Dayan and Secretary of State Vance in Brussels, Khalil repeated his remarks to Dayan about Egypt’s role in the region and the need to strengthen the clauses in the treaty on autonomy. However, when Dayan wanted to strengthen the joint letter instead of linkage in the treaty, it became clear that Khalil was not familiar with the discussions on the letter and said he needed to consult with Sadat. Dayan and Khalil discussed problems that might arise in connection with Egypt’s previous commitments to the Arab states (Article VI (5)). Khalil claimed that no Arab country would attack Israel if it had an agreement with Egypt. Even if Egypt justifies Syria’s claims to Israel, it will not support it if it goes to war for the Golan Heights. A discussion was held off the record on the possibility of holding elections for autonomy in Gaza alone and on a religious settlement in Jerusalem in order to satisfy Saudi Arabia.

73. Meeting of Deputy Directors-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan and Simcha Dinitz; Jerusalem, 9 January 1979

Israel State Archives, MFA/6914/3

A discussion on Israeli-US relations with Dinitz, who had returned from Washington. According to Dinitz, the differences of opinion between Israel and the US on the final status agreement have existed for many years, but they became concrete with the appearance of a serious partner for negotiations. Israel succeeded in “selling” the US the idea of ​​autonomy, but not the plan itself. The wording at Camp David was intended to allow Egypt to sign a treaty with Israel, but once decisions on autonomy were needed, the dispute with the US over settlements, economic aid, and guarantees of Israel’s security would be revived. According to Dinitz, Carter does not view Israel as a strategic asset. Dayan noted that not only America ia re-evaluating the Middle East; in the Middle East, America is being reassessed because of the events in Iran. In his opinion, the new pan-Islamic wave makes it easy for Israeli public relations. It is impossible to ignore the aggravation of the oil question following events in Iran; Egypt will understand this and a technical-legal solution can be found.

74. A. Summary of a telephone conversation between Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan and Prime Minister Menachem Begin, 10 January 1979

Israel State Archives, MFA/6914/3

Dayan tried to persuade Begin to go to Washington to resolve the controversial issues in the treaty.

74. Record of a conversation between Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan, and Deputy Secretary Alfred (Roy) Atherton; Jerusalem, 23 January 1979 (in English)

Israel State Archives, A/4174/8

Atherton summarizes the talks conducted by his team with a team of Israeli jurists to try to find a solution to the problem of the Egyptian-American interpretation of Articles IV and VI in the treaty. They drafted a letter to be sent by Vance to Dayan to clarify the problem of Article VI (5) and define which cases would be considered “aggression” by Israel in which Egypt would be allowed to act against it. This formulation has not yet been approved , but Atherton decided to go to Egypt to report on the talks. Begin again presented Israel’s position and the governmen decision on changes in Article IV. Israel will not agree to any interpretative comments on Article VI (2).

74A. Appendix: Bureau of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jerusalem to Israel’s Missions Abroad, 26 January 1979

Israel State Archives, A/ 4174/8

A Hebrew summary of the Atherton talks.

 

Part 4. Carter intervenes: Talks with Begin, a last minute visit to the Middle East and the signing of the treaty

The negotiations resume, February – early March 1979

75. Meeting of Deputy Directors General (Saudi Arabia), Jerusalem, 5 February 1979

Israel State Archives, HZ 6914/5

Dayan’s consultation with senior staff and the experts of the Centre for Research and Policy Planning on Saudi Arabia’s situation after the revolution in Iran. According to David Afek, Saudi Arabia is a rich country with a weak army, that believes that it must preserve “Arab solidarity” rather than side with one Arab camp. After Sadat’s initiative, the Saudis were waiting for him to return to this solidarity. But at Camp David he agreed to a separate peace, again without consulting them and contrary to promises he made, and the Saudi response was consistent. The Saudis took part in the Baghdad conference out of considerations of national security, against the backdrop of weakening in the West’s position in Africa and Yemen and subversion by Iraq and Libya in the Gulf states. At first Prince Fahd attacked Camp David, but not the political process. Sadat did not understand this, and his attacks on Fahd exacerbated the rift between him and the Saudis. However Saudi Arabia would not endanger its ties with the US. There were harsh expressions of disappointment with the US in the Saudi press: “Anyone who speaks (like Brzezinski) about the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem-Riyadh-Cairo axis does not know what he’s talking about.” A discussion ensued about Saudi Arabia’s image in the US. Pinchas Eliav, deputy director of the Centre, claimed that the American hardening on the Palestinian issue stems from Saudi “preaching”. Dayan argued that Saudi Arabia was important because of its influence on Egypt and not because of its influence in the US. America should not be pressed to choose between relations with Israel and with the Arab states. If it abandons the Arabs, the Soviet Union will take over.

76. US President Jimmy Carter, Washington, to Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Jerusalem; 6 February 1978 (in English)

Israel State Archives, A/4348/6

Time is running out and, due to developments in Iran, stability in the Middle East is in danger. The greatest contribution to strengthening it would be successful conclusion of a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. Despite the difficulties, he believes it is possible to reach agreement. The difficulties are interrelated and must be dealt with together. He is prepared to take part in another summit, but conditions are not yet ripe. Proposes renewing the negotiations at the ministerial level at Camp David, with the participation of Khalil, Dayan and Vance.

77. Ephraim Evron, Israel Ambassador in Washington, to Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan, Jerusalem; 11 February 1979

Israel State Archives, A/4174/8

On the eve of the second conference at Camp David, Evron gives his impressions of the Administration’s positions and goals. The hope that Egypt could fill the vacuum created by the Shah’s downfall reinforces the administration’s determination to bring about a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. Israel can take advantage of the situation, in view of the approaching primaries and presidential elections. The president needs a success on the foreign affairs front, but if he fails he will blame Israel. He fears that the government wishes to back out of its autonomy plan, due to opposition in Israel. In Evron’s opinion, “While standing firm on issues vital to our security and future, we must make every effort to achieve an agreement as soon as possible. Signing the agreement will establish and expand the American people’s support of Israel, unite the Jewish community around us and substantially change our position on the international stage”.

78. Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan, Camp David, to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jerusalem – for Prime Minister Menachem Begin Only; 21 February 1979

Israel State Archives, MFA/6915/2

A report on his private meeting with Secretary Vance on the eve of talks with the Egyptians at Camp David. Dayan explained to Vance that, unlike Khalil, he was not authorized to conclude the agreement, but only to listen and transmit the issues under discussion to the government. The two discussed whether a summit meeting could take place immediately following the talks; whether a revolution could also happen in Egypt and the influence of events in Iran on the Middle East in general and the peace negotiations in particular. The discussions at Camp David would focus on the issues in dispute – the supply of oil, autonomy, an early Israeli withdrawal, exchange of ambassadors etc.

79. Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan, Camp David, to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jerusalem – for Prime Minister Menachem Begin Only; 21 February 1979

Israel State Archives, MFA/6915/2

A report on the first meeting of the three heads of delegations at Camp David – Vance, Dayan and Khalil – without their aides. There is great fear caused by events in Iran and the danger of the spread of the Islamic revolution. Khalil warns of a wave  sweeping over the entire Middle East. Therefore a separate peace with Israel is unthinkable and the Palestinian issue must be resolved first. The meeting was conducted in a tense atmosphere, marked by mutual distrust. Khalil claimed that because Dayan did not have authority, perhaps the talks were pointless. Dayan replied that although he did not have authority to make decisions, he could make recommendations, “and if this is a waste of time I can return home, and there are flights every day”. He rejected Khalil’s claims that Israel did not want peace. Arguments over applying autonomy in ‘Gaza first’,   the representation of the Palestinians and Egypt’s commitment on oil supply. Khalil clarified that Sadat would not come for discussions but only to give his blessing at the  conclusion.

80. Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan, Camp David, to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jerusalem – for Prime Minister Menachem Begin Only; 25 February 1979

Israel State Archives, MFA/6915/2

Dayan’s report on the meeting of Vance, Dayan and Khalil with President Carter to conclude the Camp David talks. Carter repeated that it was vital to reach an agreement in view of developments in the Middle East. In reply to his questions substantive differences were revealed between Dayan and Khalil. The Egyptian prime minister claimed that progress had been made and they must hurry to make peace, “but Egypt cannot, under any circumstances, be isolated from the rest of the Arab countries”. Dayan claimed that from Israel’s point of view no progress had been made, and regression had even occurred on issues such as normalization of relations and the link between the peace agreement and autonomy.

81. Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Washington, to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jerusalem – for Deputy Prime Minister Yigael Yadin , Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan and Defence Minister Ezer Weizman Only; 2 March 1979

Israel State Archives, MFA/4314/6

A report on the prime minister’s meeting with President Carter, which “was conducted in a most cordial atmosphere”.  Begin said that what was happening in Iran could also occur in Egypt, which suffers from terrible poverty and social instability. The only stable element in the region is Israel, and therefore it should be strengthened with a generous supply of arms. Israel was prepared to pay a high price for peace with Egypt. Now demands are being made which, if fulfilled, will render peace worthless. Begin explained Israel’s difficulties with the Egyptian proposals on the link between the treaty and an overall settlement, its demand that the peace treaty take priority over any other agreement and the exchange of ambassadors within the framework of the normalization of relations. If these matters are not phrased correctly, Egypt can cancel the treaty and join a war against Israel. They decided to continue the search for a resolution of the issues.

82. Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Washington, to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jerusalem – for Deputy Prime Minister Yigael Yadin, Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan and Defence Minister Ezer Weizman Only; 4 March 1979

Israel State Archives, A/4314/6

A report on his private talk with the president on 3rd March. Carter admitted that in fact, the discussions had reached a dead end. He asked Begin how to continue from here. Begin claimed that this was the result of an American mistake, in giving Egypt the impression that they supported their position. Carter claimed that the cause was problematic statements by Israeli ministers on the peace agreement. He raised the possibility of a treaty between the US and Israel and, in fact, made the supply of arms that Begin requested dependent on achieving a peace agreement. The two leaders agreed not to announce that they had reached “the end of the road”; they would consider matters for several weeks.

Now or never: US President Jimmy Carter’s visit to Egypt and the talks in Israel, March 1979

83. Meeting of Deputy Directors-General of the Foreign Ministry in Preparation for President Carter’s Visit; Jerusalem, 7 March 1979

Israel State Archives, MFA/6915/4

In Dayan’s view, the visit is not a gamble, but a political necessity. Carter’s main aim is to stabilize the Middle East after the fall of the Shah’s regime and to formalize Egypt’s ties with the US. An Israeli-Egyptian agreement is not essential but would be very helpful. Dayan emphasizes the importance of the bilateral agreement with the US, to be signed alongside the treaty with Egypt.

84. Centre for Research and Policy Planning, Jerusalem, to the Israel Embassy in Washington and the Israel Consulate in New York; 7 March 1979

Israel State Archives, A/4174/12

According to reports from the news agencies in Cairo, after Sadat’s meeting with Khalil and Vice-President Mubarak, Khalil stated that the American proposals were positive, and should be studied in depth. He expressed optimism about signing the peace agreement, if Israel shows more understanding of the situation and the need for a comprehensive settlement.

85. Meeting between Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan and US Secretary of State Cyrus Vance; Jerusalem, 11 March 1979

Israel State Archives, MFA/6868/7

Vance gave Dayan a copy of the proposed Memorandum of Understanding between Israel and the US and showed him the latest draft of the joint letter on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Dayan commented that if Israel accepted the concept of “Gaza first”, this should be the end of Egypt’s role in establishing the autonomy. The Memorandum of Understanding must ensure that the commitments the US had made to Israel in 1975 would remain in effect. Dayan reassured Vance about the Knesset debate on the peace treaty.

86. Meeting between US President Jimmy Carter and his Delegation and Prime Minister Menachem Begin and his Delegation; Jerusalem, 11 March 1979, at 11:30 a.m. (in English)

Israel State Archives, MFA/6868/7

Carter reports on his talks with Sadat. Egypt’s request to change the word “derogate” in Article VI of the peace treaty. Discussion of the joint letter and Egypt’s proposal to establish autonomy in Gaza first, and to send liason officers to Gaza. Israel opposes this plan which does not appear in the Camp David Accords.

87. Meeting between US President Jimmy Carter and his Delegation and the Plenum of the Israeli Government; Jerusalem, 12 March 1979 (in English)

Israel State Archives, MFA/6868/7

Carter’s reaction to the decisions of the government meeting accepting the latest text of Article VI and reinstating the proposal to fix earlier stages for the interim withdrawal from Sinai. Carter and Vance explain why an Egyptian presence in Gaza is proposed and why Egypt refuses to make a long term commitment to sell oil to Israel.  Carter presses Israel to be more flexible. Begin’s reply.

88. Stenographic Record of the Government Meeting; Jerusalem, 12 March 1979

Israel State Archives, A/4273/1

Begin’s reaction to the attacks on him during his speech in the Knesset and to the Egyptian demands backed by the US. His feeling that the Americans do not understand what sacrifices Israel has already made for peace. In his opinion, Egypt’s demands are a whim and in fact Israel was not conducting negotiations with the Egyptians, but rather with Carter speaking in Egypt’s name. The government’s opposition to further concessions, especially on the issues of Gaza and the oil supply. Modai: “This is not negotiation, it is a war of attrition”. Some ministers propose flexibility on oil. Nevertheless the government reaffirms the decisions of the previous night.

89Meeting of Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and his Delegation with Prime Minister Menachem Begin and his Delegation, Jerusalem; 12 March 1979 (in English)

Israel State Archives, MFA/6868/7

Begin presents the decisions of the government meeting. In order to reassure Israel about Egypt’s intentions in Gaza, Brzezinski proposes not to refer to “liason officers” and to find different language. The ministers reject these efforts. Vance proposes to exclude from the peace treaty both subjects not mentioned in the Camp David Accords – oil and the Egyptian presence in Gaza first. The Israeli delegation insists that oil must be included.

Last minute solution and the signing of the treaty on 26 March 1979

90. US President Jimmy Carter, Cairo, to Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Jerusalem; 13 March 1979 (in English)

Israel State Archives, A/4348/6

Letter from US Ambassador Samuel Lewis, enclosing a letter from Carter to Begin. The president’s talks in Cairo were successful and the peace treaty is on the verge of completion. Sadat has agreed to the understandings reached in Jerusalem, including the text of the joint letter without mention of Gaza or liason officers. If the government of Israel reverts to the proposal of sub-stages in the withdrawal from Sinai, Sadat will commit to exchanging ambassadors one month after the first stage of the withdrawal. He also accepted the agreed note on oil, and proposed building a pipeline from Eilat to the oilfield. Carter again praises Begin’s leadership and expects to see him in Washington.

91. Telephone Conversation between Prime Minister Menachem Begin and US President Jimmy Carter; 14 March 1979 (in English)

Begin tells the president that the government has approved the understandings with the US and Egypt. He proposes that Weizmann go to Washington for talks with the Egyptians on the phases of withdrawal and with the US on the bilateral agreement. Begin himself will arrive after the Knesset debate. He expects to have a large majority. Carter congratulates him on their success

92. Zvi Rafiah, Counsellor at the Israel Embassy in Washington, to the North American Division, Jerusalem; 15 March 1979

Israel State Archives, A/4174/13

On his return to Washington Carter gave a briefing to the leaders of both houses of Congress. He praised Sadat, Begin and Dayan but noted that the differences in approach between Sadat and Begin caused problems. Sadat needed an agreement urgently. Egypt needs massive US aid for its infrastructure as well as military aid. Israel will also receive a large sum.

93. Joseph Ciechanover, Director-General of the Foreign Ministry, Jerusalem to Israel’s Missions Abroad; 16 March 1979Israel State Archives, A/4174/13

The final stages of negotiations with Egypt and Israel’s achievements, including the exchange of ambassadors, commitments on oil etc.; establishment of the autonomy; the request for Israeli gestures of good will towards the Palestinians; a summary of agreements with the US.

94. Attorney-General Yitzhak Zamir, Jerusalem, to Meir Rosenne, Legal Adviser of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Washington; 24 March 1979

Israel State Archives, A/4174/16

Proposals to solve a number of phrasing issues in the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt.

95. Telephone Conversation between Prime Minister Menachem Begin and President Anwar Sadat; Washington, 25 March 1979 (in English)

Israel State Archives, A/4350/9

Begin reports that the Israel delegation has approved the arrangements settled between them on the date of beginning the supply of oil to Israel and of the withdrawal from El Arish.

96. Meeting of the Israeli Delegation Headed by Prime Minister Menachem Begin with the American Delegation Headed by Secretary of State Cyrus Vance; Washington, 25 March 1979

Israel State Archives, MFA/6915/6

Begin reported on his talk with Sadat and on the conclusions the two leaders had reached on the date of beginning the oil supply to Israel and of the withdrawal from El Arish. Vance promised that Carter would agree that Sadat would make a declaration in his presence, on three more points Israel had requested on the issue of oil.

97. Exchange of Telegrams between Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Washington and Minister of Agriculture Ariel Sharon, Jerusalem; 25 – 26 March 1979

Israel State Archives, MFA/6915/6

Sharon proposes to postpone the removal of the headquarters of the military government from the city of Gaza as agreed in the peace agreement with Egypt, until after the conclusion of negotiations on the establishment of autonomy. Begin replies that it is impossible to take out the clause, but the phrasing would allow them to postpone the actual transfer.

98. Ephraim Evron, Washington, to Joseph Ciechanover, Director-General of the Foreign Ministry, Jerusalem: Meeting between US President Jimmy Carter and Prime Minister Menachem Begin; Washington, 26 March 1979

Israel State Archives, A/4174/16

Also participating were Vance, Brzezinski and Dayan. Sums up the final understandings between Israel and Egypt.  Preliminary ideas on negotiations on autonomy. Begin threatened to resign rather than change the text of the footnote on Judea and Samaria which was presented to the Knesset. A compromise was found. Carter reported on Sadat’s comment that following his meeting with Begin “he now feels that in the future he will be able to approach the prime minister directly during a crisis, and find an appropriate arrangement “. Carter comments that “today is an historic day” that was achieved thanks to Begin and Sadat.  A discussion of the differences of opinion between Israel and the Americans on the issues of the settlements and the status of Jerusalem.