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2. Memorandum of Conversation1

PARTICIPANTS

  • General Moshe Dayan
  • Simcha Dinitz, Ambassador of Israel
  • Zbigniew Brzezinski, National Security Affairs Adviser
  • William B. Quandt, NSC Staff

General Dayan congratulated Dr. Brzezinski on his appointment as National Security Affairs Adviser to the President. He stated that expectations were high that the new Administration would provide leadership. He then asked if the US had formulated its ideas on how to achieve peace in the Middle East. Dr. Brzezinski replied that he thought we would have a better idea after Secretary Vance’s trip to the area. It did seem to him that there was an opportunity to make progress.

Dayan expressed the view that all of the countries in the area were more forthcoming now, but that one move cannot solve the problem. The problem is to bridge the large gap between what the Arabs want and what Israel wants. He did not feel that Israeli domestic politics would have much effect on the diplomatic process. The next government will not follow a very different policy. Israel will continue to offer some withdrawal in return for real peace.

Dr. Brzezinski asked him what lines he had in mind in a peace settlement. Dayan described a line from Sharm al-Shaykh to al-Arish as a possibility, with a buffer zone in between the forces. He admitted that his views concerning Golan were ambivalent. But on the West Bank he was certain that any attempt to divide the area, such as the Allon Plan,2 would be worse than an effort to get Arabs and Israelis to live together in the area.

In Dayan’s view, Israel need not formally annex Golan or Sharm al-Shaykh. He is not referring to final borders because he cannot now envisage a final peace. Israel in any case will not agree to remove all of its settlements in areas beyond the 1967 lines even for peace. Syria, he felt, would never make peace if Israel kept parts of Golan. Jordan, however, might accept Israeli settlements within their territory, at least on an interim basis. But peace is far off. Only an end to the state of war is [Page 4]now possible. Perhaps something could be done for the Arab refugees nonetheless.

Dayan stated that he takes the Arabs seriously when they say they are prepared to sign peace treaties with Israel. But Israel is not willing to pay the price that they are asking for peace. If he had to choose between Sharm al-Shaykh and peace, he would choose Sharm. Maybe after ten more years Israel can leave Sharm, but not before. He acknowledged that this placed Israel in an awkward position with respect to world and even US opinion.

Discussing the contingency of reaching agreement first on the shape of peace, then implementing it over a long period, Dayan asked how willing the US would be to guarantee such an agreement. He recalled the 1967 crisis as an example of how difficult it could be for the US to live up to its commitments.

Returning to the discussion of territory, Dayan emphasized that the only issue at Sharm al-Shaykh and on Golan was security. (He later added the settlements now on Golan.) But the West Bank is different. There non-security issues count. Israel has every right to be there. Any division of the area is unacceptable. Perhaps in ten or twenty years a formula for coexistence can be found. A West Bank-Gaza state is not a solution. On Golan, Dayan again stressed that he had opposed taking the Heights, but was now reluctant to abandon the settlements there.

In Dayan’s view, if Israel were offered peace tied to full withdrawal, he would oppose peace. All that is now possible is non-belligerency and some further withdrawal in Sinai. Perhaps some arrangement could also be worked out with Jordan.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Middle East File, Chron File, Box 130, Quandt: 1/77. Secret. The meeting took place in Brzezinski’s office.
  2. The Allon Plan was conceived in July 1967 by Israeli Foreign Minister Yigal Allon. It called for a partition of the occupied territory between Israel and Jordan. Israel would maintain a row of fortified settlements along the Jordan River to provide a security buffer from future Arab attack while leaving the rest of the West Bank demilitarized.