201. Telegram From Secretary of State Vance’s Delegation to the Department of State1

Secto 1048. Subject: Jerusalem Political Committee—The Second Day (January 18).

1. Before unexpected announcement of recall of Egyptian delegation, Secretary had a full day of detailed, intensive talks with Israeli and Egyptian Foreign Ministers on the draft declaration of principles,2 during which progress was made and differences were resolved or narrowed on all issues except Palestinian problem. Secretary met with Dayan for working breakfast3 and gave Dayan the draft statement that we had worked out afternoon January 17 (text transmitted Secto 1019)4 following study of Israeli and Egyptian drafts (texts transmitted Secto 1042).5 He then met with Kamel and aides for over an hour beginning at 1130, and again with Dayan briefly before the formal Political Committee meeting at 3 p.m. After that Secretary again had lengthy sepa[Page 960]rate sessions with Kamel and Dayan and their aides, end result of which was draft which we have sent by septel (Secto 1042).

2. Formal Political Committee meeting lasted only about 15 minutes. Because private talks with Dayan and Kamel on the draft declaration were still going on, Secretary did not table U.S. draft contained Secto 1019. Dayan opened the Political Committee meeting with remark that he believed some progress had been made in private talks that morning. Dayan then asked if parties wished to proceed with discussion of draft declaration of principles around the Political Committee table or continue to work in private sessions as during the morning. Kamel said he preferred private sessions, and after Dayan assented, Secretary agreed too. Dayan then suggested informal talks between members of Egyptian and Israeli delegations on elements of peace treaties, under item 3 of agenda, with participation of representatives from the U.S. delegation. Kamel said Egyptians preferred to continue discussions of declaration of principles “and if we reach something then we can proceed to the other items.” Dayan then proposed that Political Committee reconvene at 11 a.m. next day, January 19, and Kamel and Secretary agreed. Meeting closed with brief discussion of what parties should tell the press. Dayan suggested saying, “we have made some progress” on draft declaration and that informal consultations would continue. Kamel said he didn’t know if reference should be made yet to progress; that could be done after January 19 meeting if there were progress by then. For the moment Kamel preferred to say that “continuing the informal talks is useful and necessary.”

5. While the Political Committee meeting itself was a pro forma affair, in their separate meetings with Secretary the Egyptians and Israelis made a genuine effort to bridge differences and come up with mutually acceptable language. It was evident that both sides were negotiating seriously, wanted to reach agreement and were willing to make concessions to that end, of course within what they knew to be limits imposed by their governments’ policies. Dayan led the effort on the Israeli side, with Attorney General Barak (who came to the final meeting directly from a session with Begin on the declaration of principles) joining in. (Rosenne was present and intervened frequently but most of the time was either overridden or ignored by Dayan.) For the Egyptians, Kamel left most of the talking to Abdel Meguid, apparently in deference to latter’s expertise; Al Baz and Boutros Ghali also joined in.

6. In afternoon session with Egyptians, Secretary said that when we spoke of “legitimate rights” of the Palestinians, as in Aswan statement, we mean human rights. Secretary said for us the term human rights comprises political, civil and economic rights. Egyptians asked if [Page 961] this meant “national rights”; Secretary replied that we had always refused to use that term since it prejudges the outcome. Secretary reiterated our preference that there not be an independent Palestinian state; Abdel Meguid replied that we are on common ground on this. Egyptians confirmed that they were ready to forego use of the word “national” and use only phrase “legitimate rights” in the paragraph on the Palestinian problem. In this connection, Boutros Ghali ponted out that the Egyptian side had already made numerous and important concessions in its effort to reach agreement. Egyptians had given up use of the word “national” and were not asking for use of word “self-determination.” Moreover, they were not asking that the declaration include mention of compensation and return for the refugees. Secretary later made this point to Israelis.

7. Draft transmitted Secto 1042 was the fifth of the day and was drawn up in meeting with Israeli delegation which ended about 6 p.m., which followed meeting with Egyptians which lasted from 3:15 to about 4:30. First para was taken from earlier draft and was agreed by both Egyptians and Israelis. Re second para, in the earlier draft agreed by Egyptians it had closed with the words “Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 in all their parts.” Egyptians insisted on phrase “in all their parts” (or Resolution 242 “in all its parts”) but Israelis objected to this. Therefore, in meeting with Israelis this para was reworded to speak of “peace treaties in fulfillment of all the principles of United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 . . .” as possible compromise which Israelis could accept (there was no opportunity to try this language out on the Egyptians). Dayan in serious effort to meet Egyptian concerns while limiting discussion of Palestinian question to Palestinians in West Bank and Gaza, suggested adding at the end of para two the phrase “and to achieve a just solution of the Palestinian problem.” Dayan made clear that he did not know if Begin would buy this, and with a chuckle added he wasn’t even sure for himself.

8. Re para three, the Egyptians agreed to the proposed language on withdrawal and secure and recognized boundaries but wanted to separate the two. They, therefore, asked that second sentence, on secure and recognized boundaries, be split off and made a separate para. This reflects Egyptian view that present boundaries are secure and recognized and that withdrawal should not repeat not affect them. They at first asked that this separate para be put after the para on the Palestinian problem, i.e. that it be separated by another para from the para on withdrawal. However, they acceded to Secretary’s request that if the two principles must be split into separate paras they at least be kept next to each other. When this was discussed with Israelis in immediately following session, Israelis expressed strong preference that the two be joined, although Dayan indicated that if other points could be resolved [Page 962] the negotiations would not come to an impasse over this point. Thus in text Secto 1042, para three reflects Israeli position and bracketed para four the Egyptian position.

9. Para six of text Secto 1042 was taken from draft previously agreed by Egyptians and therefore has approval of both parties.

10. The para on the Palestinian problem was as expected the main sticking point, and this is reflected in fact that it was not possible to do a single draft on this para even with use of brackets. 5 (A) reflects Israeli position and 5 (B) Egyptian position. Israelis had two major problems with Egyptian para. First was use of term “legitimate rights” which Dayan said Begin would never agree to. Second was fact that language of this para would open way for all Palestinians, wherever they live, to participate in the determination of their own future. Dayan said Israel could not accept this. Provision for participation in “determination of their own future” must be restricted to West Bankers and Gazans; Israel could not be expected to work with Palestinians in Lebanon, Syria, the Gulf or elsewhere. Israeli objections were, of course, the reverse reflection of what Egyptians felt they must have, though there may be some give in Egyptian position. In his meetings with the two sides the Secretary did some probing of positions on Palestinian issue and was getting more involved during last meeting with Israelis but bulk of time was taken up in working out agreement on other paras. Had talks continued as planned, we would have gotten more deeply into this in talks January 19.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P850036–2366. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Sent immediate for information to Cairo.
  2. See Document 200.
  3. No memorandum of conversation has been found.
  4. See Document 196.
  5. See Document 199.