206. Telegram From Secretary of State Vance to Various Diplomatic Posts1

Secto 1074. Jerusalem for Atherton. Subject: Status and Prospects for Peace Negotiations. Ref: Secto 1045.2

1. Following is a report on the Secretary’s Thursday meetings in Jerusalem following Egyptian departure, meeting with Sadat on Friday, [Page 976] together with assessment of status, prospects and next steps in negotiation process. You may draw on it as appropriate for briefing high levels of host governments.

2. Following departure of Egyptian delegation Wednesday evening, Secretary met Thursday with Begin and Dayan.3 They made some further progress in refining language of declaration of principles and narrowing differences on crucial Palestinian aspects of declaration, and of course none of the drafting done in Jerusalem has formal approval of either government.

3. In Cairo on Friday, Sadat explained his cumulative disillusionment with Israeli approach to negotiation and with Israeli public statements of preceding several days.4 Sadat was especially concerned by Israeli continued insistence on retaining settlements under Israeli protection in occupied territory because he feels they put in question whether Israel’s offer to return the Sinai to Egyptian sovereignty is genuine. He repeatedly declared, “They cannot tread on other people’s land and sovereignty.” He made clear his purpose is still comprehensive peace agreement. He is prepared to continue working for a declaration which will get Israeli adherence to principles that would permit broadening of peace negotiations. We explained progress made Wednesday and Thursday with Begin and Dayan on draft declaration. Sadat agrees there should be a rhetorical cooling-off period, although he feels need to set record straight as he sees it in speech to National Assembly. He is ready to go forward with Security Committee meeting, and we are urging Israel to continue with the work of that Committee. He has reiterated that door is still open for peace.

4. Our assessment is that, while recent high level of harsh rhetoric and interruption of Jerusalem talks are unfortunate, damage is not irreparable. We believe progress can be achieved in further narrowing gaps on declaration language and that Military Committee could be useful in getting parties back into constructive negotiating atmosphere. Atherton returning to Jerusalem and will remain in area to act as appropriate in helping to keep peace process going.

5. We urge that everyone avoid further aggravating situation and avoid likewise premature judgment on results of this phase of negotiations. We will continue to work toward broader negotiations and toward comprehensive settlement.

6. FYI. There are no repeat no plans for Presidential level summit, contrary to press reports, nor specific plans for a return visit by Secretary at this time. End FYI.

[Page 977]

7. For Ambassadors West and Pickering only: You may tell Fahd and Hussein more specifically that Sadat did express encouragement at progress made on draft declaration in Jerusalem and, while he still wanted to talk further with his advisors, he is prepared to discuss with us concrete ways for building on work already done so as to regain momentum. We have agreed that whatever is to be done next, it should be done through quiet diplomacy at first. That is the real reason Atherton is staying in the area, but we do not want to call attention to his activities.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780032–1143. Secret; Immediate; Exdis. Sent immediate to Amman, Tehran, Abu Dhabi, Belgrade, Bucharest, Bonn, Kuwait, Khartoum, London, Muscat, Paris, Rabat, Rome, Sanaa, Manama, Tunis, and the Mission to NATO. Sent immediate for information to the Department of State, Cairo, Tel Aviv, Damascus, Beirut, Jerusalem, Algiers, and Moscow. Sent niact immediate to Jidda. The telegram was sent from the Secretary’s aircraft.
  2. Document 200.
  3. Thursday was January 19. See Documents 200 and 203.
  4. See Documents 204 and 205.