3. Minutes of a Policy Review Committee Meeting1


  • Middle East


  • The Vice President
  • A. Denis Clift
  • State:
  • Secretary Cyrus Vance
  • Alfred Atherton
  • Defense:
  • Secretary Harold Brown
  • Charles W. Duncan
  • Leslie A. Janka
  • Treasury:
  • Secretary Michael Blumenthal
  • Jerry Newman
  • Commerce:
  • Secretary Juanita Kreps
  • Charles L. Haslan
  • OMB:
  • Bert Lance
  • Ed Sanders
  • CIA:
  • Enno Knoche
  • David Blee
  • JCS:
  • Gen. George S. Brown
  • Lt. Gen. William Smith
  • NSC:
  • Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski
  • David Aaron
  • William Quandt
  • Jeanne W. Davis


Aid to Israel

It was the consensus of the group that, on strictly military and assistance grounds, Option 12—no increase over the Ford budget of $1.5 billion assistance to Israel—would be justified. However, out of a desire to achieve a favorable political atmosphere for Secretary Vance’s trip to the Middle East, we propose to explain to Ambassador Dinitz that, while we believe that $1.5 billion ($1 billion FMS, $500 million SSA) is adequate, we will ask for an increase of $285 million in FMS in the FY 78 budget to bring the total up to the FY 77 level. One billion would therefore be FMS and $785 million SSA. Ambassador Dinitz will be told that we will expect Israeli support for this position and will be made to understand that the lack of such support could lead to a fall[Page 6]back to the $1.5 billion figure rather than to any increase over $1.785 billion.

It was agreed that we should try to conclude our consultations with the Israelis on aid levels prior to Secretary Vance’s trip and that OMB should attempt to delay the budget submission from February 18 to February 21.3

Anti-Boycott Legislation

On anti-boycott legislation,4 it was agreed that the Commerce and Treasury Departments would consult with key members of Congress to see if some adjustments to the implementing regulations for both the Tax Reform and the Export Control Acts5 might be sufficient to meet Congressional concerns and thereby avoid new anti-boycott legislation.6

If these consultations indicated a firm Congressional intent to proceed with new legislation, it was agreed that we should seek some changes in the “compromise bill” to modify its more troublesome aspects. At the same time, we should explore with the Arabs possible changes of their boycott enforcement practices to ease the burden on American firms. Secretary Vance might raise this during his trip to Saudi Arabia.7

Peace Negotiations

On the issue of peace negotiations, there was consensus on the urgency of an American initiative. It was agreed that Secretary Vance’s trip should include discussions of substance as well as procedure, with the following general objectives:

  • —to seek to reach agreement on broad principles of a settlement first, followed by a staged process of implementation of specific agreements.
  • —to obtain a more explicit Arab definition of “peace.”
  • —to separate the question of secure defense lines from that of final recognized borders.

[Page 7]

It was suggested and generally agreed that some form of pre-Geneva round of discussions would be desirable to clarify the long-term objectives of the parties and to get from them more precision as to their positions. It was also agreed that the Soviets should be kept informed of the progress of our conversations with the parties, but should not be involved in the substance of negotiations at this stage.8

(The meeting began in the absence of Secretary Kreps and OMB Director Vance)

Secretary Vance: Let’s start with the security assistance item. We have four options:

  • 1) $1.5 billion: $1 billion FMS and $500 million SSA (no increase over the Ford budget)
  • 2) $1.785 billion: $1 billion FMS and $785 million SSA (increase of $285 million economic assistance over Ford budget)
  • 3) $1.75 billion: $1.25 billion FMS and $500 million SSA (increase of $250 million in FMS over Ford budget for Israel with proportionate increases in the Arab aid level totalling $70 million)
  • 4) $2.285 billion: $1.5 billion FMS and $785 million SSA (increase of $500 million FMS and $285 million economic assistance over Ford budget for Israel and $163 million in SSA for the Arab states)

Let’s go around the table for your views.

Secretary Brown: In my view, Options 3 and 4 don’t make sense. That’s a path along which we don’t want to go. Adding to our military sales wouldn’t be credible on the Hill. It’s your judgement, of course, but I think you would be savaged. The real options are 1 and 2.

Secretary Vance: I agree.

Secretary Brown: It’s a matter of tactics. Option 1 is enough with regard to the military situation. Our estimate is that the Israelis can handle the situation with what they have until 1981. On non-political grounds Option 1 makes sense. However, if we start with Option 1, we might find ourselves with Options 3 or 4 once the Congress gets through with it. Option 1 allows you more negotiating room if you have to sweeten the pot for the Israelis in order to get them to do some things later on. Whether it is Option 1 or 2 depends on the domestic as well as the negotiating situation.

Dr. Brzezinski: I agree Option 1 makes the most sense, but Option 2 may be justified by the political situation plus other elements.

(OMB Director Lance arrived)

Mr. Knoche: It is our view that Israel has never been stronger militarily since 1973. Their margin is steadily growing as a result of the [Page 8] cut-off of spare parts to the Arabs by the Soviet Union and the situation in Lebanon.9

Secretary Vance: Harold (Brown) says Option 1 from a military requirements standpoint but that the political aspects may drive us toward Option 2.

Gen. Brown: They can’t justify any more money.

Secretary Brown: The difference between 1 and 2 is in economic assistance, but they can move the money around.

Secretary Blumenthal: If we pick Option 2, have there been any soundings on the Hill to see what the reaction would be?

Secretary Vance: They will stand still for Option 2 but not for 1. The funding must be at least at last year’s level.

Secretary Blumenthal: So you would start with Option 1 or 2 in hopes of containing the Congress?

Secretary Vance: They would probably be satisfied with Option 2. From the international standpoint, if I can go the the Middle East with Option 2 it will be a plus with the Israelis and probably satisfactory to the Arabs. That puts the issue out of the way. I feel strongly Option 2 is the way to go. Roy?

Mr. Atherton: I favor Option 2 because it is not a change in signals. Any other course would be seen as a change in signals and would be disturbing.

(Secretary Kreps arrived)

Secretary Vance: Fritz? (Vice President Mondale)

Vice President Mondale: If we can get Option 2, based on some prior agreement with (Israel Ambassador) Dinitz, okay. But we’ve got to convince the Israelis that the fights on the Hill don’t help them. We don’t want the Israelis to get the idea that Option 2 is just where they start. We don’t want the $1.785 billion to be the beginning of a floor fight. If the Israelis say they want more and there is a floor fight, chances are that they will get more.

Mr. Lance: We would go for Option 1, of course, strictly from the funding standpoint, but we understand that there is a need to resolve the issue if it is not to have an adverse impact on Secretary Vance’s trip. We can go along with Option 2 and have it settled.

[Page 9]

Secretary Vance: We may have to turn the Israelis down on their desire to sell the Kfir aircraft to Ecuador.10 If we hit them on that, then hold them to the $1.5 billion, we will have immense problems. They will suffer a loss of about $300 million in foreign exchange.

Secretary Blumenthal: Where did the additional $285 million figure come from? Is there anything in between?

Secretary Brown: It is essentially a shift from military sales to economic assistance. $1.785 billion was last year’s total.

Secretary Blumenthal: So it’s the same as last year?

Secretary Vance: Yes.

Mr. Atherton: Congress actually appropriated a little less, but the figure is consistent with last year’s.

Gen. Brown: We also have the XF–17 co-production problem.11

Secretary Brown: I have two questions about Option 1. If Dinitz agrees, can we count on him? Can the Israelis control their supporters in the Congress?

Vice President Mondale: Absolutely not. No, that’s too bald. If the Israeli Government is satisfied with Option 2 we can use that dramatically on the Hill. But we can’t possibly do it if we begin at a higher figure.

Secretary Brown: We have to have them lined up long before the bill goes up.

Secretary Vance: I agree.

Secretary Brown: During the actual Middle East negotiations, you may have to offer some additional sweeteners—a security guarantee, additional assistance, etc. Would that be sufficiently distant so that we are sure we’re talking about FY 1979? We might wind up with more in FY 1978.

Secretary Vance: We will make no change unless it is part of the negotiations.

Secretary Brown: Then the balance among the options would be different.

Mr. Knoche: We believe that Option 2 would not inflame the Arabs, but Option 3 would.

[Page 10]

Dr. Brzezinski: It might help for Dinitz to know that the consensus was for Option 1 but that, for reasons of the negotiations, we agreed to Option 2. Otherwise, he might interpret it as a starting point.

Secretary Vance: The Israelis have indicated to Roy (Atherton) that Option 2 would be acceptable with some change in the mix.

Secretary Brown: That’s cosmetic. They can move the money around.

Mr. Knoche: It’s the question of moving more to FMS that troubles the Arabs.

Secretary Brown: The Israelis can move internally.

Secretary Vance: So the consensus is that, apart from the political and the domestic considerations, we would favor Option 1. However, with all things taken together, we favor Option 2, provided the Israelis will not ask for more.

Dr. Brzezinski: “Provided” is too strong. We should indicate that we are willing to adjust our position to Option 2 in order to create a favorable atmosphere for your trip and for the negotiations, and we expect their support.

Secretary Vance: “Provided” means that they won’t lobby against us.

Secretary Brown: We should make it clear that if they don’t accept Option 2, we will move back to Option 1, not ahead to Option 3.

Secretary Vance: I agree.

Mr. Lance: How should we handle this in the budget?

Secretary Vance: We won’t do anything now. I will have to talk to the President.

Mr. Lance: I understand that.

Secretary Vance: I will have a conversation with Dinitz to be sure he understands.

Secretary Brown: The budget normally goes up on the 18th?

Mr. Lance: Yes, but we can delay it to the 21st.

Secretary Vance: (to Mr. Lance) I’ll come back to you after I talk with the President and depending on the outcome of my conversation with Dinitz.

Now let’s look at the Arab boycott issue?

Dr. Brzezinski: Aren’t you going to talk about the negotiations?

Secretary Vance: The negotiations will come last. The boycott discussion begins on Page 9 of the paper, and we have five options:

  • 1) oppose any new anti-boycott legislation that goes beyond existing law or government regulation;
  • 2) pose no objection to proposed Congressional action, which would mean early hearings and passage of the “compromise” bill;
  • 3) go along with the “compromise” bill but seek to modify some of the more troublesome aspects;
  • 4) try to delay action on any new legislation until the Administration has had an opportunity better to determine the possible consequences; this period of delay could be used to seek further pragmatic modifications of boycott enforcement by the Arabs and to try to agree on a simple short-term renewal of the Export Administration Act pending further review of the situation.
  • 5) in conjunction with either Option 1 or 4, explore with the Arabs possible voluntary modification of boycott enforcement practices to ease the burden of the boycott on American firms.

Let’s go around the table.

Secretary Brown: I think opposing any new legislation is not sustainable politically and is wrong. But I see real dangers in raising no objection to the “compromise” bill. It raises real problems in our relations with the Arabs without doing the Israelis much good. My own view is that we should try to delay action if we can, while we work on Congress to see if we can change the “compromise” bill to take care of our political and economic interests with the Arabs.

Secretary Vance: You mean Option 4 coupled with 3?

Secretary Brown: Yes. It depends on your Middle East trip, of course.

Secretary Vance: Hearings are scheduled to start on February 28 before (Senator) Proxmire. I am appearing before (Congressman) Bingham’s House Committee on March 1.12 Someone will have to be prepared to say something. The rest of you will be called too.

Secretary Blumenthal: I already have been. Our soundings on the Hill indicate that the reason for the pressures for additional legislation is that Congress is disappointed with what the Administration did in the implementing regulations. They want to be sure the intent of the Congress will be served. If we could have a little time, the Executive Branch could look at the implementing regulations. If we could strengthen them in such a way that the Arabs could still live with them, this might satisfy Congress. It’s worth trying. We could tell the Arabs that we have prevented additional legislation but have tinkered with the regulations.

Secretary Vance: Secretary Kreps?

Secretary Kreps: Mr. Haslan has been following this.

[Page 12]

Mr. Haslan: It might be possible to do what Secretary Blumenthal has suggested. We can’t simply oppose new legislation. We either have to strengthen our enforcement process or the Administration must create its own bill. It might be possible to delay the immediate hearings and to put together some acceptable legislation. We would suggest a combination of Options 4 and 5, plus a request for additional time from the Congress to create an Administration bill.

Secretary Vance: I understand that when the Export Administration Act expires we have to have some legislation.

Vice President Mondale: They can always pass an extender.

Secretary Vance: I think it has expired now.

Mr. Sanders: We can operate under the Trading with the Enemy Act.13

Vice President Mondale: But you would have to declare them an enemy.

Secretary Blumenthal: Congress might be willing to live with an extension of the Act if they believed the implementing regulations would be changed.

Secretary Vance: (to Mr. Haslan) On the possibility of a new bill, did I understand that you did not think it would take long to draft a new bill?

Mr. Haslan: It could be done in a fairly short time. But taking the initiative would argue for a delay in the hearings with regard to Secretary Vance’s trip. We could show the Congress some elements of a new bill, but the Administration would have the initiative on timing and would have some control over what would go into the new legislation.

Secretary Vance: The House International Relations Committee told us that they expected that we would ask for more time in an attempt to stall, and that when we did, they would unload on us. We should, in good faith, do what we can. Blumenthal’s suggestion makes sense.

Secretary Blumenthal: The present guidelines are related to the Tax Reform Act, not the Export Act.

Vice President Mondale: It’s both—the Ribicoff amendment relates to the Tax Reform Act.

Secretary Blumenthal: I think the regulations regarding the Tax Reform Act are satisfactory.

Secretary Vance: To some, but not to (Congressmen) Rosenthal and Bingham or to (Senator) Proxmire. We should explore Mike’s (Blumenthal) suggestion.

[Page 13]

Mr. Knoche: With American policy moving toward the peace negotiations, if we made the situation clear to the Arabs, they will work with us [less than 1 line not declassified]

Dr. Brzezinski: As a matter of political reality, we may be sure that pressures for anti-boycott legislation will surface. We are morally committed; the President is on record.14 I think the best combination is Options 3 and 5. We should try to influence the substance of the bill and we should also deal with the Arabs, possibly on Cy’s (Vance) trip, to get them to adjust their enforcement. This would be less destructive and less politically difficult. The Saudis are scared but cooperative. This might satisfy the political need while meeting our moral obligations.

Secretary Vance: I agree on the combination of Options 3 and 5, but Blumenthal’s suggestion is not inconsistent with that approach.

Secretary Blumenthal: It is Option 5, plus. Let’s explore first whether a review and some tightening of our regulations would be sufficiently satisfying to the Congress so that they would not press for legislation.

Dr. Brzezinski: My political judgement is that this is so much a matter of principle that the Congress won’t back off.

Secretary Blumenthal: Our soundings indicate that they might. We have talked with (Senators) Stevenson and Ribicoff. Option 3 would be our fallback.

Dr. Brzezinski: There’s no harm trying. My guess is that we will end with a combination of 3 and 5, but that’s not a bad package.

Secretary Vance: I agree. I will talk to (Senators) Proxmire, Williams, (Congressmen) Rosenthal and Bingham. They are the strongest advocates of very tough legislation.

Dr. Brzezinski: You might also talk to Shapiro, the head of DuPont.15 He is the head of a committee on the subject.

Secretary Blumenthal: Since these are Treasury regulations, we’ll take the soundings as to Option 4. If they’re interested, fine. If not, we can go to the combination of 3 and 5.

Mr. Haslan: The Treasury regulations go only to the Ribicoff amendment. The main regulations are under Commerce Department coordination.

Secretary Blumenthal: Treasury and Commerce can make the soundings together to see what changes would satisfy the Congress, short of a new bill.

[Page 14]

Secretary Vance: Let me summarize: Commerce and Treasury will undertake some work on the Hill. Then, unless the results of their soundings indicate some modification, we will concert and recommend a course along the lines of Options 3 and 5.

Secretary Brown: Option 5 could boomerang. When you start dealing with the Arabs, they might be amenable in private, but it will be hard to keep it private. If it goes public, the Arabs would have no choice but to take an extremely intransigent position. If we think Option 5 would blow, we might be better to try Option 3 alone.

Secretary Vance: I’ll have a better feel for it after my trip.

Now let’s turn to the peace negotiations—page 18 of the paper. We see three phases of activity: 1) internal US consideration of the problem, focusing on the broad choices and objectives, preferably reaching some rough conclusions prior to my trip to the Middle East; 2) initial consultations with Middle East leaders, the Soviets, Waldheim and others, and eventually with the Congress; 3) active pursuit of whatever course of action the President has decided upon, including a comprehensive effort to obtain US public and Congressional understanding and support. Fritz (Vice President Mondale)?

Vice President Mondale: I knew it was a mistake to start this meeting without a prayer!

Secretary Blumenthal: I just don’t know enough about it.

Gen. Brown: I know there is an urgent need to get on with it.

Mr. Lance: I agree.

Mr. Knoche: We have a little intelligence background that might be helpful. The Egyptians, Syrians and Saudi Arabians all want to appear to be constructive and are pressing the PLO to adopt a moderate position. This gives the PLO problems, and they haven’t developed a position yet. If the Arabs and Palestinians can reach an accommodation, the Arabs will probably agree to go to Geneva without the PLO. We have completed a new intelligence estimate on Egypt16 which indicates that they are not likely to initiate hostilities during 1977. Sadat’s position has seriously deteriorated, however, and he needs to take some move to recoup his prestige. His ties with the West are being questioned, and his speech yesterday was very hard hitting.17 The situation in Egypt is becoming critical and Sadat’s future depends on what the US does. He [Page 15] needs to be able to demonstrate the wisdom of tying himself to Washington. There are dangers in Sadat’s own relationships with the military. Saudi Arabia is the real force behind the scenes, and they are moving toward Geneva. The Israel elections are May 17 and the situation there is fragile. They have only a limited understanding of what they want from resumed negotiations. We must resist pushing them too far, too fast. The Soviets are watching the situation carefully. They are anxious not to foreclose the possibility of their participation in Geneva where they can appear to be the Arab champion in Egypt and Syria.

Dr. Brzezinski: The options leave us with a limited choice. We have to move toward a more active role. We can’t wait. I believe the situation is more propitious than it has been in the past 23 years. But I think we need to give the Israelis and the Arabs a more substantive sense of what is required. I think we should consider the possibility of something prior to a Geneva meeting. Possibly a pre-Geneva stage in which we would try to define the ranges of agreement with the Israelis and the Arabs, without the Soviets. Then Geneva could formalize these areas of agreement.

Secretary Vance: Are you talking about a formal meeting?

Dr. Brzezinski: An informal, collective process. It could be either bilateral or collective. I see three basic issues: 1) I think we should try for a settlement first, then enter a long process of implementation. This is the opposite of the Kissinger “step-by-step” approach18 toward an indeterminate future. We should take one big step toward a determined future, then implement it by small steps. 2) We need a more explicit definition by the Arabs of what they mean by “peace”. We won’t get it at Geneva with the Soviets and the Palestinians there. 3) We need to get across the notion of separating secure defense lines from recognized borders. Israel may need secure defense lines beyond recognized frontiers. If we go to Geneva before we have some agreement on these things, the Soviets will wreck it. So Cy’s (Vance) mission is not just procedural, it is substantive as well.

Secretary Brown: I have one thing to add. There may be more urgency for formal action before September. The Vance trip recognizes that. We can’t say when we might get to formal action, but Dr. Brzezinski’s intermediate steps may enable us to wait longer before going to Geneva.

[Page 16]

Secretary Vance: I agree that the trip must be substantive. The key points need to be cleared up. But we also need greater clarity on procedural things. There are a lot of generalities on both sides. We should seek greater precision. It will be difficult but we should try. We should try to get a feel for the limits of give on either side.

Secretary Brown: Do we know where we want things to come out? We should.

Dr. Brzezinski: Right.

Secretary Vance: I agree.

Dr. Brzezinski: The Eban pull-out of the election is an interesting development.19 He is supporting Peres who is a peace candidate. This means Eban thinks Peres might win, and he might live up to an agreement, if pushed.

Secretary Vance: We need a tentative conclusion on where we think we want to come out.

Dr. Brzezinski: Don’t give the impression we are trying to impose a blueprint on them. Let them develop some ideas on their own under Cy’s (Vance) stimulation and encouragement.

Secretary Vance: I think the time is shorter than some others do. It will be very difficult to put off Geneva beyond September. We shouldn’t go before we have a clear idea where the meeting will go, but there are so many things rattling around there that it would be disastrous to try to push it off. (to Mr. Knoche) I understand you may not share this view.

Mr. Knoche: I don’t disagree.

Secretary Vance: (UN Secretary General) Waldheim will press very hard for Geneva. He will argue for a one-day meeting, which will establish a series of working groups and then break up. That’s just not sensible. How do we deal with Waldheim? We may be pressed by the Arabs.

Mr. Knoche: We have a news report that the Israelis will tell Waldheim they won’t attend a Geneva Conference with the PLO. They will tell Secretary Vance that the step-by-step process should continue and ask him to consider a US initiative to get it started again.

Secretary Brown: Does the Secretary General remember when he had a speech all ready and he couldn’t give it because the parties were still squabbling about the seating?

[Page 17]

Mr. Atherton: And that was without the Palestinians even being there. It was a question of who sat next to the Israelis.

Secretary Vance: He remembers, but he plans to try for an early ceremonial meeting. I have urged him not to take a firm position until both our trips are completed. He is meeting with the President on February 2520 and he has agreed nothing will happen immediately after that. Maybe as a result of the trips we can convince the Arabs not to press for a meeting until we know where we’re going. They tell Roy (Atherton) and me one thing, but the situation in the capitals may be different.

Mr. Atherton: They may press for a UN Security Council meeting. The trick of your trip is to avoid getting locked into a time-table but to do enough to convince the Arabs that we are not just giving them the run around and stalling for time. We must bend our efforts to reconvene Geneva in the latter part of the year, but we must convince them we are doing more than talking about talking about talking.

Secretary Vance: We have to have a better feel for the substance of their positions.

Mr. Atherton: I agree.

Dr. Brzezinski: The Waldheim trip may be a tactical advantage for you. He will talk loudly about Geneva, which will scare the Israelis and make the Arabs happy. You come along and talk substance. You can tell the Arabs we are not ready for Geneva, but how about a serious meeting before Geneva. To the Israelis, you should show concern about a Geneva meeting and the Soviet role therein but say that Waldheim is pushing it. We would prefer to have a preparatory meeting to deal with substance. You can use Waldheim as a nuisance-maker and possibly get something from both sides.

Vice President Mondale: We might be able to make use of (German Foreign Minister) Genscher’s forthcoming trip to the Middle East. The French Foreign Minister is going too.21

Secretary Vance: Maybe the latter is not going.

Vice President Mondale: You are aware of our efforts to keep the European Community countries from saying something, and they were cooperative. But the price of that effort may be to bring in the Europeans as much as we prudently can. We might tell Genscher what we are looking for; he might be able to help.

Secretary Vance: The British have suggested informally that they would like to have me stop off in London on my way back since the [Page 18] British are in the chair in the EC. I have told them it just wasn’t possible but that I will get in touch with (Ambassador) Ramsbotham on my return. He can convey our views. The idea is a good one if we can think of something constructive to give Genscher.

Vice President Mondale: I think he would be pleased to help us if he could.

Secretary Vance: Let’s talk about Soviet participation: to what extent and at what time? Are there differing views on this? Fritz (Vice President Mondale)?

Vice President Mondale: I’d like to ask Mr. Knoche if he has any evidence which could lead us to believe that the Russians might play a constructive role at Geneva.

Mr. Knoche: No. They will build their strategy on the Arab position.

Vice President Mondale: That means they will join with the most militant. The Arabs always ask the Russians what their position will be and they never tell them. They will just stir up the rehetoric.

Secretary Vance: I have asked Dobrynin what their views are and he was very general. I said I would inform them of the results of my trip. He was appreciative and said this information would be helpful in their position as co-chairman of the Geneva Conference. He didn’t press me. He suggested I stop in Geneva to initial a treaty in another area, which was just a ploy to try to link my trip to Geneva. I said it was impossible and he didn’t press.

Secretary Brown: What incentive would there be for the Russians to be constructive at Geneva. Could we find one?

Secretary Vance: If there is a conflict, they are worried about confrontation.

Secretary Blumenthal: Is there any reason to feel that the parties could come to a settlement without the cooperation of the Soviets?

Secretary Vance: No.

Secretary Blumenthal: Many Arabs want a settlement. Could we try to find a way to get the Russians to assist?

Dr. Brzezinski: The issue is not whether or not to leave them out; the issue is when to bring them in. For the first time in 23 years, the Arabs are not trying to play off the US and the USSR. There is merit in focusing first on a substantive discussion without the Russians. But in the final play, the Russians should participate and, indeed, should be guarantors of a settlement.

Secretary Blumenthal: Is there some way to associate them with the first phase?

Dr. Brzezinski: They should be kept informed.

Secretary Vance: Yes; I can brief them after the trip as co-chairman of the Geneva Conference. They were very appreciative of our reference to them as co-chairman.

[Page 19]

Dr. Brzezinski: You could meet with Gromyko.

Secretary Vance: Yes. They said if a settlement was reached, they would be prepared to be a guarantor, either with the US or with the US and others.

How about the PLO? Any new ideas?

Dr. Brzezinski: If there are semi-formal initial talks, the PLO problem becomes easier.

Secretary Vance: I have to convince the Arabs that they must come off their position that they won’t recognize the State of Israel—that there won’t be a Geneva conference without it.

Mr. Knoche: [less than 1 line not declassified] report that Arafat would settle for the West Bank and Gaza,22 but he can’t say so publicly. The movement is so fragmented that Arafat can’t prevail.

Secretary Brown: Unfortunately we can’t use [less than 1 line not declassified] as a substitute for a public statement.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Middle East File, Subject File, Box 66, Middle East: Peace Negotiations 1977 Volume I [IV]. Secret; Sensitive. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room.
  2. An undated paper entitled “Response to Presidential Memorandum/NSC–3: Middle East” is in the Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Middle East File, Subject File, Box 77, PRM 3: Initial Middle East Interagency Review: 1–2/77.
  3. Brzezinski sent the PRC meeting’s Summary of Conclusions to Carter in an attached February 4 memorandum. In the margin next to the section “Aid to Israel,” Carter wrote, “ok—Tie increase to cancellation of plane sale to Ecuador.” (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Middle East File, Subject File, Box 66, Middle East: Peace Negotiations 1977 Volume I [IV])
  4. For background on the boycott, see footnote 2, Document 1.
  5. The Export Administration Act, first enacted by Congress in 1949, created an extensive export control system for U.S. trade. The 1976 Tax Reform Act revised the U.S. tax code for individuals and companies.
  6. On the Summary of Conclusions that he received from Brzezinski, Carter wrote, “Shapiro-Rockefeller memo is good” in the margin next to this paragraph.
  7. In the margin next to this paragraph in the Summary of Conclusions, Carter wrote, “ok.”
  8. At the conclusion of the final paragraph of the Summary of Conclusions, Carter wrote, “ok—My meetings with leaders can fulfill some need for first meetings.”
  9. In July 1972, President Sadat expelled Soviet military advisers from Egypt, and in March 1976, he abrogated Egypt’s 1971 Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation with the Soviet Union. This led the Soviet Union to reduce the number of spare parts it provided Egypt’s military. The situation in Lebanon refers to the civil war that had been continuing there since 1975. Documentation on the U.S. response to the Lebanese civil war is in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. XXVI, Arab-Israeli Dispute, 1974–1976.
  10. Israel Aerospace Industries produced the Kfir fighter jet during the 1970s. In early February, the Carter administration decided to block Israel’s sale of 24 Kfir fighters to Ecuador because they were equipped with American jet engines. Additionally, the administration refused to supply cluster bombs to Israel, despite a previous Ford administration agreement to provide them. (Frances Ofner, “Syrian Pullback in Lebanon Aids Vance’s Tour,” Christian Science Monitor, February 14, 1977, p. 4)
  11. Northrop produced the design for the twin-engine XF–17 fighter aircraft during the 1970s, which ultimately evolved into the F/A–18 Hornet fighter aircraft.
  12. Vance testified before a Senate Banking subcommittee on February 28 that the administration would support passage of a law barring U.S. companies from complying with the Arab boycott of Israel. On March 1, in testimony before the House International Relations Committee, he clarified that position, noting that the administration would support either new legislation or amendments to existing bills. (Bernard Gwertzman, “Carter Seeking Bill To Thwart Boycott,” New York Times, March 1, 1977, p. 1; “Vance Clarifies Policy on Antiboycott Bill,” New York Times, March 2, 1977, p. 7)
  13. The Trading with the Enemy Act, first enacted by Congress in 1917, restricts trade with countries identified as hostile to the United States.
  14. On October 19, Presidential nominee Jimmy Carter blamed “President Ford for the continued existence of the Arab boycott of companies doing business with Israel,” and Carter vowed “to put an end to it if he is elected.” (James T. Wooten, “Carter Vows To End Boycott of Israel,” New York Times, October 20, 1976, p. 28)
  15. Irving S. Shapiro served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the DuPont Corporation from December 1973 to 1981.
  16. National Intelligence Estimate 36.1–1–77; Central Intelligence Agency, History Staff Files.
  17. On February 3, Sadat made a speech denouncing riots that took place two weeks before over price increases for food and various consumer goods. He signed a decree outlawing various political actions, including demonstrations and strikes, and providing severe jail sentences for those who took part in such actions. (Bernard Gwertzman, “Vance Mission to the Mideast,” New York Times, February 4, 1977, p. 6)
  18. Under Kissinger’s “step-by-step” approach, which lasted from January 1974 until September 1975, the United States passed on seeking a comprehensive peace settlement in the Middle East in favor of brokering two disengagement agreements between Israel and Egypt and one disengagement agreement between Israel and Syria. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. XXVI, Arab-Israeli Dispute, 1974–1976.
  19. Former Israeli Foreign Minister and Ambassador to the United States Abba Eban challenged Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin for the Labor Party nomination as Prime Minister in early 1977. Eban withdrew himself from consideration on February 3 and backed Defense Minister Shimon Peres instead for the May 17 election. (“Eban Drops Out of Israeli Race,” Washington Post, February 3, 1977, p. A16)
  20. Carter met with Secretary General Waldheim on February 25 from 11:30 a.m. to noon. (Carter Library, Presidential Materials, President’s Daily Diary)
  21. Louis de Guiringaud served as French Foreign Minister from August 27, 1976 to November 29, 1978.
  22. See Document 5.