44. Draft Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Egypt1

For Ambassador From the Secretary. Subject: Oral Message From President Carter for President Sadat.

1. As you know, we are currently preparing for Begin visit. In our deliberations to date, we have been considering ways and means of increasing chances for outcome positive enough to maintain momentum in peace process.

2. You will have noted that tone of recent public pronouncements of Begin and his closest collaborators—particularly Dayan—have, for most part, been carefully worded to emphasize acceptance of 242 and willingness to go to Geneva without preconditions. We are unable, at this time, to determine how much of this is cosmetics (e.g., other statements have suggested withdrawal from West Bank is excluded) and will not be able to answer this question at least until visit takes place.

3. In devising best strategy to achieve positive outcome of Begin visit, we believe it would be most helpful if Sadat (or key Arab leaders jointly if there were to be mini-summit of moderate Arabs before visit) could make public statement in period prior to visit scheduled for July 19–20 which emphasizes commitment to “comprehensive, permanent, normal peace” with Israel as objective of settlement to be negotiated on basis SC Resolution 242. Word “normal” is most important to help US counter expected Begin position that Arabs not really interested in peace, but only territorial advances for tactical purposes. Such a statement would go step beyond helpful posture of wait-and-see which Sadat has adopted since elections, and help set stage for Begin visit here. We also want to encourage Egyptians to lay off public attacks on Israel for period ahead, which obviously undercut our efforts make convincing case that Egypt really wants peace.

4. With foregoing objective in mind, please convey following oral message to Sadat from the President.

5. Begin message:

  • —As President Sadat knows, Prime Minister Begin will be meeting with President Carter in Washington July 19–20. This initial contact with new Israeli leadership will be of great importance for future course of our peacemaking efforts, and President Carter feels he will [Page 321] benefit from an exchange of views with President Sadat as he prepares for the Begin visit.
  • —The President has noted that President Sadat has wisely avoided being drawn into a public debate in response to statements by new Israeli leadership which suggest they may hold more adamant positions than the previous government on some of the key issues of a settlement, particularly the question of withdrawal from West Bank territory. As Vice President Mondale made clear in his June 17 speech,2 and as repeated at President’s direction by the State Department spokes-man on June 27,3 we intend to adhere to the views we have expressed on what would constitute an equitable framework for negotiations with respect to all the core issues, including the need for withdrawal on all fronts in the context of peace.
  • —The President also intends to continue to make clear in discussions with Israelis our conviction that President Sadat is genuinely committed to a permanent peace in which Israel as well as the other countries of the area can enjoy a secure, sovereign existence and move toward normal relations with each other. From reports we have received, the new leadership, which has not of course had the experience of the negotiations its predecessor conducted over the past several years, has serious doubts that President Sadat and other moderate Arab leaders today are really prepared for genuine peace with Israel if just solutions can be found to the territorial and Palestinian issues, and no longer adhere to the position of earlier regimes that a settlement on the basis of Resolution 242 is only a tactical step toward the ultimate elimination of Israel as a sovereign state.
  • —President Carter recognizes that President Sadat has stated his position on a number of occasions. It would be extremely helpful to him, in his talks with Prime Minister Begin, however, if President Sadat (or several Arab leaders jointly) could find an occasion before the Begin visit to reaffirm publicly his commitment to a comprehensive, permanent and normal peace with Israel. The more specific the President felt he could be in such a statement, of course, the better. It would also be helpful if there could be a moratorium on statements or actions during this delicate period in our relations with new Israeli Government—for example, in international organizations—which strengthen the hand of those who argue that the Arabs remain unalterably militant toward Israel. Maintenance of a calm and non-polemical public and international [Page 322] atmosphere will be essential as our efforts go forward over the weeks ahead.
  • —Shortly after the Begin visit, President Carter will send Secretary Vance to the Middle East to brief our Arab friends on that visit and to begin the process of seeking an agreed basis for reconvening the Geneva Conference. Meanwhile, the President would welcome any thoughts and advice President Sadat may wish to convey to him through Ambassador Eilts. The President avails himself of this opportunity to convey his warm personal greetings to President Sadat.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Middle East File, Subject File, Box 10, Egypt: 4–6/77. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Drafted by Atherton and Veliotes on June 27. Cleared by Habib and Brzezinski and approved by Vance.
  2. See footnote 2, Document 40.
  3. State Department Spokesman Hodding Carter III read a statement during his regular news conference on June 27 setting forth the administration’s Middle East policy. (“U.S. Statement on the Middle East,” New York Times, June 28, 1977, p. 6)