50. Summary of a Policy Review Committee Meeting1


  • State:
  • Secretary Cyrus Vance (Chairman)
  • Alfred L. Atherton, Jr.
  • Defense
  • Secretary Harold Brown
  • David E. McGiffert
  • JCS
  • General George S. Brown
  • Lt. General William Y. Smith
  • CIA
  • Admiral Stansfield Turner
  • Robert Bowie
  • NSC
  • Zbigniew Brzezinski
  • David Aaron
  • William Quandt

1. Chariot Tank. The group agreed that we should allow Israel to use $107 million in FMS credits to expand the production line on the Chariot tank, but this decision should be included in a post-Begin visit arms package. Secretary Vance will meet with the Humphrey sub-committee2 this week on the non-lethal items for Egypt and on F–15s for Iran. If asked about Chariots, he will say that he is inclined to recommend in favor of the request, provided that the question of future Israeli exports can be resolved.

2. Begin Visit. It was the PRC’s consensus that the President should open the meeting with Prime Minister Begin with a broad overview of our strategic assessment and of the basic elements of our policy. It should be made clear that we are not trying to impose these views, but that they represent our best judgment on the likely outcome of comprehensive peace negotiations, and are also in our judgment fair to all parties. If Israel can do better in negotiations, we will not be an obstacle. The President should anticipate that Begin may argue against any preconditions for Geneva and may propose an alternative approach of limited agreements in Sinai and Golan, plus a refugee settlement. Concerning the idea of a US-Israel security treaty, the group generally felt [Page 334] that it was premature to raise this with Begin, but that it might be desirable at a later stage.

3. Principles. The PRC agreed that Secretary Vance should discuss the attached list of draft principles with Begin.3 On each point, he would be prepared to expand orally upon our views, but the object of the written list as it stands would be to try to get Israeli and Arab acceptance of these principles as a common framework for negotiations. We should tell Begin that we will be discussing the same list with the Arab leaders during Secretary Vance’s upcoming trip. The principles do not mention the 1967 lines or a link of a Palestinian entity to Jordan, but Vance would discuss our position on these issues with each of the leaders. If Begin accepts the points, or agrees to consider them, then we will work on gaining Arab acceptance. If he completely refuses the idea of agreed principles, we will nonetheless take them to the Arab leaders, as we promised we would do. This could, however, become politically controversial if it results in the appearance of the US and the Arabs lining up against Israel before Geneva.

4. Palestinian Representation. While none of the options in the attached paper is fully satisfactory, it was felt that we should discuss them with Begin and get his views. We would hope to resolve this in pre-Geneva procedural talks.

5. Pre-Geneva Process. Regardless of how the discussion of draft principles goes, we should raise with Begin, and later with the Arab leaders, the idea of some form of pre-Geneva talks, ostensibly to discuss procedures, but also to develop common ground on substance. One possibility would be for the Foreign Ministers to come to Washington in September before the UN General Assembly session.

6. AWACS for Iran. In view of Congressional criticism of the sale of 7 AWACS to Iran,4 a working group should develop guidance for use by Administration officials in testimony or in answering questions. In brief, the AWACS will contribute to Iran’s defensive capability; Iran is in a sensitive area of the world; and the alternative of a ground-based radar system would be both more expensive and require more US technicians. The sale will be treated as an exception to PD–13.5

7. Follow-on actions.

(1) State will prepare the basic briefing paper for the Begin visit in line with today’s discussion.

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(2) State in coordination with the NSC staff, will prepare a paper on how to amplify orally each of the draft principles.

(3) State, in coordination with the NSC Staff, will prepare a paper on pre-Geneva procedural talks.

(4) A working group from State, Defense and NSC will develop guidance on the reasons for the sale of 7 AWACS to Iran.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Brzezinski Office File, Country Chron File, Box 31, Middle East: 7–8/77. Top Secret; Sensitive. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room. An attached undated covering memorandum from Brzezinski to the President requested approval of the summary of the meeting, of whether the five principles were satisfactory, and of the general approach recommended by the PRC for handling the Chariot tank request. Carter indicated his approval of all three and in a handwritten note next to the Chariot tank request approval wrote, “I’ll make final decision after Tuesday.” Carter was presumably refrerring to Tuesday, July 19, after his meeting with Begin.
  2. Senator Hubert Humphrey’s Subcommittee on Foreign Assistance of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
  3. The draft principles are in a July 11 paper that is not attached. A copy is in the Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Materials, Middle East File, Subject File, Box 66, Peace Negotiations 1977 Vol. I [IV]. See the Attachment to Document 54.
  4. In June, the Carter administration announced plans to sell seven AWACS aircraft to Iran, which led to significant criticism from Congress and the media.
  5. Document 33.