Sources for Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, Volume VIII, Arab-Israeli Dispute

This is the first of two volumes in the Foreign Relations series documenting U.S. engagement in the Arab-Israeli dispute from 1977 to 1981. It focuses on Egyptian-Israeli negotiations over the return of the Sinai and attempts to define self-rule for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Although events in Lebanon and engagement with Syria and Jordan receive coverage in this volume, the documents relating to the Egyptian-Israeli negotiations are more prominently featured due to their importance in establishing the first peace treaty between Israel and an Arab state. The purpose of this access guide is to inform the reader where to locate the most relevant material for the period from January 1977 to August 1978.

Research on this topic should begin at the Carter Library in Atlanta, Georgia. Because President Carter played such a prevalent and personal role in the negotiations, the White House drove policy relating to the Arab-Israeli dispute, and the records reflect this. The richest collection in the Carter Library for researchers is the Middle East File (Collection 25), located in the Records of the National Security Adviser files, Staff Material. The Middle East File provides the most comprehensive assortment of files relating to the administration’s involvement in the Middle East with memoranda of conversation from meetings between Carter and Arab and Israeli leaders. Additionally, the collection contains memoranda from National Security Adviser Brzezinski to Carter, strategy papers, background papers on various issues of interest to the administration, and letters between Carter, Arab leaders, and Israeli leaders. Finally, there are also records within this file that include an overview of the major meetings and events that occurred during the administration’s negotiations on the Arab-Israeli dispute. The NSC Institutional Files (Collection 132) contain the minutes of the Policy Review Committee and Special Coordination Committee meetings as well as the papers and memoranda related to those meetings. An alternative place to look for such documents is in the Records of the National Security Adviser files, Staff Material Office File (Collection 17), which helps to fill in the gaps that appear in the NSC Institutional Files. The Plains Files (Collection 128), which President Carter used to write his memoir Keeping the Faith, contain a variety of documentation on this subject, notably his letters to Begin and Sadat as well as handwritten notes from his meetings with both leaders. These handwritten notes [Page XIV] also include material relating to private discussions Carter held with Begin and Sadat that occurred after the official negotiations, and therefore do not appear in the memoranda of conversation covering those official meetings.

The Department of State Lot Files are the next richest resource for researchers to examine. These include the lot files for Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, Under Secretary Philip Habib, Deputy Secretary Warren Christopher, Assistant Secretary Alfred Atherton, and Ambassador Herman Eilts. These files can be laborious to work through since many of them are not well organized. Still, an examination of these resources offers researchers access to documents that are not necessarily available in the Carter Library. For example, Secretary Vance’s memoranda of conversation are almost exclusively located in his lot file. Assistant Secretary Alfred Atherton’s lot file contains a variety of documents related to his shuttles to the Middle East during the winter and spring of 1978.

The Department of Defense’s records for this topic include memoranda of conversation between Secretary of Defense Harold Brown and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Israeli Defense Minister Ezer Weizman. The records of the Secretary of Defense, his deputy, and his assistants are at the Washington National Records Center and contain some files that are also available in the National Security Adviser files at the Carter Library. No Central Intelligence Agency records were used in the volume; however many intelligence documents that reached the highest level are in the National Security Adviser files at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library.

This documentation has been made available for use in the Foreign Relations series thanks to the consent of the agencies mentioned, the assistance of their staffs, and especially the cooperation and support of the National Archives and Records Administration.

Unpublished Sources

  • Department of State
    • Central Foreign Policy File. See National Archives and Records Administration below.
    • Lot Files. For other lot files already transferred to the National Archives and Records Administration at College Park, Maryland, Record Group 59, see National Archives and Records Administration below.
      • Lot 84D241 Records of Secretary Cyrus R. Vance
  • National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland
    • Record Group 59, Files of the Department of State
      • Central Foreign Policy File
  • Jimmy Carter Presidential Library, Atlanta, Georgia
    • Brzezinski Donated Historical Material
      • Geographic File
    • Records of the Office of the National Security Adviser
      • Brzezinski Material
        • Brzezinski Office File
          • Country Chron File
        • Cables File
        • Country File
        • President’s Correspondence with Foreign Leaders File
        • Subject File
        • Trip File
        • VIP Visit File
      • Staff Material
        • Chron File
        • Freedom of Information/Legal File
        • Middle East File
          • Trip/Visits File
        • Office File
          • Outside the System File
        • Subject File
    • National Security Council Files
      • NSC Institutional Files
    • Office of the Chief of Staff’s File
      • Hamilton Jordan’s Confidential Files
    • Plains File
    • President’s Daily Diary
  • Washington National Records Center, Suitland, Maryland
    • RG330, Record of the Department of Defense

Published Sources

  • Brzezinski, Zbigniew. Power and Principle: Memoirs of the National Security Adviser, 1977–1981. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1983.
  • Carter, Jimmy. White House Diary. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2010.
  • Chicago Tribune
  • The Los Angeles Times
  • The New York Times
  • Quandt, William B. Camp David: Peacemaking and Politics. Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution, 1986.
  • United States. Department of State. Department of State Bulletin. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1972–1977.
  • United States. National Archives and Records Administration. Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Jimmy Carter, 1977, 1978. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1977, 1978.
  • Vance, Cyrus. Hard Choices: Critical Years in America’s Foreign Policy. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1983.
  • The Washington Post