10. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Israel1

207141. Subject: Message to Begin on Settlements. Ref: State 204867.2

Following for your information is Prime Minister Begin’s reply to the Secretary’s message of August 14, as delivered by Israeli Embassy August 15. Begin text:

Dear Mr. Secretary:

I thank you for your kind message of August 14th which reached me first thing this morning upon my return from a brief but fine vacation.

I understand your message was written before our cabinet resolved3 to suspend all decisions with regard to the five proposed nahal settlements until after the Camp David meeting.

I wish to use this opportunity, Mr. Secretary, to inform you of two basic facts:

—A) Nahal is a formation within the framework of the Israel Defense Forces.

—B) The most recent decision to establish five new nahal outposts in the Jordan Valley was originally taken on June 18, seven weeks before the idea of the forthcoming tripartite meeting was conceived.

I am informed that certain commentators in the U.S. media have expressed the opinion that Israel, by its alleged acts, was actually seeking to torpedo the Camp David meeting. You will perceive from the facts, Mr. Secretary, that nothing could be further from the truth. And truth, as always, will prevail.

May I repeat to you my profound conviction that whilst I believe all of the three countries concerned are interested in the success of the Camp David meeting, none is more so than the State of Israel.

In conclusion, Mr. Secretary, I wish to respectfully remark on one particular sentence in your recent message. It reads: ‘as you will remember after the historic steps of last fall, a principal reason the peace [Page 29]negotiations very soon ran into trouble was the action taken with respect to settlements.’

I am compelled to differ. In certain quarters this was given as an excuse. It was never the cause. I have heard many excuses why the January talks in Jerusalem were so abruptly suspended to your surprise and mine, the latest being the speech made by Foreign Minister Dayan at the very inception of the meeting.

All this however, belongs to the past. I am looking ahead to our important consultations in which we have all agreed to embark for the sake of peace.

I shall be grateful, Mr. Secretary, if you would bring this letter to the knowledge of the President.

With best wishes, Sincerely, Menachem Begin.

End text.

2. We do not plan to respond.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840140–2308. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Drafted by James P. Covey (NEA/IAI); cleared by Korn, Houghton, Ann K. Korky (NEA), and Stanislaus R.P. Valerga (S/S–O); approved by Korn. Sent for information Immediate to Cairo.
  2. See Document 8.
  3. August 14.