162. Memorandum From William B. Quandt of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski)1

SUBJECT

  • Status Report on Egypt-Israel Negotiations (U)

As Secretary Vance has no doubt informed you, the talks with Dayan and Khalil in Brussels went surprisingly well.2 The two men [Page 565]seemed to respect each other and for the first time there was a highly sophisticated discussion of broad regional strategic concerns. (S)

Khalil took the lead in arguing that events in Iran and elsewhere increased the importance of concluding an Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty that would not isolate Egypt from the other Arabs. As he sees it, Egypt should be in a position to play a stabilizing role in Sudan, North Yemen, and Saudi Arabia. Egypt is better suited to take action in support of moderate forces there than is Israel, and he implied that Israel would profit from peace with an Egypt which has influence in the surrounding area. The Soviet threat to the region was also discussed in some detail. In brief, compared to anything that could have been talked about between an Egyptian and an Israeli leader just a year ago, this was a remarkable performance. (S)

On the specific issues in the negotiations, Dayan made useful suggestions on how to handle the less controversial items: (S)

Article 4. Dayan agreed to an interpretive note saying that there will be a review of security arrangements at the request of either party, but he urged deletion of reference to a mandatory review after five years. Khalil agreed.

Article 6. Dayan proposed dropping the interpretive note to paragraph 2, but said that a US legal opinion on the entire Article could be provided to both parties which would include the language of the interpretive note. Israel would probably also ask us for some additions to our legal opinion. Khalil seemed to think this procedure would be acceptable. We may find that Begin will be unwilling to proceed in this manner, but it does seem to be a reasonable approach.

Joint Letter on West Bank/Gaza Negotiations. Dayan now agrees that there should be such a letter signed by both parties. He still opposes any mention of a target date, but did suggest that the letter could be strengthened in other ways to make it more attractive to Sadat. This remains a major problem.

Exchange of Ambassadors. This is the most difficult issue for both parties. Dayan offered to strengthen the joint letter if Egypt would agree to return to the original formulation on exchanging Ambassadors one month after the completion of the interim withdrawal. Both sides are pretty well dug in on this and we are in a weak position to urge Sadat to reconsider.

Procedurally, both Dayan and Khalil agreed that further talks at their level, with our participation, would be useful. After they have re[Page 566]ported to their respective leaders, they will contact Secretary Vance and a decision will be made on when and where another meeting should take place. (I anticipate a meeting in Washington or Europe in about mid-January.) (S)

While the tone of the talks was constructive, I do not think we are much closer to solutions on the most difficult issues. Dayan may also have difficulty, as he has in the past, in delivering Begin on some of his proposed compromises. At best, we may be able to resolve the differences over the interpretive notes in another Dayan-Khalil meeting. That would leave the “linkage” issues—the target date and exchange of Ambassadors. I doubt if these points can be resolved without a Carter-Sadat-Begin Summit, perhaps in February. (S)

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Middle East, Subject File, Box 76, Peace Negotiations: 1–12/78. Secret; Sensitive; Outside System. Sent for information.
  2. No memoranda of conversation for the December 23–24 Brussels meetings among Vance, Dayan, and Khalil have been found. Vance sent a preliminary report of the talks, which he described as “good,” in telegram Secto 15035 from the Secretary’s Aircraft, December 24. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840153–1449) Quandt, who was present for the meetings, later wrote that though Dayan and Khalil “appeared to get along well,” the Brussels talks made “no real headway.” For his account of the meetings, see Camp David, pp. 292–293.