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


  • Status of Egypt-Israel Peace Negotiations (U)

The negotiations have been stuck for the past month over two sets of issues:

Minor points associated with the text of the treaty: an interpretive note to Article IV dealing with the right to review security arrangements; an interpretive note to Article VI (2) on the relationship of the treaty to the Camp David agreements; our legal opinion on the relationship of this treaty to other treaties as defined in Article VI (5).

The “linkage” issues: the text of a letter on West Bank/Gaza negotiations, including the question of a “target date”; the timing of the exchange of ambassadors to coincide with the establishment of the self-governing authority in the West Bank/Gaza. These will be the most difficult problems to resolve. (S)

Atherton has been able to make only modest progress in his talks with the Israelis. He has been told that Article IV can be settled if the Egyptians drop their insistence on a mandatory review of security arrangements after five years.2 In addition, the Israelis have proposed the text of a draft letter which would clarify some of the legal controversy over Article VI (5).3 It includes language that would amount to a blank [Page 585]check endorsement of any Israeli retaliatory military action and goes considerably beyond what we had proposed. Nonetheless, it appears as if we are coming closer to agreement on how to settle this issue. Unfortunately, the Israelis have been adamant in insisting that the interpretive note to Article VI (2) must be dropped altogether. (S)

We can anticipate that the Egyptians will not be much impressed with what Atherton brings from Jerusalem.4 At best we will still confront the hard linkage issues, as well as Article VI (2) after Roy’s trip. In assessing our next move, we will then have to take the following points into consideration:

The time factor. Time is working against accommodation. It also means that the debate over West Bank/Gaza issues is being pushed into 1980, which will not make it easier for us to use our influence.

Israeli hawkishness. Sharon is rising in influence; Weizman is lying low; Dayan is cautious. Begin is under attack from left and right. Virtually no one supports the “autonomy” approach to the West Bank/Gaza. Settlement activity is picking up.

Arab realignments. Iraq and Syria are moving closer, drawing Jordan into their sphere of influence; Jordan and the PLO are going ahead with their dialogue; West Bankers are thoroughly demoralized; the Saudis are afraid and therefore cautious; Egypt is still snubbing the Saudis and Jordanians.

Israeli concerns. The Shah’s departure5 has increased Israeli anxiety over regional instability and over oil supply. Israel is demanding 50,000 bpd of oil from Egypt, which may be more than Egypt is willing to sell. Israel is also upset that we have been unresponsive to aid requests associated with Sinai withdrawal. (S)

Secretary Vance has taken the position that he would be prepared to invite Dayan and Khalil to Washington if Atherton makes some [Page 586]progress. He expects that he might be able to finish off the treaty issues, but that a summit toward the end of February might be needed to resolve the final “linkage” problems, as well as oil and aid questions. (S)

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Middle East, Subject File, Box 76, Peace Negotiations: 1–10/79. Secret.
  2. Atherton, Hansell, and Lewis reported Israel’s position on Article IV in telegram 193 from Jerusalem, January 18. They noted that having gone over both of the disputed articles “exhaustively” with the Israelis, January 17–18, “we have had no indication so far of any give in Israeli positions” with the exception of Article IV. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840171–0487)
  3. The Consulate General forwarded the Israelis’ proposed revisions to Article VI, presented January 18, in telegram 196 from Jerusalem, January 19. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840171–0641) Atherton, Hansell, and Lewis discussed these with the Israeli team on January 19. (Telegram 213 from Jerusalem, January 19; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840171–0595) Atherton and Hansell produced a compromise letter, reconciling the U.S. and Israeli positions, and sent it to Vance in telegram 211 from Jerusalem, January 19. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840171–0605) The Department made further revisions to this compromise draft, in consultation with Vance, conveyed in telegrams 15643 and 15646 to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, January 20 (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840171–0577 and P840171–0570, respectively) and telegram 15647 to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, January 20. (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Cables File, State Department Out, Box 115, 1/15–24/79) The Consulate General reported these revisions, discussed in three separate meetings with the Israelis January 20–22, in telegram 224 from Jerusalem, January 21, and telegrams 228 and 249 from Jerusalem, January 22. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840163–1886; P840171–0546; and P850011–1389, respectively)
  4. This view was shared by Eilts, who reported to Atherton on January 19, “you are going to find the Egyptians no less tough than the Israelis” on Article VI. (Telegram 1312 from Cairo, January 19; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840156–1859)
  5. See footnote 3, Document 168. The Shah of Iran and his wife left Iran on January 16, 1979. In the midst of widespread anti-government protests in the aftermath of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s return from exile on February 1, the Iranian Army’s Supreme Council announced on February 11 its decision to call its troops back to their barracks in order “to prevent further bloodshed and anarchy.” The provisional government of Prime Minister Shapour Bakhtiar collapsed shortly thereafter. (Nicholas Gage, “Army Withdraws its Support for Bakhtiar; Iranian Prime Minister Reported to Resign,” The New York Times, February 12, p. A1)