170. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to President Carter1
- Middle East Strategy (U)
Secretary Vance has sent you a report on the results of the Atherton mission (Tab A). In brief, the only promising result was the possibility that both Egypt and Israel might agree to drop the idea of asking for our legal interpretation of Article VI (5).2 Otherwise, no real substantive progress was made in twelve days of talks. Atherton’s conclusion is that the remaining issues cannot be solved in isolation and must be settled at the political level as a package. (S)
Before we take any new initiative, we need to ask ourselves some hard questions about the developments surrounding the negotiations:
—Time is working against the Camp David approach. The longer the negotiations go on, the greater the likelihood that any agreement reached will only be a separate Egyptian-Israeli treaty. Our own political realities must be taken into account.
—Neither party wants to appear overly anxious to conclude the talks. They both know that we will be tempted to ask further conces[Page 587]sions from the more eager party. Sadat in particular fears that we will turn to him as the more pliant of the two parties.
—Talk of a summit may have the effect of precluding progress at any other level. Both Sadat and Begin may prefer not to play any cards until they deal directly with you.
—Our refusal to discuss aid questions has not had the effect of softening the Israeli stand. At some point we will have to decide how to respond to Israeli aid requests. The more we commit now, the less we will have to work with when the West Bank/Gaza negotiation gets underway.
—The situation in Iran has produced a greater degree of caution in both Israel and Egypt. (S)
Within the very near future we will need to make fundamental decisions on the substance, procedure and timing of another round of negotiations. (C)
- Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Middle East, Subject File, Box 16, Egypt-Israel Negotiations: 2/79. Secret. Sent for information. The date is handwritten. Carter initialed “C” at the top of the memorandum, indicating that he saw the document.↩
- Atherton and Hansell met with Khalil, Boutros Ghali, and el-Baz in Cairo on January 26 to discuss the remaining issues in the treaty text. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840163–0775) In the course of these discussions, Khalil proposed addressing the impasse over Article VI (5) by suggesting replacing the U.S. memorandum of law with an agreed statement on the two sides’ problems with the paragraph. When Atherton and Hansell proposed this to Begin on January 27, the Prime Minister stated that he would “not reject” Khalil’s proposal “out of hand.” (Telegram 326 from Jerusalem, January 27; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P850011–1343)↩
- Secret; Nodis. Carter initialed “C” at the top of the memorandum, indicating that he saw the document.↩
- See footnote 2, Document 171.↩
- See Documents 157 and 158.↩