171. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to President Carter1

SUBJECT

  • Secretary Vance’s Middle East Strategy Paper (U)

The paper at Tab A2 describes the essential substantive problem in the negotiations concerning the “linkage” issue. It recommends that we try to repackage the outstanding issues by persuading Sadat to drop the direct conditionality between the exchange of ambassadors and the holding of West Bank/Gaza elections in return for a stronger letter on the Palestinian issue. (S)

Secretary Vance also suggests two procedural steps: a ministerial meeting in the area and a summit. I understand that he is increasingly leaning toward the idea of a summit without a prior ministerial meeting. (S)

What I find lacking in this discussion is a sense of broader regional strategy and the importance of time. We have a window, I believe, of about two months within which to conclude the Egypt-Israel negotiations. It is becoming more difficult, not less, to bring about accommoda[Page 591]tion on the remaining issues. In order to do so, we need to convince both parties that we view the Egypt-Israel treaty as a step toward building a more secure regional environment in which we are prepared to play an increasingly important role. (S)

As things now stand, we have been talking of the treaty primarily as a step toward further negotiations on the Palestinian question. But equally important, the treaty could be the take-off point for a more coherent approach to regional security problems. Secretary Brown’s upcoming visit3 to the area provides the opportunity to begin to emphasize this theme. Increasingly, we need to relate the peace negotiations to a broader strategic framework which takes into account the developments in Iran, the weakness of Saudi Arabia, the assertiveness of the Soviets, and the new alignments in the Arab world. (S)

  1. Source: Carter Library, Brzezinski Donated Material, Subject File, Box 36, Serial Xs—(1/79–2/79). Secret. Sent for information. Carter initialed “C” at the top of the memorandum, indicating that he saw the document, and wrote: “for Friday a.m. breakfast.”
  2. Attached but not printed.
  3. For a discussion of Brown’s visit to the Middle East, see Document 172.