183. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • The President
  • Secretary Vance
  • Prime Minister Khalil—Egypt
  • Foreign Minister Dayan—Israel
  • Zbigniew Brzezinski

The President: We are running out of time. Therefore, it is important when you go back for there not to be any public rejection of any facets of the proposals advanced here. There should be no categorical statements that one will never yield, etc.

The interim between this and the next meeting will cause problems. The longer a decision is delayed, the more difficult it will be to reach it.

My own hope is that we can get together for a summit this coming weekend and I hope Prime Minister Begin can attend. I can spend some time on this in the latter part of this week. (To Khalil) You have full authority to negotiate a full settlement, don’t you?

Khalil: Yes, unless we can conclude an agreement now, it will be difficult to do so in a month and impossible in two or three. Our region is threatened. Nimeiri and Fahd have urged an Arab summit before an Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty is concluded. President Sadat has confirmed that our desire for peace is consistent, but we cannot isolate ourselves from the Arab world. The remaining difficulties are trifling. The proposed formulas are fair to Israeli security and our position in the Arab world.

The President: The most stabilizing action would be an Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. Once it is done, the other Arab countries cannot reject Egypt. An Arab summit after the treaty could be fruitful. Without peace, things will deteriorate.

Dayan: I agree on the urgency.

The President: Does the Cabinet sense it?

Dayan: All agree, but some might feel that now is not a good time for a withdrawal or for autonomy. I feel that we should do away with the military government. But there are differences of view among us on autonomy.

[Page 626]From the Israeli point of view, there has been no progress this week; if anything, the other way. At Blair House2 there were fewer disagreements. The latest U.S. draft on article 6–2 involves adoption of the Egyptian position, and thus the Egyptian proposal has become the U.S. proposal.

I would like the Prime Minister to come and reach agreement, but in my report I will have to say that there was no progress from the Israeli point of view. The gap is now wider than at Blair House.

Vance: The Blair House formulas were ad referendum. What is really left is article 6.

(Discussion of article 6—of the difficulties of finding good language.)

Dayan: Other elements include full withdrawal and full normalization. Now we are told that ambassadors would be linked to the autonomy issue.

The President: Your version of history is not compatible with mine. The ambassador issue arose subsequent to the Camp David agreement. Besides you can have a situation where one is obligated by treaty to have an ambassador. As a final step there should be a commitment to exchange ambassadors, but even then each side can withdraw the ambassador.

In any case we are operating under narrow time limits, but if a treaty is signed other Arab countries will have to accept it. The Gaza negotiations could be separated to some extent and that might be constructive.

Finally, I hope Prime Minister Begin will come over here. We must avoid a breakdown. Also, we need to have bilateral talks. Our budget is in the final stages. We therefore need to discuss these matters with someone who has authority.

The importance of all this is very high to the United States and to the world at large. The United States will accept whatever the two of you can accept; there is no U.S. position as such.

(To Dayan) Have you agreed on the statement3 that I can now read to the press?

Dayan: Yes.

  1. Source: Carter Library, Brzezinski Donated Material, Subject File, Box 36, Serial Xs—(1/79–2/79). Secret. Drafted on February 26. The meeting took place in the Oval Office.
  2. See Documents 84, 86 87, 90, and 94.
  3. The prepared statement, summarizing the February 21–25 Camp David talks and announcing the possibility of moving the negotiations to the “head-of-government level,” involving Begin and Khalil, by the end of the week, was read by Carter on the South Lawn of the White House on February 25. The full text of the statement is in the Department of State Bulletin, April 1979, pp. 39–40.