188. Transcript of a Telephone Conversation Between President Carter and Israeli Prime Minister Begin1


  • The President
  • Prime Minister Begin

The President: How are you?

Begin: Wonderful to hear your voice.

The President: I got your letter2 to the effect that you could not negotiate with Prime Minister Khalil at a summit.

Begin: I apologize, but after hearing a report from the Foreign Minister, I felt it would not be useful. We need to reflect for a while and then decide how to proceed.

The President: For me it would be better if we could meet later this week. It is late in terms of the Congress, particularly as to budgetary matters. Later than this week would delay any future participation by the Egyptians.

Begin: When should I come? I need to consult my colleagues in the Cabinet.

The President: I was hoping that we could meet this Thursday3 or Friday.4

Begin: I could leave Friday and arrive late Saturday. We could talk on Sunday. I could spend the sabbath in New York City. I cannot leave tomorrow. At the earliest I could leave Thursday a.m.

The President: I hate to quibble, but the end of this week is better for me. Is there any way you could be here Wednesday night?

Begin: I could leave Thursday morning and be with you Thursday evening and Friday, until the sabbath.

The President: That would be better for me. We will provide you with transportation from New York.

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Begin: I will leave Thursday morning and then the plane can take me to Washington Thursday evening. We can meet then and again Friday morning. Will you announce it?

The President: We will announce it at 4:00 p.m. our time.5

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Office, Outside the System File, Box 66, Middle East: President Carter’s Trip to Jerusalem and Cairo: 2–4/79. Secret. At the top of the transcript, Carter wrote “OK, C.” According to the President’s Daily Diary, Carter spoke with Begin from the Oval Office from 2:33 p.m. to 2:39 p.m. on February 27. (Carter Library, Presidential Materials)
  2. See Document 185.
  3. March 1.
  4. March 2.
  5. Carter announced Begin’s visit at the beginning of his February 27 news conference. The complete text of the announcement is printed in the Department of State Bulletin, April 1979, p. 7.