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208. Telegram From Secretary of State Vance to the Embassy in Israel1

For Ambassador Lewis from Secretary Vance.

1. Please deliver following revised message to Begin from President.2

2. Start text.

Dear Mr. Prime Minister,

As I write this message, my heart is filled with emotions. When I left you this morning in Tel Aviv, I had hoped that my talks3 with President Sadat would be successful. I am pleased to inform you that they were. Consequently, we are on the verge of consummating the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel for which you, President Sadat, and I have worked so hard. I think we can feel justifiably proud of our work in pursuit of peace. In the difficult weeks and months ahead, we must all remember how far we have come in the past two years, how many obstacles we have overcome together, and how many times hope has triumphed over despair.

With President Sadat, I reviewed the progress that we made in Jerusalem. The Egyptian delegation had reservations about the formulations on Article VI and was concerned about the deletion of the references to Gaza and to liaison. After discussion, however, President Sadat agreed to the text of the letter without mention of Gaza or liaison and to the agreed minutes on Article VI.

We also discussed staged withdrawals and the exchange of ambassadors. If the Israeli Cabinet reinstitutes phased withdrawal as we discussed, namely the approval of the sub-staging which was proposed and discussed at Blair House, President Sadat will send me a letter confirming his agreement that ambassadors will be exchanged one month after the completion of the interim withdrawal.

During our discussion of oil, President Sadat has accepted the agreed minutes to Annex III which we proposed. For our part, we will proceed to formalize the oil guarantee from the United States which [Page 733]you and I discussed. He has also offered to construct an oil pipeline from the existing wells to Eilat, providing Israel considers this to be desirable. This offer is not to be made known to the public.

I described to President Sadat your willingness to undertake unilateral actions to improve the climate for the next phase of negotiations. He was appreciative and I offered to confirm our understanding in a letter to him.

Finally, I raised with President Sadat the importance of opening the borders after withdrawal from Al-Arish and of encouraging the Egyptian press to adopt a more friendly attitude toward Israel. He responded favorably.

In conclusion, Mr. Prime Minister, I want to express once again my appreciation for your statesmanship and for your courage and leadership. Your country and history will record the great role you have played in bringing peace to Israel and Egypt and, we pray, to the Middle East. I am confident that your impressive qualities of leadership will insure positive Cabinet approval of the proposals that you will put before them. I look forward to seeing you and President Sadat soon in Washington.

With my best personal regards.

Jimmy Carter
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Bureau of Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, Files of Alfred L. Atherton, Lot 80D166, Box 8, Pre-Signing Negotiations: Cairo, Tel Aviv, Washington, & New York 3/20–26/79. Secret; Nodis. Sent for information to the Department of State and the White House Situation Room. The telegram is not numbered.
  2. Lewis delivered the letter to Begin on the morning of March 14. (Telegram 5154 from Tel Aviv, March 15; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P850050–2668)
  3. See Document 202.