233. Letter From Egyptian Prime Minister Khalil to Secretary of State Vance1

Dear Secretary Vance:

It was with great surprise that we learned today of the proposed Memorandum of Agreement2 between the United States and Israel in connection with The Treaty of Peace between Egypt and Israel. We were never consulted on the substance of the proposed Memorandum which directly affects our position with respect to the implementation of the Treaty.

The content of the draft Memorandum is a source of grave concern to the Government of Egypt. At this critical juncture in the peace-making process, when Egypt has clearly, and with firm determination, opted for peace, the draft Memorandum presumes that Egypt’s compliance with its obligations is in doubt. Such an assumption is completely unfounded. It, moreover, contravenes the provisions of Article VI, para. 2, which stipulates that the Parties undertake to fulfill in good faith their obligations under the Treaty.

I trust that you would agree that this new definition of the United States role constitutes a departure from our understanding of that role as a full partner and not as an arbiter. It also constitutes a distortion of that role in the eyes of others.

The United States assumed for herself the role of the arbiter in determining that there has been a violation or threat of violation of the Treaty. I wish to state that the Treaty provides for settlement of disputes procedured in Article VII. This equal right to have recourse to the procedure specified in the Treaty ensures that the balance of corresponding obligations will be maintained. The proposed Memorandum therefore constitutes a prejudgment of the outcome of future disputes, a matter which, in point of fact, amounts to negating the existence of an article on dispute settlement.

In addition, you have given Israel a commitment to take such remedial measures and to provide appropriate support for proper actions taken by Israel in response to violations of the Treaty. We consider such a commitment exceedingly dangerous as it binds the United States to acquiesce to action taken by Israel, however arbitrary under the pretext that certain violations have taken place.

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We oppose any attempt to tamper with the positions of the parties to the Treaty by putting emphasis on the security of Israel with apparent disregard to the manifold elements contained in the Treaty.

We equally oppose the attempt to put emphasis on certain rights as navigation and overflight with total negation of the rights of the other party.

The draft Memorandum also refers to the action the United States would take in the event of an armed attack on Israel. We consider this concept both inappropriate and untimely as it comes with the signing of the Peace Treaty.

Furthermore, the letter3 addressed to the Prime Minister of Israel on March 26, 1979, by the President of the United States stipulates that: “In the event of an actual or threatened violation of the Treaty of Peace between Israel and Egypt, the United States will, on request of one or both of the Parties, consult with the Parties with respect thereto and will take such other action as it may deem appropriate and helpful to achieve compliance with the Treaty.”

The Government of Egypt therefore reiterates that the concept and orientation of the proposed Memorandum is detrimental to the peace process.

Needless to say that Egypt does not consider itself bound by that Memorandum or whatever commitments to which it was not a party or on which it was not consulted.

Mostafa Khalil
  1. Source: Department of State, Office of the Secretariat Staff, Cyrus R. Vance, Secretary of State—1977–1980, Lot 84D241, Box 5, Middle East Peace Treaty—1979. No classification marking. Printed from a copy delivered by the Egyptian Embassy in Washington.
  2. See Document 232.
  3. See Document 236.