26. Editorial Note
President Jimmy Carter travelled to the Presidential retreat at Camp David shortly after noon on September 4, 1978, to complete his preparations for the summit meeting with Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin scheduled to begin the following day. (Carter Library, Presidential Materials, President’s Daily Diary) Describing the day in his personal diary, Carter wrote: “This was a hurried morning, with everybody wanting to give me last-minute advice or information about the summit.” Upon arriving at Camp David, Carter spent the rest of the day “studying the voluminous notes, maps, past history of negotiations, [and] psychological assessments of Begin and Sadat.” (Carter, White House Diary, page 216) As part of his preparations, he drafted a list of the themes and issues which the summit would have to confront. For the text of this note, see Document 27. Recalling the final pre-summit preparations years later, both Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance and the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs Zbigniew Brzezinski reflected on the importance of the forthcoming negotiations for Carter’s admin[Page 79]istration and the summit’s prospects for success. Writing in his memoirs, Vance noted: “Not since Theodore Roosevelt mediated the treaty negotiated in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, that ended the Russo-Japanese War had an American president even approached what Jimmy Carter was about to attempt.” (Vance, Hard Choices, page 218) Brzezinski recorded that “on the eve of the summit, Carter confided to me for the first time his sense of uneasiness about the prospects for success.” (Brzezinski, Power and Principle, page 254) Of his own impressions of the summit on the eve of Begin’s and Sadat’s arrival at Camp David, Carter wrote: “Despite my efforts to the contrary, expectations had built up to a fever pitch. My only hope was that, in the quiet and peaceful atmosphere of our temporary home, both Begin and Sadat would come to know and understand each other better, and that they would trust me to be honest and fair in my role as mediator and active negotiator. It was soon to be obvious that Sadat seemed to trust me too much, and Begin not enough.” (Carter, Keeping Faith, page 322)
Over the course of the entire thirteen days of the Camp David Summit, the United States delegation was organized into two “mutually reinforcing” teams: one, “political” and the other, a “group of experts.” (Vance, Hard Choices, page 219) The political team consisted of Carter, Brzezinski, Vance, White House Press Spokesman Jody Powell, Presidential Adviser Hamilton Jordan, and, occasionally, Vice President Walter Mondale and Secretary of Defense Harold Brown. The team of experts, who met under Vance’s direction, was composed of Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs Harold H. Saunders, Ambassador-at-Large Alfred L. Atherton, Ambassador to Egypt Hermann F. Eilts, Ambassador to Israel Samuel W. Lewis, and William B. Quandt, the member of the National Security Council Staff responsible for Arab-Israeli issues. On this arrangement, Vance wrote: “These two groups worked in the closest harmony. The political group negotiated with the Egyptian and Israeli senior political figures, while the professional group maintained contact with the Egyptian and Israeli teams and provided expert advice, analyses of the sides’ positions as they evolved, and draft formulations to bridge the differences.” (Ibid.) The President’s Daily Diary recorded numerous internal meetings of the U.S. delegation during the summit in which President Carter participated. (Carter Library, Presidential Materials) No memoranda of conversation or official records of the substance of these conversations, or indeed any of the internal discussions of the U.S. delegation, have been found.
This dearth of official documentation also extends to the negotiations themselves and reflects the idiosyncratic recordkeeping of the U.S. delegation at Camp David. Examining the documentation relating to the Camp David Summit printed in this volume, the reader will [Page 80]quickly note significant gaps in the official record, especially the absence of memoranda of conversation from the numerous, often lengthy meetings that Carter held with the Egyptian and Israeli delegations. The President’s Daily Diary records the specific dates and times of each of the meetings that Carter held between the opening of the summit on September 5 and its conclusion on September 17. In addition, each Daily Diary entry contains a list of that meeting’s participants. The most complete official record of the meetings held between the U.S., Egyptian, and Israeli delegations at Camp David is in a draft summary document produced by the National Security Council Staff. This summary provides the dates, times, and locations of each meeting held by the United States with Egyptian and Israeli officials, along with lists of participants and brief synopses of the meetings’ substance. For the text of this summary, see Document 28. The reader should note that this volume includes all memoranda of conversation that have been found in U.S. Government archives.
In his subsequent writings on the Camp David Summit, Carter has highlighted his own personal note-taking and its importance not only for the historical record, but also for the work of the U.S. delegation during the negotiations. As part of his introduction to the summit in the published version of his personal diary, the President wrote that he “kept detailed written notes during all the discussions at Camp David (September 5 to 17), and from them I dictated entries in my diary a couple of times a day. Many of the scratched notes are available to scholars in the Carter Presidential Library.” (Carter, White House Diary, page 216) These notes, along with multiple annotated drafts of the two “framework” documents, “A Framework for Peace in the Middle East Agreed at Camp David” and “Framework for the Conclusion of a Peace Treaty Between Egypt and Israel,” which in part formed the basis for the summit negotiations, were collected into a “working papers” file in Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 53, Middle East: Camp David President’s Working Papers, undated, and Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 53, Middle East: Camp David President’s Working Papers, 9/10–27/78. Also in the working paper folder is an undated, unsigned note accompanying the paper collection which states: “These papers need to be classified (or destroyed). Susan Clough says the President wants them ‘sealed’ for a very long time.” (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 53, Middle East: Camp David President’s Working Papers, undated) Carter added in his memoirs that following each negotiating session he “immediately dictated a complete record of the discussion from my written notes, which my secretary transcribed. Cy [Vance], Zbig [Brzezinski], Fritz [Mondale], Ham [Jordan], or Jody [Powell] read the one original copy that was made; then it was returned to me.” (Carter, [Page 81]Keeping Faith, page 327) These copies of Carter’s notes, as presumably presented to other members of the U.S. delegation, have not been found.
This volume also makes use of notes and documents used by other members of the U.S. delegation as much as possible. A small collection of notes kept by U.S. Ambassador to Israel Samuel W. Lewis are printed as Documents 38, 39, 52, 53, 55, and 56. Moreover, Lewis maintained a file in which he preserved the successive drafts of the Framework documents negotiated at the summit. These documents, many of which bear Lewis’s handwritten annotations, are in the Department of State, American Embassy Tel Aviv, Principal Officer Program Files, Lot 85F104, Box 1, A Framework for Peace in the Middle East Agreed at Camp David—Various Drafts—September.
Given the limitations of the official documentary record, this volume’s account of the U.S. policy making process during the Camp David Summit must be read in conjunction with available memoirs and published diaries, which have been based largely upon the personal notes of the respective authors. President Carter presents a day-by-day reconstruction of the summit on pages 216–245 of his published personal diary, titled White House Diary, and in his memoirs, Keeping Faith, on pages 327–403. Brzezinski presents the summit in a similar day-by-day style in his memoirs, Power and Principle, on pages 255–270. Vance’s account of the negotiations is in Hard Choices, pages 218–229. Quandt’s viewpoint is represented in his account, which is part memoir and part scholarly study of the events, entitled Camp David: Peacemaking and Politics. For the Egyptian perspective of the summit, see Foreign Minister Muhammed Ibrahim Kamel’s memoir of the summit, titled The Camp David Accords, and Minister of State Boutros Boutros-Ghali’s Egypt’s Road to Jerusalem, pages 132–152. On the Israeli side, see Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan’s Breakthrough, pages 149–190, and Defense Minister Ezer Weizman’s The Battle for Peace, pages 340–377.