266. Memorandum From the President’s Senior Adviser on Middle East Affairs (Sanders) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski)1


  • Israeli Settlement Activity

I am aware of the seriousness with which the President views the recent Israeli settlement activity at Alon Moreh2 and I know that he is considering various options. I am writing this memo to voice my opinion that the best way to handle this problem is to continue a low-key approach.

It is my view that both in Israel and in the United States there is a serious debate going on concerning the propriety of settlements such as Alon Moreh (see attached Jerusalem Post editorial)3 and that the natural evolution of such a debate will result in a policy more to our liking.

I believe that the interjection of a U.S. program to pressure Israel to change its policy would be counterproductive. It would unify Israel and the American Jewish community, and I believe, recreate a situation of the type that existed in 1977 (Joint US–USSR Communique) and December 1978 (Administration’s statements taken to indicate tilt toward Egypt). Such a policy, I believe, would have a materially adverse effect on the peace process.

The consequences of such a policy could be an Israeli response designed to resist US pressure and demonstrate independence, and we might be in the position of losing credibility with both Israel and the Arabs. We would be seen as setting a precedent for pressure to be applied to Israel at every critical point in the negotiations.

I do not believe that we should interfere with the healthy debate going on in Israel and in the American Jewish community. Our interference will only boomerang.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 36, Israel: 5–11/79. No classification marking. At the top of the memorandum, Brzezinski wrote: “Cy FYI Zbig.
  2. See footnote 4, Document 259.
  3. Not found attached.