308. Memorandum From the Special Adviser to the Secretary of State for Middle East Affairs (Sanders) to Secretary of State Vance1


  • General Assembly Resolutions on Israeli Settlements

In casting our votes, I feel that we should be mindful of the strong possibility that the Israeli 1978 reaction to our vote may not be an accurate barometer of their 1979 response.

It is important to remember that the domestic political situation in Israel today is extremely delicate—unlike a year ago—and that the fact that Israel raised few objections last year to these resolutions does not mean that they will not become the subject of heated debate this year.

In voting for these resolutions, there are several things that we do not want to accomplish. We do not want to put the Israeli Government in a position where it will be forced to increase settlement activity. We do not wish to jeopardize the orderly conduct of the autonomy negotiations. We do not want to make it more difficult for Cabinet moderates and the Labor Party to oppose settlements. And we do not want to further erode Israeli trust of the U.S. at a moment when Israel is particularly uneasy about our commitment in general terms and on specifics like aid and US–PLO ties.

Accordingly, I recommend that if we maintain our 1978 position, we first explain to the Israelis in New York and in Jerusalem that we are merely reaffirming prior US positions and not going beyond them. Moreover, I believe that we should take a low-key approach to these resolutions both here and in New York. We should avoid citing domestic Israeli developments (such as the Elon Moreh decision)2 which might hinder debate within Israel. Finally, we should not support any resolution at the General Assembly or the Security Council which substantively alters our current position.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Middle East, Subject File, Box 50, Israel: 11/79. Secret. Copies of the memorandum were sent to Maynes, Saunders, and Hunter.
  2. See footnote 4, Document 259.