344. Memorandum From Robert Hunter of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski)1


  • UN Settlements Resolution: VBB (U)

Following a Vance-McHenry meeting this morning,2 the issue of our vote on the UN settlements resolution3 has now come immediately to the fore. (C)

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The text in play has some objectional provisions that USUN believes it can get out. The one element that it judges cannot be got out is the continuation of the Settlements Commission. Reportedly, it is Cy’s judgment that we have in effect committed ourselves to the Israelis not to vote “yes” on a resolution that contains such a provision (“We would do what we could do . . . to get rid of the Settlements Commission”—Tab I).4 (C)

State canvassed the possibility of a delay in the vote from Friday5 until Monday,6 in order to see what decision the Israeli Cabinet takes on Sunday about Hebron settlements.7 McHenry said a postponement is not possible; working levels at State think an effort should be made anyway. (C)

Vance is reportedly going to raise the issue with the President today,8 noting his own view that we should abstain (with the Commission language in), and McHenry’s view that we should vote yes. (State working level believes the best outcome would be to try getting a postponement, then either abstain or vote yes depending on what the Israeli Cabinet does on Sunday. However, they judge that there is little [Page 1106] point in going to the Israelis to make this a quid pro quo matter: it would have little impact on them). (C)

My judgment is that we should:

—try for a postponement of the vote until Monday;

—failing that, abstain tomorrow, with a very strong statement on settlements and explaining our opposition to the commission provision; and

—go to the Israelis and explain that position, stressing hard the importance that the Cabinet reject the Hebron settlements on Sunday. (C)

I recommend that you raise this with Vance at the VBB,9 today. (U)

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Middle East, Subject File, Box 55, Israel: Settlements: 7/79–7/80. Confidential. Sent for action.
  2. A record of this meeting has not been found.
  3. The proposed draft resolution (S/13827), drawing upon the reports of the United Nations Security Council Commission created on March 22, 1979, to examine Israeli settlements in the territories occupied in the 1967 war (see footnote 2, Document 273), condemned Israel’s refusal to cooperate with the Security Council Commission, requested that the Commission continue its work, and called upon it to “dismantle the settlements in the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, and to cease the establishment and planning of new ones.” (Yearbook of the United Nations, 1980, pp. 409 and 426–427)
  4. Tab I, attached but not printed, is telegram 3423 from Tel Aviv, February 21. The telegram related a February 21 conversation between Lewis and Evron in which the former outlined the U.S. position on the Security Council’s consideration of the settlements issue. In response to Evron’s statement that he had raised the issue of the U.S. position “at least five different times” without response, a situation which made Begin “suspicious” of U.S. intentions, Lewis pointed out that McHenry had consistently “made clear our opposition to continuing the settlements commission.” In spite of McHenry’s pessimism that “even with our opposition it would be possible to preclude continuation of the commission’s life,” given Israel’s announced intention to allow Jewish settlement in the city of Hebron, Lewis stated, the United States “would do what we could to achieve what Israel has consistently asked us to do: i.e., get rid of the settlements commission as part of whatever outcome is produced by the Council meeting” on March 1. (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Middle East, Subject File, Box 55, Israel: Settlements: 7/79–7/80)
  5. February 29.
  6. March 3.
  7. See Document 338. Following a February 13 request from Vance to Begin, the Israeli Cabinet postponed a formal decision on the future of Jewish settlement in Hebron on February 17. The text of Vance’s oral message was conveyed to Lewis in telegram 39284 to Tel Aviv, February 13. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P880145–0518) The Israeli Embassy conveyed Begin’s formal response to Vance’s message, which explained the Cabinet’s decision, on February 18. The Department of State transmitted the text of this reply in telegram 44424 to Tel Aviv, February 18. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P880145–0456)
  8. No record of a February 28 conversation between Vance and Carter on this issue has been found.
  9. No memorandum of conversation for the VBB meeting has been found. However, a February 28 memorandum from Brzezinski to Aaron and Denend, listing the decisions taken at the meeting, stated that the participants decided the United States would abstain in the U.N. vote on settlements. (Carter Library, Brzezinski Donated Material, Subject File, Box 34, Meetings—Vance/Brown/Brzezinski: 1/80–2/80)