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


  • Israel

Several items:

Aid. Strauss called, and asked that I pass along to you his hope that you will strongly oppose any cuts for Israel in the budget review. (C)

Aid II. In trying to protect against cuts in security assistance, it has occurred to me that we “can’t beat something with nothing”—i.e. ask the President to make no cuts in this area when most of the rest of the budget is being cut. You will recall my earlier idea that we try get[Page 1112]ting Congress (e.g. Sam Nunn) to consider security assistance (especially for the new Gulf strategy) against the extra 2% in the budget for DoD. This might be the way to “square the circle,” by matching potential cuts in security assistance against actual reductions in increases in the military budget—thus giving us the best mix of increased security without seeming to weaken in our resolve to strengthen defense and U.S. security. Since this could be couched in terms of not cutting funds for Egypt, and especially for Israel, it could get strong reasonance on the Hill provided careful consultations are carried out. I talked to Nimetz about it, who likes the idea. If you do, you might inject it into the discussions with the President. (C)

Oil. Energy Minister Modai has asked to come here next week to see Vance and Duncan, to 1) activate the U.S. oil supply commitment and 2) ask for money to build underground oil storage facilities, as promised by Kissinger but never followed up. The consensus is that this is a poor time for the activation of the agreement (the need is simply not there; and diverting U.S. oil would play very badly here). This could become a major issue with the Israelis if not played right. I have alerted Ed Fried, and Hinton is holding a meeting this afternoon. The object is to turn off the visit, without letting the Israelis claim that we are not standing behind the oil agreement. Strauss is speaking to Eppy about it. I will come back to you for clearance of any cable coming out of today’s meeting.2 (S)

SFM. State has promised a draft cable3 to Lewis this afternoon for our clearance (I will run it by you). I have asked Saunders to throw the ball back into the Israeli/Egyptian court—i.e. we are prepared to in[Page 1113]spect anytime, but it is up to them to tell us when, since they are the ones who have held up completion of the basic Sinai agreement. (S)

NAAA. The National Association of Arab Americans wants to see the President to hear his story on the resolution. I am telling the schedulers not to consider it. Strauss and Clift both say that receiving this group is not the way to turn the issue off. (C)

Rabbi Goren. Bentsur passed a message to me from Eppy (originating with Begin), asking for the President to receive Israeli Chief Rabbi Goren, who is in this country. Yet I was told informally they don’t really mean it: the last time Goren saw the President, he had unhelpful things to say afterwards, but Goren leaned on Begin to make the request. Better, Bentsur said, that he see the Vice President in a low-key matter (and I will check to see whether there is any interest). As I pointed out to Bentsur, this is a hell of a box for them to try putting us in: if the meeting takes place, we gain little or nothing in terms of improving relations; if we turn it down, someone will squawk. OK to handle this through the VP, if he’s willing?4 (S)

Jerusalem/Strauss. Strauss called with another idea, which he has discussed with Solarz5 and will discuss with Vance. He would like someone (perhaps even the President) to be in a position to say for New York:

“While the ultimate status of Jerusalem remains to be resolved in negotiations between Israel and its Arab neighbors, we believe that, in the context of a final settlement, Jerusalem should and will remain undivided, and should and will be (remain) the capital of Israel.”6

Clearly, only the last clause raises a question—and Strauss says that maybe the words “should” could be dropped. I have not reached Saunders yet on this and will let you know his reaction. Strauss will welcome yours—and would like to have this decided as soon as possible. (S)

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Middle East, Subject File, Box 51, Israel: 3–4/80. Secret; Outside the System. Sent for action. A stamped notation in the upper right-hand corner reads: “ZB has seen.”
  2. In the left-hand margin next to this paragraph, Brzezinski wrote: “separate memo.” A separate memorandum on Israeli oil was prepared by Hunter and sent to Brzezinski on March 7. Hunter informed Brzezinski that Modai told the Embassy in Tel Aviv that he was coming next week and “could not be talked out of it.” “This,” he observed, “could have serious consequences—especially in the ‘honoring of commitments’ vein. We would honor it, though our terms and conditions would appear to be onerous to the Israelis, and would themselves result in a squabble.” Hunter reported, following Hinton’s meeting (talking points from which are attached to the memorandum), “our consensus is that quiet but firm efforts should be made at least to delay this visit for a significant period of time.” In the upper right-hand corner of the memorandum, Brzezinski wrote: “Vance will talk to Evron. ZB.” (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 36, Israel: 3/1–15/80)
  3. Reference is presumably to telegram 63446 to Tel Aviv and Cairo, March 8. In this message to Lewis, Vance stated that “we concur with you that it is important that SFM begin inspecting as soon as possible. If that is not possible because of objections by one side or the other, then U.S. intentions should be made clear and responsibility for delay firmly placed on the local parties. We should seek to begin SFM inspections on the basis of the articles already agreed while continuing to press for resolution of the remaining issues.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P880145–2249) The final protocol establishing the multinational peacekeeping force in the Sinai would not be signed by Egypt and Israel until August 3, 1981.
  4. In the right-hand margin next to this paragraph, Brzezinski wrote: “agree.”
  5. Representative Stephen J. Solarz (D-New York)
  6. Brzezinski circled the last clause of this sentence and wrote in the right-hand margin next to it, “Are you recommending this? Is this in Camp David?”