375. Telegram From the Department of State to Multiple Posts1

131748. Athens and Muscat for Ambassador Habib. Subject: May 26 and Beyond in the Autonomy Talks.

1. (S) Entire text.

2. Consultations here in which Ambassadors Atherton and Lewis participated,2 following Ambassador Linowitz’s most recent round of [Page 1251] negotiations in Herzlia,3 have led to a number of conclusions about the situation we face and the manner in which we should proceed through May 26 and beyond. In essence we believe that the negotiations are beginning to cut into the tough issues and while clearly there is little hope of concluding an agreement by May 26, we have concluded the negotiations should be pursued as intensively as possible until an agreement is reached. We recognize this may take some time and that in the meantime we will face a problem in maintaining credibility on the part of the Arabs and Europeans in the efficacy of our approach. With respect to the latter, the Secretary in his trip to Europe4 has begun to set forth the rationale for our approach and to make it clear that we consider it essential that the Europeans take no action that would make these negotiations more difficult. In one forum or another we will also begin to put out a public line that affirms our determination to pursue these negotiations until an autonomy agreement is reached and expresses confidence in the Camp David process as the only practical way to proceed toward a peace settlement.

3. With respect to the Arabs, we recognize there is little that we can do to influence the radical Arabs in any event. But we do want to keep in close touch with the moderate Arabs, and in particular to convey a signal to the Saudis and Jordanians at an early stage as to how we intend to proceed. In using the points below we want to give you maximum flexibility to adapt your presentation to your various interlocutors; the important thing is to get our message across as effectively as possible to the key officials in your host governments over the days ahead. We want to avoid appearing to be defensive. We do not think the Arabs (or Europeans) are going to have an easy time putting together an alternative strategy and we believe it will help to keep momentum from building in this direction if we project confidence in our own game plan.

4. Begin talking points:

—After a thorough review of the results of the recent Herzlia Round of negotiations and the overall status of the talks, we are convinced that, while agreement obviously cannot be reached by May 26, the negotiations should continue at as intense a pace as possible in the weeks ahead.

—It would of course have been ideal if the date set as a goal by the two parties could have been met. However, these are unprecedented negotiations in terms of their complexity and their objective, and it is [Page 1252] hardly surprising that it has not been possible to conclude them in 12 months. We have had targets before that have been exceeded, but it is the ultimate success of the outcome and not meeting the target date that is important.

—What is important today is that serious negotiations are underway, and that we believe they are getting somewhere. The experience at Herzlia of engaging both Ministers and working groups simultaneously permitted the parties to begin grappling with some of the central issues for the first time.

—Ambassador Linowitz had to handle a tough confrontation over the security issue at Herzlia. But at the same time much valuable work was accomplished. We have now put forward our suggestions on most of the issues and these are being considered carefully by the two sides. There is a much closer common concept of what kind of document we should aim for as the outcome of negotiations than there was even a month ago. We are moving steadily toward getting both sides to accept a single text as the basis for negotiations.

—It is our intention to pursue these negotiations as vigorously as possible until an agreement is reached. We will play our role as “full partner” and will both put forward our own suggestions as we consider appropriate and intervene to break deadlocks to move the process forward. We are not interested in achieving an incomplete or inadequate agreement within some arbitrary time limit. We are determined to get a meaningful agreement on autonomy and will extend the negotiations if necessary to achieve it.

—There is already agreement on a significant list of functions to be transferred fully to the Palestinian self-governing authority. The two sides are now grappling with the remaining core issues: arrangements for control over land; the principles to govern an equitable allocation of water; designing arrangements that will fully assure Israel’s security while giving the Palestinian authority an appropriate role in security functions; arrangements in the economic sphere; voting rights for the East Jerusalem Arabs. These will be tough issues to resolve but we believe it can be done with patience and determination.

—The President remains convinced that Resolution 242 and the Camp David Framework offer the only practical way of building toward a comprehensive peace. He is determined to see this process through to success.

—The President has asked Secretary Muskie and Ambassador Linowitz to outline to key European leaders the progress made to date in these talks and to stress the complexities of the issues which can only be ultimately resolved by tenacious attention to the negotiating process itself in the months ahead. We will make clear to the Europeans that we [Page 1253] see no virtue in any alternate negotiating forum so long as serious negotiations are underway and both sides want them to continue.

—With respect to the present “postponement” in the negotiations that Sadat has brought about, the Egyptians are clearly upset by certain actions the Israelis have taken, but they assure us that they have no intention of breaking off the negotiations. We are in touch with both sides and are urging a resumption of the negotiations at an early date. We can understand the frustrations which each side periodically feels but past experience has shown that a tenacious application to the negotiating process is the best way ultimately to resolve the issues.

5. In making these points, we would like you to find the occasion to place them in the context of the President’s desire to maintain strong and close relations with your respective host countries. We want to continue our dialogue on the peace process, and we hope both governments will agree with our view that it is of utmost importance to do this in a manner which preserves our overall cooperation for the vital strategic objectives we share.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Middle East, Subject File, Box 5, Autonomy Talks: 4–5/80. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Sent Niact Immediate to Athens. Sent Immediate to Amman, Jidda, Rabat, Algiers, Tunis, Sana, Beirut, Damascus, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Manama, Muscat, Khartoum, and the White House. Sent for information Immediate to Baghdad, Cairo, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and USUN. Printed from a copy that indicates the original was received in the White House Situation Room. Drafted by Sterner; cleared by Saunders, Hunter, Jane E. Taylor (S/S–O); approved by Constable. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P870143–0939)
  2. See footnote 2, Document 370.
  3. See Document 368.
  4. Muskie attended the NATO Defense Planning Committee meeting in Brussels May 13–15 and the ceremonies for the 25th anniversary of the Austrian State Treaty in Vienna May 15–16.