54. Note Prepared by President Carter1

Settlements in West Bank and Gaza

Late in the evening, Saturday, September 16, 1978, Prime Minister Begin, Foreign Minister Dayan, Attorney General Barak, Secretary Vance and I were concluding discussions on the final wording of the section on the West Bank and Gaza.2

Section 6 referred to the Israeli settlements, and as drafted in the American proposal, stated:

“6. After the signing of this framework and during the negotiations, no new Israeli settlements will be established and there will be no expansion of physical facilities in existing settlements unless otherwise agreed by the parties.”

Prime Minister Begin objected to this language, and began to make several alternate proposals. They included: (a) a fixed time (three months) during which no new settlements would be constructed; (b) prohibitions against civilian settlements only; (c) right to build a limited number of new settlements; etc. All of these proposals were rejected by me.

Finally, we agreed on the exact language concerning the settlements, and that the paragraph would be removed from the West Bank-Gaza section and included in a letter from Begin to me. I told him it could not be a secret letter and the Prime Minister replied that the text would be made public.

The agreed text was:

[Page 201]“After the signing of this framework and during the negotiations, no new Israeli settlements will be established in this area. The issue of future Israeli settlements will be decided and agreed among the negotiating parties.”

It was clear and obvious that the “negotiations” applied to the West Bank and Gaza.

Early the next day I informed President Sadat of the agreement.3

On Sunday afternoon4 Mr. Barak brought to me from Prime Minister Begin a proposed text which differed substantially from that on which we had agreed. I informed him that it was unsatisfactory, and read to him the text on which we had agreed, which was still lying on my desk. He did not disagree with the agreed text.

Jimmy Carter
  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 53, Middle East: Camp David President’s Working Papers, 9/10–27/78. No classification marking. Carter wrote in the upper right-hand corner of the document, “OK. J.” A draft version of the note, in Carter’s handwriting, is ibid. The note was found attached to an undated note by Clough, stating that Carter signed the note September 20 and that copies were sent to Begin, the Department of State, the NSC, and Powell.
  2. According to the President’s Daily Diary, Carter, along with Vance and “other U.S. officials” met with Begin, Dayan, and Barak at Aspen Lodge from 8 p.m., September 16, to 12:20 a.m., September 17. (Carter Library, Presidential Materials) For Carter’s accounts of this meeting, see White House Diary, p. 240, and Keeping Faith, pp. 395–397. For Vance’s account, see Hard Choices, pp. 224–225. For Dayan’s account, see Breakthrough, pp. 181–186. Quandt wrote that Vance briefed the U.S. negotiating team (including himself) “immediately after” the meeting had broken up. Quandt described this briefing in Camp David, pp. 249–250, although he concluded “exactly what took place in the meeting between Carter and Begin on Saturday night will never be known.”
  3. In his personal diary, Carter wrote of this meeting: “Sunday morning I went to discuss the final draft of the Sinai agreement with Sadat. He does not want to meet in El Arish as long as it is under Israeli control. He was pleased with the submission of the settlement question to the Knesset prior to negotiations. He said that he would make these concessions, as he calls them, only if the Palestinians can participate in negotiations on the Israeli-Jordanian treaty, and he would like to delete the entire paragraph on Jerusalem!” (Carter, White House Diary, p. 241) Also see Carter, Keeping Faith, pp. 397–398. Following this meeting, Carter wrote, he redrafted all language in the Framework documents “to incorporate what I thought would be acceptable to the two delegations, and then walked down to Holly [Cabin], where Vance and our team were meeting with Dayan and the other Israelis. I called Dayan out, went over my suggested compromise language, and asked him to help me during these final hours and with the Knesset when the time came for a vote. Dayan said that he was absolutely certain the parliament would never vote for a withdrawal of settlers prior to negotiation of an Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty.” (Carter, Keeping Faith, p. 398) Following this, a further dispute emerged in which Begin objected to the U.S. draft letter to Sadat, outlining the U.S. position on Jerusalem. In a “very unpleasant session,” Carter met with Dayan, Weizman, Barak, Mondale, Vance, and Brzezinski, and offered to revise the letter, striking out quotations from U.S. representatives made at the UN on the subject of Jerusalem. (Carter, Keeping Faith, pp. 398–399)
  4. See Document 51.