8. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Israel1

204867. For Ambassadors Lewis and Eilts from Saunders. Subject: Message to Begin on Israeli Settlements. Ref: Cairo 18867.2

[Page 25]1. For Lewis. Secretary has asked me to send you the following text of a message from him to Prime Minister Begin.3 Begin text:

Dear Mr. Prime Minister:

We have just heard of the rumored plan to establish five new settlements on the West Bank. As you will remember after the historic steps of last fall, a principal reason the peace negotiations very soon ran into trouble was the action taken with respect to settlements. I am deeply concerned, and urge you not to take any step which would undermine the Camp David meetings or subsequent peace negotiations.

Please inform me directly what your plans are so that I can help to ease the concern being expressed here and in Egypt. End text.

2. In passing this on, you may relate it to the Secretary’s conversations with Begin and Sadat4 on cooling the rhetoric before the Camp David meetings. The text of the message gives you a peg on which to hand [hang?] this point.

3. For Eilts. We are providing you with the text of the Secretary’s message to Begin only for your background so you will have the flavor of it. However, the Secretary has asked that you get word to Kamel that, as we understand it, no Israeli Cabinet action has been taken on new settlements, but we have been in touch urgently with the Israeli Government and are awaiting their response. We will say this publicly and will also state that our position on settlements remains unchanged. Secretary, as of this moment, plans to make this statement himself when he faces the microphones following his closed session with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this morning (Monday).

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840140–2296. Secret; Flash; Nodis. Drafted by Saunders; cleared by Stanislaus R.P. Valerga (S/S–O); approved by Saunders. Sent for information Immediate to Cairo.
  2. In telegram 18867 from Cairo, August 14, the Embassy reported on a conversation between Eilts and Egyptian Ministry of Information Under Secretary Mursi Saad El-Din in which the latter responded to Eilts’ request to “lower” the public media rhetoric vis-à-vis the Israeli Government in advance of the Camp David Summit. Saad El-Din pointed out that an Israeli Cabinet announcement of August 13—which stated that Israel intended to establish five new West Bank settlements—caused “embarrassment for Sadat.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P850067–2078) Details of the decision to establish five nahal settlements in the Jordan River valley, made in secret by the Israeli Ministerial Committee on Security Affairs in June, are in telegram 10343 from Tel Aviv, August 13. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780331–0595)
  3. In telegram 10411 from Tel Aviv, August 15, Lewis stated that Vance’s message was delivered to Evron on August 14 for delivery to Begin. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840137–1595)
  4. See footnote 4, Document 5.