81. Memorandum From the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Crawford) to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Sterner), the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Draper), and the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Saunders)1

At 1:00 p.m. Friday2 I accompanied Mr. Christopher to Brzezinski’s meeting on the coming Egypt-Israel negotiation. The meeting [Page 292]lasted about 25 minutes. Only Bill Quandt and David Aaron were present.

Highlights: Brzezinski focused immediately on the essentiality of using the Israel-Egypt treaty negotiation to make progress on elements of the other framework, although he recognized this might carry us only so far on the latter if Egypt wanted to wrap up its peace and didn’t really worry about more than a fig leaf for the other. In this context, Brzezinski said what is lacking is contact with Palestinians. If we are to be talking about questions of interest to them as an adjunct of the coming negotiation, we should/must be in touch with them, and quickly. I said this is very much in our minds and a paper3 is being developed for the White House which sets out alternative levels of relationship ranging from what we have now at one end of the spectrum, to direct discussion with the PLO at the other, but several in-betweens. Brzezinski said he would like to see this paper soonest. I ventured our thought about bringing Walid Khalidi to Washington and sketched out how this might be done. (HHS: See attached4 which Mike and Morrie already have). Brzezinski commented that he liked Khalidi and twice said, “Fine, that is a good approach.” Comment: in the context of other remarks by Brzezinski, I think we now have a green light on the Khalidi idea which does not exclude other approaches as well as they will be outlined in the paper we send forward. End Comment.

Brzezinski asked who would handle the side negotiation on the West Bank framework with the Israelis (which he thought the President should open as soon as Dayan comes to Washington), the Egyptians and Palestinians. He emphasized twice that State should handle diplomatic relationships with the Palestinians as contacts by the White House had a difficult domestic dimension. Quandt and I said you had hoped to hold yourself available for the side of the coming negotiation dealing with that Framework and Brzezinski said that was fine. Quandt said that in discussions with Palestinians, such as Khalidi he would like to share the responsibility with you. Brzezinski didn’t exactly demur but emphasized that White House officials should in general steer clear of Palestinian contacts; it “should be a diplomatic responsibility.”

[Page 293]After discussion, Brzezinski outlined a memo5 which he asked Quandt to prepare to be ready for the President by no later than Monday6 night. This is to contain our strategy for the negotiation with much fuller emphasis on how we bring in the West Bank/Gaza framework and engage the Palestinians, the latter in a way that “doesn’t blow the Israelis right out of the negotiation.” Quandt will do a first draft as directed by Brzezinski and bring it to the meeting7 scheduled with all of you for 11:00 Saturday.

Brzezinski noted that Sanders had announced at a breakfaster with the press that the question of an exchange of letters with the Israelis on settlements is dead. He asked if this were true and answered his own question aloud by saying Begin seems to understand that if he sends us a letter, we will send ours and it will be much stronger than he wants. We may be alright if Dayan confirms to us that he will hold to the public statements he made following his return to Jerusalem after Camp David. If we can trust the Israelis, “those are good enough.”

Brzezinski thought we should not say anything about Blair House8 until we have the President’s approval. He is going to Camp David (2:00 p.m. Friday and will not be back until Monday night). The issue can wait until then. Pending the President’s decision, Blair House should not be mentioned in telegrams. The Egyptians and Israelis have no need to know just now; it is sufficient that we have invited them to a site in Washington.

There was agreement that Murray could best represent DOD on the U.S. delegation and that Lawrence would be available in a supportive, more technical role.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Bureau of Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, Files of Alfred L. Atherton, Lot 80D166, Box 6, Post Camp David Papers. No classification marking. Copies were sent to Korn and Staff Assistants.
  2. October 6.
  3. Not found.
  4. Document not attached and not found.
  5. Quandt and Saunders drafted the memorandum, “Launching West Bank/Gaza Negotiations: A Proposed Course of Action,” on October 9. The paper set out four main objectives for U.S. policy: 1) “to continue developing the concept of the Palestinian self-governing authority;” 2) “to explore concrete proposals for engaging some moderate Palestinians and the Jordanians if possible” in negotiating an agreement that will “call elections and establish the self-governing authority; 3) “to persuade the Saudis and a cluster of moderate Arabs that we have created an opportunity for a Palestinian solution that they cannot afford to dismiss;” and 4) “to persuade the Israelis” to “move quickly and dramatically to demonstrate that they are prepared to live at peace with Palestinian neighbors who genuinely govern themselves” and that “we will work with them to assure enough controls through the transitional period so that there will be no threat to Israel’s security.” (Department of State, Office of the Secretariat Staff, Cyrus R. Vance, Secretary of State—1977–1980, Lot 84D241, Box 4, unlabeled folder)
  6. October 9.
  7. No record of this meeting has been found.
  8. See footnote 4, Document 78.