86. Telegram From the Department of State to Secretary of State Vance in Pretoria1

Tosec 120023/261453. Subject Progress Report on Egypt-Israel Peace Talks October 13.

1. Drafting group met again today for four hours: it was a good session, resolving several minor points, and making definite progress in bridging the gap on important differences over language about commitments to prevent hostilities and acts of violence from each other’s territory, it was again a very friendly session with both sides making a genuine effort to move matters forward, but both were obviously constrained by instructions on important issues. On several points the two sides reached compromises ad referendum to their Ministers in the first instance and Capitals in the second. Discussion of language in several articles had to be deferred because the Egyptians were still not ready to discuss Annex III dealing with normalization of relations, but as we know they received fresh instructions from Sadat on this today and they say they will be prepared to go on this tomorrow. At end of session today Egyptians, clearly on basis Sadat’s instructions, proposed inserting “gradually” in several places with respect to normalization. This raised immediate red flag with Israelis, and Egyptians, who sensed it could cause psychological set-back, urged Israelis not to report this development while they consulted overnight. I reinforced concern about this development in private talk with Boutros Ghali.

2. Meanwhile Dayan and Boutros Ghali had exchange over question of how to handle correlation between Egypt-Israel treaty and West Bank/Gaza/Palestinian aspect. Dayan proposed, instead of trying to include language to take care of this in treaty itself, that this be handled through general reference in preamble plus exchange of letters between Sadat and Begin—possibly through President Carter—which could be made public sometime between reaching agreement on text and actual signing. Boutros agreed to try this on Sadat and has yet to receive reaction. Boutros agreed with Dayan that, even if exchange of letters idea did not work out, Egyptians would seek to insert language about correlation only in preamble but not in operative articles of treaty.

[Page 311]3. Boutros remains concerned about this aspect, however, and claims instructions he is getting from Sadat put more and more emphasis on correlation between the two. When subject of what should go into contents of letter exchange came up with Dayan, Boutros Ghali also preferred language saying two sides would discuss freeze on West Bank settlements and Jerusalem. He told us Dayan balked sharply at this saying such letter could include only language in Camp David Framework, but nothing new.

4. Discussions also continued between military experts on map, and good progress has been made. Two sides feel they are close to agreement on final withdrawal aspects, including size of UN controlled areas. Interim line poses somewhat greater problem, with Israelis asking for westward adjustments in our line to take care of one of their settlements and certain communication facilities, as well as resisting idea of buffer zone on Israeli side of interim withdrawal line. Neither side, however, feels insuperable obstacles exist on military issues.

5. Despite Israeli religious holiday Monday,2 we agreed drafting group will meet all day, consulting principals as necessary in effort to conclude treaty text or at least narrow differences to minimum. We have also urged military group to speed up pace of their talks and have reminded both delegations of need to move quickly to get technical talks started on transfer of oil fields.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Cables File, State Department Out, Box 113, 10/1–16/78. Secret; Sensitive; Cherokee; Immediate; Nodis. Sent for information Immediate to Cairo, Tel Aviv, and the White House. Printed from a copy that indicates the original was received in the White House Situation Room. Drafted by Sterner; cleared by Thomas G. Martin (S/S–O); approved by Sterner. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840157–2041) Vance was in Pretoria for discussions on the Namibian question with South African officials.
  2. October 16. In 1978, the date fell within the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.