President Jimmy Carter
Secretary of State Cyrus Vance
National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski
Assistant Secretary of State Alfred Atherton
Minister of Foreign Affairs Moshe Dayan Ambassador Simcha Dinitz
Legal Adviser Meir Rosenne
Director of the Foreign Minister’s Bureau Elyakim Rubinstein
Spokesman, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Naphtali Lau-Lavie
Carter: I need to know where we are in terms of getting to Geneva. We felt that we made some progress with the Soviets in the statement that caused you so much concern. I thought it represented a good statement, and should be seen in combination with my remarks at the UN today. I hope you aren’t bothered by those. My only concern is to help bring the parties to the bargaining table.
I want to reconfirm that we will carry out our commitments completely. I will say the same thing to you that I say to the others and I will not deal behind your back. I am eager to accommodate the special concerns of Israel. I know that Israel is not able to have much trust in anyone, because if she were ever betrayed, it would be catastrophic. There would be real danger in creating a breach between my government and yours. It would be a serious problem if there were a public airing of our differences over the issues of going to Geneva and of reaching peace. I would not want to go public with all of our arguments, or to confront ours with yours. That would put us in a confrontational posture of appearing to be in opposition to Israel, and I don’t want to see that.
I hope that you can tell me what facets of our actions and of the US Soviet statement and of our dealings with the Arabs have caused you concern. We want to move on together with an open demonstration of harmony. Otherwise, Israel will seem to be almost alone, and that is the last thing that I want. If there are problems, I hope you will let me know. We are not doing anything surreptitious. We are not having any secret talks with the Soviets or with others. What we have said in private is the same as we have said in public, and there are no changes in our positions. But the parties cannot be adamant about every single word without stopping progress. We have seen some constructive changes in the Arab and Soviet positions, but our positions have not changed. I would like to see us try to resolve our differences.
Dayan: I hope that we can minimize our differences, but it has never happened that we could overcome them all. I do believe that this is the best time to make progress. I have been negotiating with the Arabs for a long time, first with King Abdallah, and then after Suez, and in 1967, and in 1973. I can compare those situations with now. We are all for a Geneva peace conference as soon as possible, and we approve of your efforts. If sometime we can go into substance in more detail, I would like to outline what I think could be done. The key lies with Egypt and with the settlement of the refugee problem. The West Bank issue without a refugee settlement would remain an insoluble problem. The issue would be different on the West Bank if the refugees had already been settled.
The US-Soviet paper was taken very badly in my country. It was seen as a change in comparison with other agreements concerning Geneva. I will try to avoid discussing it now, but it is totally unacceptable to the Israeli government. I would like to ask if we are being requested to go to Geneva on the basis of this document. We do not accept it. But maybe we are not being asked to accept it in order to go to Geneva. Can you reassure us that we can go to Geneva on the basis of UN Resolutions 242 and 338 and other agreements between us and not on the basis of this US- Soviet statement? If we do not accept this statement, and we do not, the fact that we do not should not block our going to Geneva. If I am asked by you to accept the statement as the basis for Geneva, the Government will have to decide its policy, but the Government decision would be that Israel will not go. How much does this bind us?
Carter: The statement was not meant as a final basis for all the negotiations at Geneva. It does not contravene any of the agreements that we have reached with you. The United States does not intend to impose a settlement. We understand that progress might be made with Egypt, for example, even before Geneva. We have a difficult problem in trying to get a formula for the Palestinians to participate in the negotiations. My understanding of what you said is that you would accept the Palestinians in a joint delegation at Geneva if they were not well-known PLO members. They might be PLO, but you would not examine their credentials.
We are obliged to have some continuing consultations with the Soviets before Geneva. They are and have been co-chairmen of the Geneva Conference. The last time we met at Geneva the United States and the Soviet Union asked the Secretary General of the United Nations to convene the conference. We do not insist that you accept all the elements of the US-Soviet statement. It would be helpful to know what you cannot accept. Syria also disagrees with some of the statement, as does Jordan, and some of the parties object to what was left out. In the past, the Soviets have always, along with the Arabs, referred to the national rights of the Palestinians. We did not allow that. The Soviets have always claimed that the PLO were the only representatives of the Palestinians, and we refused to let the PLO be mentioned. The Soviets and the Arabs have always said that Israel should withdraw to the 1967 borders, and that is not included. The Soviets have always claimed that Israel should only get non-belligerency as part of the settlement, but in the statement we issued it calls for contractual agreements or peace treaties to be concluded. The statement also calls for normal diplomatic relations.
Vance: Normal relations.
Carter: And it calls for international guarantees which we and the Soviets would offer if the parties want them. These might be offered by one or both parties. So there are many elements in the statement that the Arabs do not accept. We did not expect Israel to adopt all of the statement. I would like you to point out the parts that have caused you the most concern. There may be a nuance of a difference over the term Palestinian interests or rights, but rights are better than national rights from Israel’s perspective. This is an agreement that we reached with the Soviet Union and it is not binding on you or the Arabs. I understand you are also concerned about our not including UN Resolutions 242 and 338. But the Soviets wanted to refer to all UN resolutions, and we finally agreed not to mention any resolutions, but to include the essence of Resolutions 242 and 338 in the statement.
Dayan: If all UN Resolutions were mentioned, that would be unacceptable. Geneva is to be resumed on the bases already accepted by the parties, and with nothing new. When they go, the parties can propose changes. We’ll give you our reservations and our criticisms, but maybe we will not convince you.
Carter: If the final agreement between you and Egypt, or between you and Syria, is different from what we have outlined, that would suit me fine. I won’t impose my will on you. And we cannot permit the Soviets to do so, if you reach different conclusions.
Dayan: Can we go to Geneva saying that Israel remains bound by UN Resolutions 242 and 338 and other agreements between us, but not this statement? Can we ignore it and just not give our acceptance of it?
Vance: Resolutions 242 and 338 remain the basis for Geneva, as the President has said. What you say about the statement is your own business. The President indicated that in many ways it is very constructive, but you don’t have to agree with it in its entirely. It is not the basis for Geneva. It’s a statement of what we see as important.
Carter: If you say that you are going to Geneva, but that you don’t accept all of the US- Soviet statement, but you will remain bound to UN Resolutions 242 and 338, and to your understandings with the United States, that would suit me fine. If you have some special problems, you might give them to us in a memo.
Dayan: The Israeli Government will not accept the US-Soviet statement, and I can now say that we are not asked to do so.
Carter: That’s true, but the way that you express your views will have an impact on the chances for Geneva. If you say you don’t agree with all of the provisions, but you will go on the basis of 242 and 338, that would be fine, but if your emphasis is on your rejection . . .
Vance: Suppose you say 242 and 338 are the basis for Geneva, and you don’t agree with some or all of the US-Soviet statement.
Dayan: I can’t make that statement. I cannot say that Israel will go on the basis of 242 and 338, and just ignore the US-Soviet statement.
Carter: It’s a matter of emphasis. You can state your disagreements, but if you emphasize them, it could be a problem.
Dayan: We do want to go to Geneva, and we have a positive attitude. We are not here to react to the US-Soviet statement. I can use this. I don’t agree with all or some of the provisions, and I am not going on the basis of that statement, but on the basis of resolutions 242 and 338 and other agreements. I have to go back to Israel someday. It must be clear that we did not accept the statement.
Carter: I would like to ask you that when you make your public statements to be as constructive as possible. That would put the Arabs on the defensive. They don’t accept it all either.
Dayan: I don’t think the Arabs are so sensitive. I will say what I think.
Carter: You should do it so that it helps our common goals.
Dayan: We are talking about the future of the country, and I must make our position very clear. Can I say that all our agreements are still in effect?
Dayan: We may want to publish all of the agreements that have been made in the past. There is a terrible mood in Israel. If you could find a way, although I cannot speak for you, but if you could say that all of the agreements you have made will be kept, that would help.
Carter: I have looked over all of the commitments and I have seen nothing with which I disagree, but there are many commitments and we would like to go over the text of anything you plan to publish to see whether it is particularly sensitive.
Dayan: Your statement would not have to go into that kind of detail. I would just like you to say that all agreements would be kept.
Vance: But some of the agreements deal with issues like the role of the Secretary General of the UN, and it would be wrong to downgrade his role by publishing some of those documents.
Dayan: We will coordinate what we feel should be published. I am asking for general reassurances that agreements will be kept.
Carter: That doesn’t bother me, but I hope you will coordinate with Secretary Vance.
Brzezinski: Would publication of these documents follow your statement that you will go to Geneva on the basis of Resolutions 242 and 338, and your reservation on the US-Soviet statement, or would it be issued jointly?
Dayan: I don’t know. We wouldn’t do it right away. But I have to meet the press after this and report to my government. They want reassurances in principle, even if we don’t go into detail, and they want to know if we can go to Geneva on the basis of Resolutions 242 and 338. They also want to know that I have received assurances from the President that all agreements will be adhered to. Later we may want to go into detail, but I will coordinate that with Secretary Vance.
I want to make two points. We do want to go to Geneva, and we want an understanding that Resolution 242 does not call on Israel to go back to the 1967 boundaries. You know this is our interpretation, and it is yours. We have a whole file of statements from your people on this. 242 talks of territories, not the territories, and it talks of the need for secure and recognized boundaries. So 242 does not call on us to go back to the 1967 lines, although we are free to go back if we want.
Carter: That would help! I never said you had to go back completely. I have spoken of minor adjustments, and I promised Prime Minister Begin that before the Geneva Conference I would not use that term in public. I have never had any intention of drawing maps for negotiations.
Dayan: I want to make clear our position. We told you and we repeated that we do not accept full withdrawal.
Carter: That’s ok. But I don’t want you to speak for me. We have no position on it.
Dayan: I might ask you to say something about keeping all agreements.
Carter: If you quote me on the 1967 lines, with minor modifications, that would be ok! I have made no commitment on borders except what I told Prime Minister Begin.
Dayan: We want an agreement, but it has to be based on agreement among the parties. We don’t distinguish minor changes from any other kind. 242 does not call for withdrawal from all territories.
Carter: You are well advised to make your position clear.
Dayan: On the possibility of a Palestinian state, for us it is unthinkable to withdraw from the West Bank and Gaza, and turn those areas over to the Palestinians, even if they are in federation with Jordan. We must come to terms with the Palestinians who live there, and we must keep some of our military installations and some of our settlements, and we must continue to be able to buy land.
Carter: I understood that you have had some talks with Jordan about how this question could be resolved, including the idea of a possible partition of the area.
Dayan: If they make such a proposal, we will discuss it, and we won’t necessarily reject it.
Carter: We are talking frankly. If Jordan were to offer an acceptable proposal on partition, and if in that part that they got back they were to turn it into a homeland for the Palestinians, affiliated to Jordan, would that be ok?
Dayan: It would be ok. But we have to find out if this is their idea, and we would have to see the lines. If they say it is not a separate state, but that we should divide the area, and within the Jordanian area there would be a Palestinian state, we will take it into consideration. We tried for ten years to get agreement on partition. I don’t think that they will take half of the West Bank and set up an independent state. You can hardly set up an independent state in the entire area.
Carter: I’ve never heard any of your neighbors say that they want a fully independent Palestinian state. Saudi Arabia has said that they favor that, but I haven’t heard any of them pursue this, and I’ve never pursued the idea. I’ve spoken of an entity or homeland.
Dayan: If Jordan were to propose complete withdrawal, we will not negotiate over that, even if the area were to be tied to Jordan. We will discuss partition and living together. We do not say that the Palestinians have nothing to say about their future. We have to come together. But if we have to pull out our military installations, that would be unacceptable. We will not negotiate over a Palestinian state. We can talk about partition, or living together, or autonomy, but not pulling out altogether.
Carter: I won’t respond to that. I hope that we can work something out with the Arabs and the Palestinians, but I have no preconceived plan for how to settle that question.
Dayan: What I would like is your assurance that you will not use pressure or leverage on us to get us to accept a Palestinian state, even if it is tied to a Jordanian federation. I don’t expect you to reject such a state, but I do want assurances that you will not use pressure on us to negotiate for such a state.
Carter: I don’t intend to pressure you, but I don’t want you to tell me ahead of time that there will be no Geneva Conference unless I promise not to use pressure on you. I know your views on withdrawal to the 1967 lines and on the Palestinian state, and I know you can withstand any pressure or leverage that we might try to use, but I don’t want you to ask me to promise not to use pressure on any particular issue. I will deal fairly with Israel, and I am completely committed to Israel, but I don’t want to single out any particular issue. I am not a high pressure kind of person. I prefer to talk and discuss. But I can’t give you any agreement not to try to use my influence with you.
Dayan: I am not urging that.
Carter: You have my word of honor. We don’t want to use any pressure, except for public opinion.
Dayan: On this point, I want you to know how we feel. We cannot survive with a Palestinian state, even if it is part of Jordan. I am not a coward, but I do not want to create impossible situations. I don’t want the United States to have to protect us, unless it is against the Soviet Union. But if there were a Palestinian state, Israel would be only eight miles wide and we would have no early warning. The PLO would dominate it.
Carter: I wouldn’t favor that.
Dayan: We have to deal with all of this, and our major concern is security. We have a feeling that you and the Soviets will try to impose a Palestinian state. I would feel very badly if I asked for assurances about this, and then asked you not to pressure, and if you were to say “No.” But I did ask and you did say “No.”
Carter: It is not fair to put me in this position. If you said to me that I should not use pressure on you to turn over Jerusalem . . .
Dayan: No, that is not a life or death issue. You can pressure Israel. You might be able to force us to do something that would lead to the destruction of Israel. Ben Gurion was ready to make peace without Jerusalem, but a Palestinian state on the West Bank with the PLO in control, and with the Russians gaining a foothold, is an entirely different matter. I do ask for your assurances on this. We will not negotiate on this, even if the others ask us to. We won’t do it. We won’t even negotiate over it.
Carter: Let me respond. You make it difficult for us and for the Arabs when you do not permit any spokesmen for the Palestinians to participate. We need to resolve the question as to how the Palestinians can feel represented at Geneva. I think that if we could get agreement to let Palestinians be represented, as I understood your position before, which would include the PLO, but not well-known PLO members . . .
Dayan: They will be well-known by the time they come.
Carter: But you and Begin said that you would not examine credentials. We would like to let the Arabs work out a Palestinian representation. I don’t know how many they might include. Maybe two, or three, or five. Then let us go over the list with you in private. Then let that group of Palestinians speak for the Palestinian interests. This has been most difficult for us to work out. I have spent dozens of hours of my time on this. I personally believe that Israel is being too rigid. We want a solution that will permit us to go ahead.
Dayan: What is so rigid? I did not say that anything was unacceptable. If those Palestinians live in the West Bank or East Bank, but not from Lebanon, they should be there and they should speak for themselves.
Carter: Now you are creating a new obstacle. You never told me before that you would only accept Palestinians living in the West Bank. This is a serious problem. There are other Palestinians who would want to be there.
Dayan: We are speaking about the Palestinian delegation. Prime Minister Begin has insisted that the Palestinians be part of a Jordanian delegation. They should be part of Jordan. They should come from the West Bank, Gaza, or the East Bank of Jordan. If they are from Lebanon, they will represent the refugees and the PLO. They will be representatives of the PLO, even if they are not well-known. We agree to Palestinians in a Jordanian delegation, but if not that delegation, there might be some other form. We will deal with the people who are there, but if there are Palestinians from Lebanon, they will be representatives of the PLO. If they are not living there, they will be PLO.
Carter: What if they come from Egypt?
Dayan: That would be like Jordan. If we agree to talk with Egypt about Gaza, then there should be Palestinians in the Egyptian delegation to discuss Gaza. We could possibly agree to that provided these Palestinians are in the Egyptian delegation when discussing Gaza.
Carter: You offered before to discuss the refugees with a multilateral group outside of Geneva.
Dayan: I still agree. That could include Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Egypt and Israel. There are some refugees elsewhere, but they should not be there. But we could accept a multilateral delegation for that specific issue. There are also Jewish refugees who left Arab countries who have claims, but this group will not discuss the future of the West Bank or Gaza.
Carter: How do you see Lebanon at Geneva?
Dayan: If Lebanon should ask to participate, we will support it.
Dayan: What can we do about your pressure?
Carter: We are trying to break a deadlock on Palestinian representation. You and Secretary Vance should work out some language on the issue of pressure. I don’t ever intend to press you or impose a settlement, but I am reluctant to be pinned down on one point. I understand that this is a matter of great concern to Israel, and I want some means to go to the Arabs and work out Palestinian representation.
Dayan: We did pass our ideas on to the Secretary and I hope that they are not unacceptable.
Vance: I haven’t had time yet to study your paper. The Jordanians have made clear that they will not accept Palestinians in their delegation, and we cannot ignore that fact.
Dayan: I told the Secretary that if that is so, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza will participate even if they are not in the Jordanian delegation.
Carter: As an independent group?
Dayan: No. We will not recognize them as a separate group. I can’t say how it would be done, but we can find a formula. The negotiations should involve Egypt, Jordan and Israel, but Palestinians could be included.
Carter: Jordan will not accept and you can understand why. Jordan has to worry about Iraq and Libya and others.
Dayan: The Rabat Conference, yes. That is not a problem.
Carter: But it is not yet solved.
Dayan: If we agree on the principles for Geneva, and if this is the only problem, we will overcome it, provided that the Palestinians are not an equal delegation, which would mean that they are entitled to a state, and we will not touch the idea of a state. We can talk with Palestinians about the future of the West Bank, and about how we can live together and we can do everything. We are not asking for Israeli sovereignty there. We don’t want to annex the territory. We want to know what their interests are, other than having a state and sovereignty of their own. We want to live together in the territories and we don’t want to give them back. We need your understanding. There can be Palestinians in the negotiation, but not on the basis of a future state, and we can find a formula. If Jordan does not want them in their delegation…
Carter: Would Egypt take them?
Carter: I hope that you will agree to convene with one Arab delegation, then to negotiate separately.
Dayan: We accepted, provided it is only for the opening, and then each negotiation will be on a bilateral basis leading to peace treaties.
Carter: But how do you negotiate the West Bank and the Palestinian question? With whom?
Dayan: With Jordan we will discuss the West Bank. We took the territories from Jordan, and we will talk with Egypt about Gaza, and we can include the Palestinians who are living there, both in the West Bank and in Gaza.
Carter: Let me ask a question. There is a problem because Syria is excluded. I can’t see them as the only party not represented.
Dayan: We could leave Egypt out also.
Vance: Egypt will want to negotiate on Gaza.
Dayan: Syria has no claim to deal with these areas.
Carter: I have a meeting now with the European group. You and Secretary Vance might want to continue talking, and we can meet together again later. I think we are getting down to some possible areas of agreement, and I think we can remove the few remaining obstacles.
Dayan: If it is convenient, I’ll be glad to meet again.
Vance: Let’s come back about 9:30 and continue the discussion.
[The meeting resumes at 9:30 p.m. without the President.]
Vance: We can reconfirm all of the commitments we have made to you in the past. That is no problem. The problems remain in two areas: the question of Palestinian representation; and the question of how to deal with the West Bank and Gaza in the organization of the Geneva Conference. Foreign Minister Dayan says that he has a problem with the use of arms or economic aid as a form of pressure, not with our simply expressing our views. This helps to define theissue.
Dayan: We want you not to use that kind of pressure just on the Palestinian state question. We want you not to use those means during the negotiations.
Vance: Congress can, of course, do what it wants, but we can say that we will not withhold essential equipment or economic assistance as a way of putting pressure on Israel. But you have to help solve the question of Palestinian representation. You are being overly rigid.
Dayan: We have a number of problems. On the legal side, with whom are we to negotiate? The parties to the negotiations are states. Resolution 242 provides a clear basis for the negotiations, and 242 is related to the 1967 war. We are reluctant to move away from that. We are happy to see in your paper that Jordan, Egypt, and the Palestinians are to negotiate with Israel over the West Bank and Gaza. We agree that all should be dealing with the question. If too much emphasis is given to the Palestinians, what role would there be for Jordan and Egypt? If the West Bank is dealt with between Israel and the Palestinians, there would be no room for Jordan. But if the negotiations include Jordan and Egypt, what grounds are there for the Palestinians to be there?
Vance: Neither Egypt nor Jordan will say that they can deal with Gaza and theWest Bank without a Palestinian expression of their views as well. They can’t do it; there has to be a Palestinian voice.
Dayan: I am not saying it should be done without them. Let both of them be there.
Vance: Jordan and Egypt will not take them as part of their delegations.
Dayan: Let’s agree that Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinians should be there. Palestinians should be from the West Bank and Gaza, and Israel should be there. There is a question of whether the Palestinians should be part of the Egyptian and Jordanian delegations. If not, then we have to find a way to make it work, but the Palestinians should not be there as a separate group.
Vance: Why not? If the Arabs are willing to submit individual names of the
Palestinian element of a unified Arab delegation, and if you can say “Yes” or “No,” how would that hurt you?
Dayan: We have to be very careful of any new element at Geneva. If there is a new party, that would be a change.
Vance: If you want peace negotiations leading to a solution to the problem, you have to have flexibility.
Dayan: We would be in a bad position if we said there could be no Palestinians, but we say let the Palestinians be with Egypt and Jordan. What problem is there of having the Jordanians and the Palestinians together?
Vance: Do you say they have to be part of the Jordanian delegation?
Quandt: Why not just say that the Palestinians are there along with the Jordanians and Egyptians as part of the unified Arab delegation?
Dayan: We can say that these are the parties, but we cannot say that there is a separate Palestinian group. We have to look for some solution, but we cannot agree to a newcomer to the conference. If we say there is a working group for the West Bank and Gaza, and that it will have within it Jordanians, Egyptians, and Palestinians, then we don’t have to talk about delegations. We should focus on the working groups. For the West Bank and Gaza, on the Arab side, there will be Jordan, Egypt, and the Palestinians, plus Israel. Then the role of the unified Arab delegation is the assembly of all the working groups. We don’t have to talk about national delegations at the working group level. (Other members of the Israeli delegation arrive at this point.) The Palestinian Arabs should come from the West Bank and Gaza. We would have Jordanians, Egyptians, Palestinian Arabs, and Israel. The unified Arab delegation would be breaking into working groups. We should start with the idea of working groups and then explain what they do in relation to the unified Arab delegation. We are not in a position for a final formulation yet. But we won’t give the Palestinians the status of a separate delegation.
Vance: They can be an element of a unified Arab delegation.
Dayan: But not an equivalent party, like Egypt or Syria.
Vance: The unified Arab delegation will just have a one-time function. After that, there will be working groups.
Dayan: They should not be a separate delegation, but they can be part of working groups dealing with the West Bank and Gaza. There should be Egypt, Jordan, the Palestinians, and Israel, or members of the unified Arab delegation who belong to that working group. I haven’t reached any conclusions, but will this be all right for the Arabs? It would be best for us if the Palestinians were in the Egyptian or Jordanian delegation.
Vance: But they won’t agree. This is especially a problem with Jordan.
Dayan: We will let you know. We will consult. Then we will see if the Arabs can agree. Will they insist on a fully separate delegation? We don’t want to go half way and then find that it
doesn’t work. If you check with them and find it is all right, then we can go along. If they reject it, then we would have no part of it.
Vance: We’ll check with them.
Dayan: Let’s leave this for a while.
Vance: We’ll have to come back to it and discuss the question of the Palestinian element in the Arab delegation. The Arab side will give us a list and then we will check it with you. The Arab delegation will not include anyone you do not agree to. Is this possible for you?
Dayan: If you give us a veto . . .
Vance: A reasonable veto.
Dayan: If in any way they represent the PLO or the refugees . . .
Vance: If they only come from the West Bank, that is too rigid a formula.
Dayan: I am careful not to say that they have to come only from the West Bank. They do not only have to come from the West Bank or the East Bank or Gaza, but they cannot represent the PLO, the refugees, or be from Lebanon. If they come from Egypt, we will not say no. If we are reasonable, and we can object to names, you know our attitude on the PLO and on representatives of the refugees. Then we will go over the names. They should be from the West Bank and Gaza, but if someone like Musa Alami, who is living in London, were suggested, it might be ok.
Vance: I have made suggestions which I hope that you will consider.
Dayan: In any case, we are talking about people who are originally Palestinians, not Iraqis, and so forth. Palestinians might live in Britain, or France, or the United States, who would be acceptable, but they should be Palestinians.
Vance: I am suggesting that you do reasonable screening, but not use unreasonable criteria.
Dayan: We should be nice.
Vance: You should try to be as practical as possible.
Dayan: We will see who the people are.
Vance: But once you start placing them in pigeon holes, then you have problems. If we can give you the names of individuals, I think we can find a solution.
Dayan: As long as we do not have to agree to new members of the Geneva Conference, then we won’t have to agree to any new party except for Lebanon.
Vance: They will be part of the unified Arab delegation. Let’s talk in terms of names of individuals.
Dayan: How will they be defined?
Dinitz: How will the working paper read on this point?
Vance: We will try to get a list of names for you, so that you can subject it to reasonable screening. The individuals will be part of the unified Arab delegation.
Dayan: I am not sure whether it is better to talk about working groups which are part of the unified Arab delegation, or the unified Arab delegation which then splits into working groups.
Rosenne: The terms of reference of the Geneva Conference give us the right to say no to additional participation.
Vance: The problem is a practical one, not a legal one.
Dayan: There are two problems concerning the Palestinians, and we will have to consult with our government.
Vance: I am prepared to recommend to the President that we take care of the other problems, that we will not use pressure by withholding military assistance. I will recommend this to the President.
Dayan: Could we go over the paper that I gave you?
Vance: I think it should read that the Arab parties will be represented by a unified Arab delegation. The idea of Palestinians in a Jordanian delegation won’t work. This should not be just for the opening session. Then the conference should break into working groups after the opening session. After the opening session, then there would be working groups.
[At 10:15 p.m. the President arrives.]
Vance: There were two main issues being discussed when you left. On the question of pressure, I have said that I would recommend that you consider making a statement that we would not use the withholding the arms or of economic assistance as a form of pressure, but that we would not tie this to any specific issue. On the question of Palestinian representation, we would suggest proceeding as follows: There would be a unified Arab delegation which would split into working groups after the opening, and the working group on the Palestinian question, on Gaza, and on the West Bank, would consist of Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinians. I suggested that the question of which Palestinians should be resolved by our getting the Arabs to provide the names of individuals, which we would then pass to Israel and they would use a reasonable procedure for screening those names. If there are problems, we will try to keep those individuals out.
Carter: Is this acceptable to you?
Dayan: I can’t say for sure, since I have to consult with my Government. I personally tend to go along. There should be an understanding in writing that we do not accept that the Palestinians form a separate delegation. If that were to happen, we would have to agree to the presence of a new delegation. We do agree concerning Lebanon, but we shall not agree to a new Palestinian delegation. This would be the same as accepting a Palestinian state. Secretary Vance said that there would not be a separate delegation, that they would be part of the unified Arab delegation, and they would be part of working groups.
I am not sure about the criteria of reasonable screening. We won’t accept representatives of the PLO or people from the refugee camps, but he asked about Palestinians from Egypt, and I gave the example of Musa Alami, who is in London. I won’t go back to the line that they must live in
the West Bank, but they cannot represent the PLO, but if they are not PLO and are Palestinian in origin, and if they live elsewhere, it would be possible. Secretary Vance said that there would be no problem for the United States to say that all agreements between the United States and Israel will be carried out.
Vance: That is no problem.
Dayan: We have agreed about the question of pressure, and not just about the Palestinian state, and I said that it referred only to the withholding of economic and military aid, not a statement of your positions.
Carter: I have already said that and so did the Vice President’s speech.
Vance: I have also said it.
Dayan: I was suggesting that we go over the paper that we gave you. We have just discussed the question of the working groups.
Carter: I have avoided giving secret agreements to you or to the Arabs. I want to be free to tell them anything that we agree on. I don’t like private agreements, and I won’t do it. It is better not to. Also, if we submit names to you, this could be an obstacle, but we will ask the Arabs to work with us. There can be no veto for Israel, but we will consult you. If there is a name you cannot accept, you will not go to the conference. But we cannot agree on the Arabs’ behalf that you have to give your agreement to each individual, but we will try to get names that you can accept.
Dayan: For the Palestinians, we suggested that we not deal with individual names, but that Palestinians be part of the Jordanian delegation. Then we were told that this would not work.
Carter: Jordan won’t accept it.
Dayan: Secretary Vance suggested that we work from names. Israel would have the right not to agree.
Vance: I suggested that you do reasonable screening, and that you convey your views to us.
Dayan: If we fall back from our position on only national delegations and if we accept the idea of looking at names, then we will have to agree to each individual. We will have to explain why we don’t accept some individuals if that arises.
Brzezinski: What does it mean not to be a member of the PLO?
Dayan: I said that there could be West Bank residents. It is ok if they sympathize with the PLO. But if someone comes from Lebanon, he will be PLO, and we just don’t accept that. I gave as an example an individual outside the West Bank who might be acceptable, but there can be no PLO in any form.
Carter: If they come from the West Bank, and if they are PLO, then that’s ok. But if they are from Lebanon, you will say no.
Dayan: Those in the West Bank we control. If they are not in jail, we are now dealing with them and we can deal with them in the future. For example, there are the mayors. Some are PLO. I was pressed by Secretary Vance to say that they should not all have to be from the West Bank and Gaza.
Carter: But you would look at those from outside the West Bank and Gaza carefully.
Dayan: If they are from Lebanon, we will say no.
Carter: But if Lebanon is a party to the conference, and if a PLO member comes with the Lebanese delegation . . .
Dayan: If he is with Lebanon that is ok. That is not an issue.
Carter: We will have to talk to the others.
Dayan: There is a problem still with the question of the Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza. I know your attitude on keeping your agreements and I am not worried, but in my experience, I think we may have to come to you at some point in order to make progress with the Egyptians, and you will have to be included.
Carter: I have no objection. If the Arabs say that in order to get an agreement, they will do X, and if they want us to convey that promise to you, we will do so. The proposal on what we will say about pressure suits me fine. But if we get into an Egyptian-Israeli negotiation, and if we find there are some difficulties, I would like to have the opportunity to propose a compatible solution. I won’t withhold arms, but I would like to suggest a solution. If you have no objection…
Dayan: We won’t celebrate…
Carter: Yes, and I don’t want to do it, but if it would help you and Israel [Egypt?] to reach an agreement, and if we could do it with Jordan and Syria too, we would do it without pressure, but we would still want to be able to use our influence.
Dayan: I have only asked for reassurances about military and economic aid, and no imposed solution.
Carter: It’s not the first time that I have said that.
Dayan: You have said that you would offer your own proposals.
Carter: But only when a stalemate has been reached and a final conclusion can be achieved. I want to reserve that right.
Dayan: It’s ok, as long as you support us!
Carter: Nothing would please me better than to have peace treaties concluded and to have this conflict over with. That is our goal. I have no preconceived notions. It would help us if you could say what is crucial for you. We shouldn’t make all items of crucial importance.
Dayan: We do want to aim for a comprehensive peace plan and for peace treaties. But some of the Arab parties may still be reluctant. I don’t think we should avoid trying to make an agreement with Egypt, just because Syria may oppose it. Or maybe we can only get three- quarters of the way to an agreement. But we should not have an all or nothing approach. Our objective is full peace, but we should look for other possibilities.
Carter: Correct. There is the added problem of the Syrians. They are very reluctant to see the Arabs negotiate separately. I have told Khaddam that if Israel and Jordan reach an agreement on the West Bank, and you sign, Syria can withhold its signature on its own treaty if they do not like the terms of the Jordan-Israel agreement. But Egypt and Jordan don’t want Syria to be involved in those talks. I don’t know how to deal with the Syrian problem, but bilateral talks should be about to go forward. We will continue to serve as an intermediary, as you wish. We are in this to stay. We will not be deterred by problems. The talks are no doubt going to be long and difficult.
Dayan: If you try to do this with the Russians, it won’t work. This is very delicate. Maybe you can reach some agreements, but they should not be included in the negotiations. We will have to have secret negotiations with heads of state in the Arab world.
Carter: We want a settlement as much as you do. I have pointed out that we can be a mediator because both Begin and Sadat trust us, as do Hussein and Assad. But if the Egyptians do not believe that we would be fair, they could not work with us. They do not trust the Soviets, and we agree with them.
Dayan: It hurt us when you said that you see us as the obstacle to peace. I am sorry that you have that impression.
Carter: Let me speak frankly. On many of these difficult questions, you have been very adamant. Why does it matter so much what form Geneva takes? When we talk about negotiations on Palestinian interests, or rights, or refugees, how can you insist that there only be one country involved, and that on Palestinian representation there cannot be anyone from the PLO? These have all been your positions, and they show no flexibility. My biggest concern has been Israel’s position. Syria has also caused me concern, but Jordan and Egypt have been eager to take a flexible approach. Recently, I have seen some signs of progress. But for months, Israel was an absolute obstacle to movement to Geneva. I am being very frank. I am relieved to see there has been some change and that you are now trying to help find solutions.
Dayan: I wish you could see the peace treaties . . .
Carter: I have read every word of them.
Dayan: We could not be more open. There are no “nos” in those documents. These are proposals and we will negotiate openly. But how can we sit with the PLO, with their Covenant, and with what they do? How can we accept that their objective is to destroy Israel? We don’t want to negotiate about a Palestinian state or about full withdrawal, even if the state were to be part of Jordan, but we are not being an obstacle to peace. Those conditions would spell the end of Israel. If the last war started on the 1967 lines, with only eight miles between Tel Aviv and the Arabs, I don’t know what would have happened. The United States did not exactly rush to our assistance. I would hate to think of having to depend upon American soldiers to defend Israel. At first, the United States would not send arms to Israel. What if we had depended on the United States? But we can take care of ourselves if we have proper borders and military installations. But we can’t have this with the Palestinian state, even if it is demilitarized, because that would prohibit Israel from being there too. For you, this is foreign policy, but for us, it is part of our future. We don’t want a breach, but what would be worse, a breach with the United States, or a Palestinian state which would spell our destruction? This is our view. We hope for progress.
Carter: We recently have seen some adequate flexibility on your part, but for the first six months I saw no flexibility in Israel. Once we got texts from you and from Jordan and from Egypt, and even an outline from Syria, we began to see some flexibility. I am not being critical, and I want to tell you that I appreciate the recent improvements, but I did feel that Israel was an obstacle.
Vance: That’s right.
Carter: The others have been very cooperative and have given us some options. Sometimes your public statements have been very difficult to accommodate. I am not insensitive to the special need of your government to express its views, but I am concerned that you put obstacles in the way of Geneva and of finding a solution. I have never had those doubts about Egypt and Jordan. I do have doubts about Syria, but Assad has been somewhat helpful. I have had difficulties with Syria and Israel.
Dayan: I agreed with Secretary Vance that for the opening sessions of Geneva we will go as a unified Arab delegation, and then maybe we can negotiate through you with the other Arab countries. Maybe we can make more progress with Egypt or with Jordan.
Carter: Jordan is worried especially in recent weeks.
Dayan: There are mayors on the West Bank who are Jordanian citizens and they do not depend on Jordan. King Hussein invited them for his 25th anniversary celebrations and they refused to go. They sent back his invitations and said that he was not their leader. This started with the buildup of the PLO. Hussein told me about this. This is what produces the negative mood. This shows how bad the situation is. He got the signal. He knows he cannot speak for them.
Carter: From the beginning, King Hussein realized that he could not speak for the Palestinians. This was opposed by Syria. Even when Sadat proposed this, Jordan was negative. Recently he has been totally opposed. He could not accept this. I do not know if Assad is able to show any more flexibility. Syria wants to negotiate not only on its own territory, but wants to have a voice on the West Bank as well. I don’t see that as legitimate. There are some problems with the idea of the Arab delegation. The problem for us is to juggle all of these balls at once.
Dayan: It is difficult for Egypt when Syria is in opposition. If Egypt cannot sign a treaty, we may have to go for less than that, working through you. Perhaps we could end the state of war. We could consult with you, and you could give us a letter, and it might be difficult for Egypt to conclude a peace treaty with Israel while Syria is left out, but some progress could be made. It would be ok if Saudi Arabia wants to offer its views on Jerusalem. Jerusalem will have to be solved, but this is not the most difficult problem. Egypt could move if it is supported by Saudi Arabia. Syria and the PLO can make no progress. So Saudi Arabia’s position is crucial. The question is whether they will support Egypt, backed by the US.
Carter: Saudi Arabia wants to see peace if they can achieve it. They are very vulnerable and they have great wealth. They have been quite forthcoming and have been prepared to help us. I am not sure how they would choose. They see their responsibility to hold the Arab nations together. But they also want a peace settlement and they are very close to us.
Dayan: They won’t support the pro-Soviet regimes. If the Syrians are stubborn, would Saudi Arabia support them?
Carter: I can’t say. I won’t try to guess. I hope that the Soviets can use their influence to encourage Syria to participate.
Dayan: We hear that the Soviets want an independent Palestinian state in order to gain a foothold in the area.
Carter: I can’t deny that.
Vance: Syria complained about the US-Soviet statement and felt that it brought pressure on them to go to Geneva. They are not so anxious to go.
Carter: The Syrians were also furious about my speech today.
Vance: I am not sure they will line up with the Soviets.
Dayan: I share your hopes.
Carter: We can’t be sure that the Soviets really want peace.
Dayan: The Soviets do not want war, but Sadat needs to show the Egyptians why it was worthwhile for him to turn to the United States and to break with the Soviets. If there can be no Palestinian state and if the Syrians remain reluctant, then only Egypt can really make progress. They can get substantial withdrawal, and I am not sure what role the Soviets would play, but if you don’t help Egypt make progress, then things will bog down.
Carter: That is not my position. I will help any individual state make progress on a settlement, or we will help all of them. If the Syrians are opposed to Geneva or adamant on the PLO, and if Egypt is willing to go forward, we will help.
Dayan: You’re not just an interested party. You have invested a lot.
Carter: I agree. How do you see the Golan Heights?
Dayan: I didn’t want to go up in 1967.
Carter: And now?
Dayan: I don’t know. It depends on the suggestions that are made. I must think about Israel’s future security and I have to think about what happens in Sinai and what happens on the West Bank and what happens on the Golan Heights. If we have to go back on all fronts, it would be difficult. If on one front we make substantial withdrawal, maybe on the other fronts we can’t do as much. We shall not go all the way to the old line and we do not want to leave settlements.
Carter: Does that mean not going back to all of the lines everywhere?
Dayan: Not everywhere. I’m not sure. I would not say that we could go back to the 1967 lines everywhere. We would have to see a map and we would have to know about what kind of guarantees you could give. My attitude is that for the first time Egypt is ready and the others may not be. “If you take one wheel off a car, it won’t drive.” If Egypt is out of the conflict, there will be no war. This is true of Egypt and if Egypt is out and the war is over, and we have a US guarantee, then we can reduce our military force. We have to worry about our military preparations, but if Egypt is out and stays out, and if the US takes some responsibility, we can reduce our forces. Jordan and Syria will not then make war and then we could make progress. We can’t make peace on all fronts now. Israel won’t pull back from all of the territories.
Nowhere will it go all the way, but we have to see the whole map. We can get a West Bank agreement and there will not be annexation, and there will be no sovereign rule of others there, and we will keep our military installations and settlements and must have free access. There is no other way, especially for Gaza. If Israel were to leave Gaza, what would they do? Then the terrorists would come in again, and there would be the refugees, and no jobs, and it would be an impossible situation. We have to sit down and try to work out the future of Gaza. We can do without Gaza, but there are problems of four hundred thousand people there.
Carter: I can see some flexibility in Sinai and some on the West Bank, but I don’t see much flexibility on the Golan Heights. On the Syrian side, they want to go back to the international border, which is one of the few recognized international borders. How would you meet Israeli needs?
Dayan: Is it true that you said that Israel should never go down from the Heights?
Carter: No. I said that it should not relinquish control to Syria. But Syria could have sovereignty, but it should not have military emplacements on the Golan Heights, but they could have sovereignty.
Dayan: That’s one of the possibilities. We can distinguish between sovereignty, and military presence, and settlements. The Syrians won’t like that, but maybe the Egyptians could accept.
Carter: I think the Egyptians will be reasonable. How do you see the question of guarantees?
Dayan: It is easier to say what I don’t want. I don’t want US soldiers on our borders taking care of Israel.
Carter: What about the observers in Sinai?
Dayan: I don’t like your people being there. The U.S. is coming into a situation in Sinai to provide early warning, and this is wrong. We would like a U.S. commitment to the Middle East like you have with NATO, but we would like to be partners, allies, and Israel could maybe help the Sixth Fleet. But you can tell us what you want. We don’t object to a US base in Israel. We would do this by all means. I approve of your need for good relations with the Arabs. But you can have whatever you want in Israel—airfields, ports . . .
Carter: Some Arabs have recommended that we have a defense treaty with Israel. There wouldn’t be any price to pay for it.
Dayan: But US soldiers should not be taking care of my family. If we can reach an agreement with Egypt, we can both reduce our military forces, and you can guarantee that there will be no military buildup, and we could both get arms from you and you could check any buildup. If one party attacks, the U.S. would take responsibility to prevent that. It would help deter it. But if you were to come in, it should not be for fighting, but for deterrence.
Carter: I understand.
Dayan: This must be part of the peace treaties. We had a bad experience in 1957. Secretary Dulles gave us some promises that if war broke out, the U.S. would act. In 1967, Israel turned to the U.S., but no one would even take the issue to the Security Council. At least the question could have gone to the Security Council and then there would have been no war. But President Johnson did not want to act like the world’s policeman.
Carter: What could be done at Sharm al-Shaikh?
Dayan: We have been there two times. Ben Gurion, who was my teacher and leader wanted to insure the free passage of the waterway, but it does not have to become Israeli. It is not so simple. We have to go into this seriously, and the issue cannot be isolated from what happens elsewhere.
Carter: That’s helpful. Let me say a word about the present situation. It puts me in a difficult spot being attacked by the American Jewish community and by Congress publicly. If I respond, it seems like there is a cleavage between the United States and Israel. I don’t want to be in a position of counter-attacking, and I hope you can be constructive. If I say something to cause doubts, I can’t expect you to desist from criticizing me, but I am trying to take your position to the Egyptians and Jordanians and Syrians. It is important for me to withstand criticism, and I sometimes get that from you and from your government. It is helpful for you to have such strong support for you in this country, and I am glad you do, because that adds to your ability to trust us. But we need progress now, and we need to let the world know that we are working together for a common goal.
Dayan: It is possible that we can reach agreement, especially on these procedural issues, and we will keep on exchanging views. If you can say that all agreements remain in force and that there will be no imposed settlement and that there will be no pressure involving the use of economic aid and military aid, that would help. Israel can go ahead and object to a Palestinian state, but I will say that I told you our view on this, and I will say that I explained our view in not returning to the 1967 lines, and that I did not accept the US-Soviet statement, but I was not asked to do so. I can also say that Resolutions 242 and 338 remain the basis for Geneva and if we can reach agreement on principles for reconvening Geneva, then I can say to the American Jewish community that we have such an agreement and they will be very happy. But if we say anything about the PLO or about the Palestinian state, and that this is bad for Israel, there will be screaming here and in Israel. I haven’t said a word yet about the US-Soviet statement. We need to have some agreed formula, but I can go to Israel and to the American Jews. I have to say that there is an agreement and not a confrontation.
Carter: We might have a confrontation unless you are willing to cooperate. But a confrontation would be very damaging to Israel and to the support of the American public for Israel. If we proceed in good faith, we can avoid a confrontation. If there is a confrontation and if we are cast in a role against Israel and with the Arabs, Israel would be isolated, and this would be very serious. It would be a blow to your position. I am not asking you to help me, but I want you to help the chance for peace in the Middle East. I want you again to say that everything is negotiable. Otherwise, your position would seem retrogressive.
Dayan: All items are negotiable within the Geneva framework, which means Resolutions 242 and 338. But that does not mean that everything is negotiable; just those things referred to in the resolution. There is nothing in the previous Geneva framework that cannot be negotiated. That means territory, Sinai, the West Bank, all the territories, and the problem of the Palestinian Arabs, but if you are talking about a Palestinian state, we will say that is not a problem for Geneva, and we are not open to new ideas. The negotiations will take place in the Geneva framework and the PLO will not be there.
Vance: If you say what you said, it carries a strong negative impression. It sounds as if you don’t agree on X, Y, and Z. If you could say that you are positive about Geneva, and that you agree with the United States that 242 and 338 are its basis, then you could say that you don’t agree with the US-Soviet statement. But if you state all the negative points first, it will leave a bad impression.
Carter: It would help if you could give as constructive a report as possible.
Dayan: But I don’t want to mislead. Our attitude on the US-Soviet statement is very negative.
Vance: But that should not be the first thing you say.
Dayan: I’ll be asked that and I’ll be asked about the PLO and a Palestinian state. If you want a positive announcement, if I could come out and say that we agreed, that would help. But if there is no agreement, then we have problems. If I can say we have reached agreement that would be one thing. But if there is no agreement, there would be other results and I’ll be pressed. I can’t overestimate the problems of a confrontation. I am worried by a confrontation. But if we have to talk about the US-Soviet statement as the basis for Geneva and about a Palestinian state and the PLO, then we cannot agree. I would like to be able to go to the Israelis and the press saying that we agree.
Carter: I can’t control what you say.
Vance: You will have to say that these matters still have to be discussed with others.
Dayan: I would like to be able to say that you have presented your suggestions and we are close to agreement. I know you have to go to the Arabs. But if you could agree on principles, then you could go to the Arabs anyway.
Carter: I understand, but how you present it to the public will be important, and I hope you can give it a constructive tone. If the emphasis is on what you will not do, that will make things more difficult.
Dayan: We do want to go to Geneva. We believe this is possible. We are close to agreement in principle on the opening of the conference. You have to discuss this with the Arabs. I will recommend to my government what we have discussed. I will be asked my comment on the US- Soviet statement, and I will say that it was not accepted by Israel, but this was not a condition for going to Geneva. The basis for Geneva remains Resolution 242. I will say that I explained
Israel’s opposition to a Palestinian state and to full withdrawal to the 1967 lines. I will state our position on the PLO that we will not accept them at Geneva. I have to say this. I cannot avoid it.
Carter: Can you say, in addition to the first part, which is very good, that you could accept any Palestinians who come from the West Bank or Gaza?
Dayan: I can say that we want to sit with them to discuss the question.
Carter: And if reporters come back and say that someone is a PLO member from the West Bank?
Dayan: I would stick to what I said if he is just a PLO sympathizer.
Carter: What if he says he is a member?
Dayan: He had better not. We cannot accept that.
Carter: If he comes from Jericho, but is a PLO member . . .
Dayan: We want to talk to those who live there. We can’t discuss this with Hussein.
Carter: Do we need to issue a unilateral statement, or could we do a joint statement?
Dayan: It would be ok if we could agree on what we should say and on what you should say.
Vance: You can say what you want, but let’s avoid a public confrontation. You can speak your piece, but I hope you can be positive. I won’t go down with you to meet the press.
Brzezinski: Why can’t you make three points? You will go to Geneva on the basis of Resolution 242. You will sit down with the unified Arab delegation, including Palestinians. You have reservations on the US-Soviet statement, but you have been reassured by the US President about the commitment to all agreements, and there will be no pressure.
Dayan: That would be misleading if that were all that I said. We have said more than that about the unified Arab delegation.
Carter: I understand our areas of agreement and disagreement. I am not concerned. I am not displeased. I have to go now to get ready for tomorrow.
Dayan: It would be bad if we did not say anything tonight. It would help if you could say that you adhere to all of your agreements with Israel, and that there will be no pressure.
Carter: We could do a joint statement. Israel does not have to agree with all of the US-Soviet statement. Let’s stay flexible. You could express your disagreement the way that we and the Chinese did in the Shanghai communiqué.
[At 11:40 p.m. the President leaves.]
Source: The Center for Israel Education.