An overview of US involvement in the Middle East Peace Process during the Carter Administration.

The following documents comprise a 10-part collection examining the Carter Administration's efforts to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict. Partial success culminated with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat signing the Camp David Accords in 1978 and the resultant Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty in 1979. This curated series contains a small selection of more than several hundred documents that will be published in fall 2018. They are drawn from published and unpublished items housed in the Israeli State Archives, the Carter Presidential Library, and the Foreign Relations of the United States.


Minutes of a Policy Review Committee Meeting About the Middle East

April 19, 1977

When the Carter Administration entered office in 1977, an early foreign policy priority was to kick-start Middle East negotiations. In this Policy Review Committee Meeting, Carter’s staff proposed a negotiating outcome that would pass through a conference, including the withdrawal of Israel’s forces to almost the 1967 borders, bringing the PLO into talks as Palestinian representatives, all the while seeking to uphold Israel's security requirements.

Memorandum of Conversation between Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and US President Jimmy Carter

July 19, 1977

Following his surprise electoral victory in May, Prime Minister Menachem Begin traveled to Washington in an effort to establish a positive rapport with President Carter. While this initial meeting was cordial, each met the others’ stubbornness, a characteristic that would keep their relationship respectful but acrid for years to come.

Memorandum of Conversation between US President Jimmy Carter and Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan

October 4, 1977

Common to both the Labor Party and to Begin’s government was a fear that the US would pressure Israel into unwanted concessions and deny Israel its right to sovereign decision-making. It was a concern that Dayan expressed in this October 1977 meeting, and one that he would articulate on several occasions during the Camp David negotiations.

Memorandum of Conversation between US President Jimmy Carter and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and their Delegations

March 21, 1978

After a year in office, the Carter administration’s initiative to achieve a comprehensive Middle East peace between Israel and her Arab neighbors had stalled. At this White House meeting, Dayan reviewed Israel’s concerns about the West Bank and Brzezinski criticized Begin’s autonomy plan for the Palestinians. Begin and Carter’s mutual dislike over policy decisions continued to rise.

Memorandum of Conversation between Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan and Israeli Defense Minister Ezer Weizman with US Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and 
US Secretary of Defense Harold Brown

September 7, 1978

At this early Camp David meeting, Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan and Israeli Defense Minister Ezer Weizman presented cogent summaries of Israel’s willingness to resolve the 1967 refugee issue and Israel’s security needs in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Sinai.

Memorandum of Conversation between the US and Egyptian Delegations at Camp David

September 11, 1978

Like all other US records of conversations from the Camp David negotiations, this conversation too was a summary of what was discussed and raised, and not a verbatim transcript. From this meeting we learn that when it came time for the Egyptians to respond to the Israeli ideas, President Anwar Sadat kept very tight control over the content of his advisers’ drafts.

Memorandum of Israeli Delegation Consultation with US Secretary of State 
Cyrus Vance at Camp David

September 14, 1978

This meeting between Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and the Israeli delegation exemplified the injection of US interests and the application of concerted diplomatic pressure on Israel. The Israeli delegation at Camp David repeatedly refused the Carter administration’s vigorous efforts to introduce new formulations that might ultimately result in a Palestinian state.

Memorandum of Conversation between US President Jimmy Carter, US Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, and Israeli Foreign Minister 
Moshe Dayan at Camp David

September 16, 1978

In this meeting, the contents of which have not been released by the Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) but are available from the Israel State Archives (ISA), Begin clearly committed that “perhaps one military settlement” in the Jordan Valley would be established during the three months of the treaty negotiations. The extraordinarily contentious public dispute on the settlements would mar the diplomatic success of the Camp David Accords and add tension to the already fraught Carter-Begin relationship.

Memorandum of Conversation between US President Jimmy Carter and Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan in the Billiard Room at Camp David at 14:00

September 17, 1978

In the waning hours of the Camp David negotiations, the US introduced a new formulation related to the long-held American position on the areas of Jerusalem captured by Israel in the June 1967 War. Beyond saying that these areas of Jerusalem should be negotiated, Carter conveyed Sadat’s preference which called for raising an Arab flag over the Temple Mount and a description of East Jerusalem as occupied territory.

Memorandum of Conversation between US President Jimmy Carter and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin

March 2, 1979

Embedded in the September 17, 1978 Camp David Accords were broad outlines for an Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty and a Framework for Palestinian autonomy. The details of both remained to be negotiated. Yet, obstacles to implementation of the Accords appeared almost immediately.