Carter Foreign Policy Team Meets To Discuss Middle East Policy

April 19, 1977

Five major points were made at the Middle East Policy review meeting on April 19, 1977. First, an effort should be made to go to a Geneva conference before the end of 1977, but no preference was given to going to a conference to negotiate agreements or have them secretly negotiated in advance. Second, creating borders and the Palestinian issue were considered the thorniest issues, with finding a resolution over Sinai easier than one over the West Bank or Golan Heights. Third, the Soviet Union should be engaged to moderate Arab views, but not to the exclusion of the US having its own contacts with the PLO and maintaining almost unilateral dominance over the mediation process.  Fourth, no new major agreements should be made about arms sales to any countries in the region.  And fifth, “The Rabin resignation was not seen as significantly delaying negotiations, but it was felt that the new Israeli Prime Minister should be invited to Washington as soon as possible after the formation of his government. This would presumably be mid or late June. Secretary Vance (shown in photo below conferring with National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brezinski about Middle East issues in 1977) would plan to visit the area shortly thereafter.”  (Minutes of a Policy Review Committee Meeting, Washington, April 19, 1977, 3:00–4:30 pm, Foreign Relations Documents of the United States, 1977-1978)

No evidence exists that anywhere in the Carter Administration was there a chance of Menachem Begin being Israel’s next Prime Minister.  Begin’s Likud Party would win a dramatic electoral victory in May 1977.