Ken Stein Interviews with Dan Pattir, Media Advisor to Prime Ministers Yitzhak Rabin and Menachem Begin, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Israel

August 3, 1992 and August 14, 1992

From 1974 – 1981, Dan Pattir served as advisor on media and public affairs for Prime Ministers Yitzhak Rabin and Menachem Begin. He was intimate with the negotiating details and personal relationships that unfolded between Egypt and Israel in that period, attending multiple visits to Washington, the 1978 Camp David talks and subsequent Egyptian – Israeli Treaty negotiations. He concluded that the Carter administration, no matter how long it earnestly tried, it failed to grasp that neither Egypt nor Israel, were going to allow other Arab states or the Palestinian issue to interfere with their dearly sought bilateral agreement. 

He details the most discomforting meeting that Yitzhak Rabin had with President Carter in March 1977, categorizing Rabin as ‘fuming’ in his response to Carter trying to ‘corner’ him. He reminds us that Begin ‘hated’ the idea of going to an international conference. Though he labeled the first six months after Sadat’s November 1977 trip to Jerusalem a ‘miserable’ six months in the US-Israeli relationship, he recollects with boyish joy at being in Cairo the next month with a small Israel delegation, the first Israelis to visit there.  He lauds Sadat for playing a wise game for ‘tactically, practically and operationally,’ rather than confronting Israel directly on its negotiation positions, Sadat recruited Carter to squeeze the Israelis. 

Ken Stein, January 5, 2022

DP: [clicking] Well, we’ll start with you know — 

KWS: When did you start?

DP: I started with Begin on the first day of his prime ministership.I was with Rabin and Rabin asked me to stay.Rabin finished — on May 17th ’77 the [day the] elections took place; the Likud won.And I stayed with Rabin until the very end, you know, because between April ’77 and May’77, he was titled prime minister, but he resigned from the candidacy of the Labor Party for premiership because of the bank account of his wife.  I decided to stay with him in spite of everything until the last day and he called in two of us, I mean, General [Ephraim] Poran, [military] secretary and myself.He asked us to, he said, “I instructed everybody, ministers and generals not to leave behind any barren land.As far the government is concerned, everybody should hand over his area of responsibility,” meaning until otherwise [told]. First time it happened in Israeli politics that two parties changed hands — ’77 was the [first]one.Anyhow, I stayed with Begin, I thought for a while. I thought he may be able to find a successor and then I started — he asked me and General Poran to go to Washington and prepare a visit for President Carter — July ’77. 

You might know I resigned actually. I was supposed to be the director of news and broadcasting but when the whole Sadat thing started to unfold — the first day that Sadat said he wanted to come [to Israel in November 1977] etc., I was asked to change my mind and I gladly changed my mind.I said — and this kind of — you feel the winds of it. I stayed — [unintelligible].

KWS: Did you go to MENA House [talks- US, Egypt, Israel and  UN] December 1977 conference in Egypt]?

DP: Of course. 

KWS: Ismailia [Israel-Egypt summit] December 1977 talks in Egypt]?

DP: Yeah.

KWS: The Military Committee Cairo talks [January 1978]?

DP: No.

KWS: Political Committee in Jerusalem [January 18, 1978 meeting]?

DP: Yeah. 

KWS: Leeds [Castle, July 1978]?

DP: No

KWS: Camp David, yes [September 1978].

DP: Yes.

KWS: Blair House [October 1978 talks]?

DP: Hardly.

KWS: The Washington talks of February ’79.

DP: February ’79. You mean the second Camp David?

KWS: The one where they worked out the details of the treaty.The last details of the treaty before Carter went.

DP: No.No.Eh, of course.This is when we set at Blair House and Brzezinski.

KWS: Second Blair House talks.

DP: Yeah, yeah.When Carter said, “I’m going to the Middle East.”He went first to Egypt and [then to] Begin, [Carter] went back [to Egypt].Yeah, it was end of February, I was there, of course.

KWS: 26th, 27th. Right, but the first…but you were at MENA House with Meir Rosenne  and Ben Elissar.

DP: Right, correct.I wasn’t in Morocco when Dayan met the king — this was September.

KWS: When Dayan met Tuhami?

DP: Tuhami and the king on September 16, 1977. 

KWS: Okay.

DP: [unintelligible.]

KWS: Okay. But you were familiar then with Rabin’s attitude as well as Begin’s attitude toward the American push, full court press, on Geneva.

DP: I remember it very well, I mean the meeting with Rabin and Carter, March ’77.I remember it very well, the whole thing, the push to Geneva.

KWS: How did Rabin react to that?

DP: He was, to tell you frankly, he was very upset with the meeting that they held, the two of them, after dinner.He felt — and I’ll speak my impressions but they are not taken from the sky — that Carter want to trap him because that was dinner was staged [to push Rabin] I remember, and Tip O’Neil was there, etc. andall those who spoke came to support Carter’s pursuit for talking with the Palestinians etc. etc.And Rabin, I remember he came back very furious into Blair House. It was around midnight.The dinner went on, the two went up to the second floor and then we waited for Rabin in the Blair House.They came back, they were furious — fuming.I said, “Why?” They said because he felt that Carter wanted…because Carter told him, “Look, now that we are two alone here, please tell me what’s your real positions are, etc., what you really think of, etc.”

And he felt, “What does it mean a real position,” as if an hour ago in the dinner party he wasn’t speaking up his own position.And he felt trapped because, if you remember very well that there was another, another incident on that visit.That was when, it was the Hanafi group took over Washington, I think they attacked City Hall.This is a fanatic group, fanatic Muslims, they attacked also the B’nai B’rith headquarters, and Rabin was that time having dinner…lunch, I think, at the Shoreham Hotel. He was supposed to come back to Blair House to bid farewell to Vance and to take off.Before that, before that, Rabin went to American University — American University under [Joseph J.] Sisco’s presidency, give him an honorary degree, which took place at the Kennedy Center.That morning, President Carter held a press conference, and Rabin asked me to stay behind and watch it.And I watched it and a little bit later; Rabin was also fuming because he said we agree with Carter and we don’t talk in public about differences etc.etc.And then Carter, you remember if you see the minutes went out full steam and I remember very well when we came back to Blair House after lunch, Vance came to bid farewell.

KWS: This is still July ’77.

DP: No, no, no, I am talking about March.

KWS: The March visit.

DP: The Rabin visit. I’m saying because this was the prelude and Rabin was…Here, he is on the eve of elections, this is a transition government and here comes Carter with the Palestinians, which to him seems like this is a bombshell as far as elections are concerned. 

I remember, I think it was [Israeli diplomat  Hanan Bar-On who said to Vance, “What are you doing?”Vance didn’t know about the press conference until that day, it was two o’clock in the afternoon and Hanan briefed him on the contents of it and Hanan said, “Look, it seems that the president wants that Rabin [to lose] in the elections.”I remember it very vividly. I’ll give you the atmospherics, because when Rabin came back — and of course he briefed Begin on the major issues, as he asked for others to do so — he told Begin about his impressions at that time.It was the imposition of Geneva, the Palestinians etc. 

But you remember since then, Rabin was sitting as lame duck, Shimon [Peres] was chairing the cabinet, nothing came out, the Likud was really marching on. Rabin had a problem with his bank account, Labor party had all kinds of other problems, [unintelligible] Dash [in Hebrew, short for] the Democratic Movement for Change, started to really raise voices and to threaten and ultimately to break away from the Labor Party, with 15 — Likud didn’t want too much.The loss was the 15 seats that Labor lost to the DMC. And Rabin told Begin at that time but then came two things.

KWS: It was not uncommon for Rabin to come home and brief Begin?I mean that wasn’t extraordinary?

DP: It was extraordinary because it was the first time it was done, the first time the prime minister changed from different parties.But what did happen was on tradition that…

KWS: I’m talking about after the March trip, I’m talking before the elections. 

DP: No, he didn’t brief him before the elections.

KWS: Only after the elections, okay, I just wanted to be sure.

DP: What he did, as [previous prime ministers] Golda [Meir] did and others and [Levi] Eshkol did, briefed the heads of the opposition in the Security and Foreign Affairs [committee] of the Knesset.That they always briefed.Usually, it was a very cold relationship, cold in the sense of national responsibility, for example, as a sidetrack, when inEntebbewas there before the decision to start negotiating, allegedly so.And before they actually saw, Rabin called in the heads of the opposition — Begin and others — and briefed them on every minute by minute what I’m doing.And the opposition in response gave full backing to Rabin to each move that he did.It was Begin the day after, on the fourth of July ’76 who stood up in the Knesset and said it’s a great thing but, I must commend the Prime minister because this little bit extra of responsibility, it’s his, political wise. 

DP: So this was more in common in Israeli politics, but what happened since — until ’77, was the following:first of all, that Carter wanted to bring in, I think, Sadat, and King Hussein and the Saudis [to visit Washington] and the — Syria didn’t want to come [to Washington]— and they [Carter and Assad] met in Geneva.And then came the elections.Then Begin decided to go a different track, as direct as much as he could.He started to move things to meet the Arabs [in private and through intermediaries]. And then, how he —

KWS: What made Begin decide to go one-on-one?

DP: He said he felt that something else should be, should be done, not necessarily through the third party.He believed — Begin was not really theatrical.I mean, he is a brilliant politician.Until that he was only a politician, not a statesman yet, and he was laughed out of the stage of the whole [Israeli] declaration [of Independence], but he felt that maybe [if] he was doing it in a more dramatic way, maybe it will be appeal — it will solve the change.And I remember very well — now, I’m saying it in hindsight — I saw Mubarak about ’82, exactly two weeks before the evacuation of Yamit, and I was there, already out of office, but Begin asked me to convey assurances to him [Mubarak] that, thank you etc., so I asked to see him and he received [me]within a short notice. AndI asked him about his involvement in the whole peace process in retrospect.I said to him, “Mr. President, I can hear you, express yourself etc. where you’ve been hiding, if you have reservations etc.”So, I teased him a little bit and said everything goes through me and the president [Sadat] and [unintelligible]  I was fully supporting him [Sadat]etc. and given the following story—interesting [unintelligible]. 

On May 17th, ’77 the elections took place in Israel.At 11:00 pm. Israel time, the Israeli television gave a projection — a projection — that the Likud won, the famous mahapach [Hebrew for upheaval] [unintelligible]. Mubarak was vice president and he said to me, “I got it from the Mukhabarat [General Intelligence Service, Egypt’s intelligence agency]. They listened to the monitor and the television said that the Likud won.So, as I said it was late, I didn’t know whether to wake up the President or not.I knew that he was sleeping.Would he be furious that I woke him up or furious if I didn’t do it until the next morning?” So he said then, “I decided to wake him up and said, ‘Mr. President, I have bad news for you, Begin won, he is about to be the prime minister.’He sat up, surprised me he said, ‘Hosni, that’s good news.’ I said, ‘Why?’ He said, ‘We can do business.’”So this is a different kind of approach because Sadat was a very pragmatic individual.Later on, he asked many Israelis, including myself and [unintelligible], “You know who settled the Algerian Provinces? De Gaulle. Who settled China, Nixon.I’m looking in Israel to someone who can deliver the goods inside Israel.Right or wrong, maybe it won’t be in hindsight he said but he said it, but it fit his approach.Why am I saying that?Because Begin believed in this kind of direct approach, without any experience otherwise. 

KWS: So, it wasn’t ] what he had heard from Rabin about Carter?It wasn’t necessarily…

DP: No, no[unintelligible].He briefed Begin on the change

KWS: What I am trying to get at, Dan — Begin was moved to go the bilateral route, not necessarily because Carter had emphasized the Palestinians, and not necessarily because Rabin had said Carter is trying to put us in a trap, but it had more to do with Begin’s own style and personality [and Begin’s philosophy not to address the territories or the Palestinian issue, but focus on Egypt – K Stein]

DP: Yes, but he said one thing.He said, “So far, there was—” He was against Geneva vehemently.

KWS: Who was against it?

DP: Begin.

KWS: He was?

DP: Yeah. 

KWS: Even if he had a chance to talk and give a conference speech?

DP: He knew that he would have it anyhow. [Unintelligible]. Like Sadat, he didn’t believe in the Russians. And at that time, remember, the Russians were still the Russians; not the Russians today, I mean he said, [why do] I need them?They were hostile to us and threatening to us, etc.He didn’t know at the time that Sadat is so vehemently anti-Russian, although we read the scenario, because when he threw out the Russians and they started to switch to the Americans after the ’73. That was when Sadat changed course but we didn’t know that much until he negated the American-Russian — Soviet memorandum of understanding of October 1, but he was so vehemently against it that Begin said, so, [common Israeli and Egyptian identity -away from USSR and toward Washington] of direction, and he was very encouraged by that.And you remember one thing more, Dayan came back from Morocco on September 17th.Tuhamiand DayanAlthough, I’ll tell you, the Egyptians were pressing for this meeting through the Moroccans.I’m telling you the facts. 

KWS: Why?

DP: Again, this probably fits Sadat’s idea of not relying on the Soviets and the big powers, let’s do directly, because the message we got from the king was that the Egyptians wanted to meet us.Not only that. I learned later, much later, that Sadat sent two emissaries. They didn’t like each other and they compartmentalize each other, one was Tuhami. [He] was, you know, a Moroccan. I mean he stayed a lot in Morocco, his wife was Moroccan, etc. And he was [unintelligible] and as crazy as he was, he was there.And then Sadat sent over Kamal Hassan Ali. Later on, [he was] the defense minister, the foreign minister, and prime minister. And then he was the head of the Mukhabarat, and sent him over.I got a tape from Kamal Hassan Ali. He said, “Look, both are Morocco and Tuhami will brief you.”And Tuhami escaped from me.We didn’t know each other, didn’t meet each other.Anyhow, Sadat was definitely determined to get it [a meeting or meetings in Morocco- kws]there.

KWS: What did Sadat get out of the Dayan-Tuhami meeting?What message did he receive?

DP: Put it this way — I do believe, and I am familiar with the details of the reporting — contrary to some political adversaries in Israel who thought that Dayan sold down Sinai etc..,Dayan did not commit any — give any deal, through Tuhami, to Sadat.

KWS: And your source for that?

DP: Yes, I got a Moroccan source, I’ve got Israeli source.

KWS: On February 28, 1992, Sam Lewis [US Ambassador to Israel then]said to me, “I’m absolutely persuaded that Sadat did not know he could get all of Sinai back and that Dayan made no firm commitments.”

DP: Right, I totally subscribe to that. 

KWS: And that’s accurate?

DP: Accurate.More than that, I can give you another quote, if you want.Because — I asked Begin later because I rehashed the whole thing through Begin after he resigned — and I said, “Was Sadat coming to Israel, on November ’77 with a pledge, with an undertaking through Begin — through Dayan, that he gets back…?” He said no.He read exactly what I read later. I mean, the reports, our reports.But I was in Morocco and checked with the Moroccans too, I firmly believe in that. Begin said to me one thing, look, if Tuhami understood exactly what Dayan said there, not understood, but conveyed it to Sadat accurately, very accurately, then Sadat, indirectly, could have been led to the thought, or the expectation, that he will get part of Sinai back.But it wasn’t a deal, and I believe what Begin said to me.Sadat came to Jerusalem on 19, November, without any pledge, any undertaking, or any agreement, in advance, on the questions of the… 

KWS: So what Sadat got out of the September 17 meeting…?

DP: Understanding that there is…

KWS: Things could be done.

DP: Yeah, it could be done.

KWS: Now, he chose that vehicle, rather than the vehicle which he had championed with Carter for the previous time. 

DP: It was definitely a power trip.Why? Maybe he failed.He said later on — Rabin, maybe if you look at Rabin’s interviews — there is a booklet, a book — Rabin’s talks with some foreign [unintelligible] when he was already out of — he spoke with Sadat at great length, and Sadat also reaffirmed there.I’ve got it also on tape.The communication frightened him — as if Russians kept trying to get the Americans tried to bring back the Russians that he threw out back in 1972. I remember this trouble was there because in 1980, Ken, we went to Aswan, another meeting.But it was a much more relaxed dialogue between the two. Sadat was trying to bring in — all kind of messy maps, the servants brought in another map, large maps of Asia and Africa and the whole —And then he said, “Look,” he said to Begin, “You see? The Russians want to encircle me.From Chad and Sudan on the one side and from the Iraqis on the other side.”The Russians want to get rid of him and to encircle him.This haunted him until 1980.

KWS: [William]Quandt [Joseph]Sisco swear that Hermann Eilts [US Ambassador to Egypt] the best evidence that Sadat was not motivated at all by the declaration of  October 1,  but what he was motivated by a fear of a Syrian veto over Egyptian prerogatives. 

DP: They didn’t tell it to any one of us.

KWS: Sam [Lewis] says he talked to Sadat about it, and Sadat said, “I was worried more about what the Syrians would do to me if we went to a conference.” 

DP: I’m not trying to — 

KWS: No, I am just giving you —

DP: I’m just giving the Israeli angle. Somehow, without repeating itself, Rabin’s talk with him, somebody else I can’t remember, and myself.I did some interviewing with him. And whether it was false or not, I don’t know, but that’s what he brought up. 

KWS: Okay.

DP: That could be. The fact is though, the fact is — Two things, it’s very interesting to me: A. The Egyptians and the Moroccans wanted to conceal, at least through the first phase, the meeting of Dayan and Tuhami from the Americans.Not with great success, I think Dayan himself told to Vance a week later in New York, but I’m speaking about a way of thinking. The second thing was, that when Sadat came over here, he was — in my view, Begin didn’t read him totally correct.Sadat was motivated by direct negotiations, direct contact of these two to get maybe the most.And the fact is that he came here without private consultation with you.On the contrary there were a lot of pressures, I mean how to speak to Sadat himself.There was a lot of evidence, of Vance, of Carter of everybody, until they saw that this is not the way to do it.Because he first started with this big powers meeting on east side of Jerusalem.But anyhow, he was driving it at the bilateral.But the fact is, you remember, that Begin went after Sadat came here.Meaning that Begin began to drop his autonomy plan, etc.He first went to see Carter on December 15, 16, or 16, 17.And after that he went to Ismailia to meet him.And some people talk to Begin, and thought maybe he did the wrong thing.Maybe Sadat wanted to first pursue the bilateral with you.Why do you go first to the Americans? Begin wanted to play it safe.He wanted Carter to be behind him. And tried to persuade Sadat that it’s the right thing and let’s do it together.But some people in hindsight, in hindsight, said to Begin, maybe Sadat meant let’s try to go along, as long as we can, together.It’s a very interesting thought because Sadat was a bit upset about Begin’s diversion to Washington before coming to Ismailia in regards to — 

KWS: Do you have any evidence, in the summer of ’77, any knowledge, that Sadat was prepared to recognize Israel? Sign a peace treaty?

DP: No

KWS: Jimmy Carter tells me that Sadat told him that.

DP: I checked it.

KWS: Jimmy Carter said in the summer of ’77, the communications with Sadat, and Sadat told him point blank,“I am prepared to recognize Israel if it withdraws from all of Sinai.” 

DP: I know one thing. I don’t have it. 

KWS: What I’m trying to figure out is, were the Israelis aware?

DP: No, I don’t speak myself, because I tried to research it. 

KWS: Because I want to tell you Sisco, Quandt, [Harold] Saunders and [Roy] Atherton have no knowledge of it either, and they figure if it’s true, only Carter had it in his head, he never shared it with anyone.

DP: That could be. They never shared it with us either. They didn’t tell us.Ken, going back — Rabin ’75 — when Kissinger was shuttling back and forth, I know very well — Rabin tried for the first time, probing Sadat’s willingness to come forward and said to Kissinger, “Go and check with him, whether he is prepared for the foreign formula,” [that is] back out of Sinai verses non-belligerency.This was March ’75, when Kissinger asked Rabin whether he would give back the Sinai, he said Al Arish-Ras Muhammed [unintelligible]. But, Kissinger never came back with an answer.He tried to —He waited. 

KWS: But why did the U.S. go into a reassessment at that moment, if he didn’t come back with an answer?

DP: Guess what? I don’t know. The fact is he didn’t come back with an answer.Rabin tried, before the breakdown of March, before the reassessment. Didn’t come back but Rabin proposed it to him.One idea was, Kissinger evaluated it, and maybe Sadat is not ripe for that yet. The other idea was, that maybe Kissinger thought he is ripe for it yet, but he didn’t want to bring it in so soon, because then he’ll lose the leverage and everything else. I don’t know.But that’s so far, what I can recall from researching it here. 

KWS: But who in the Israeli foreign ministry at that time, in summer of ’77 up until Sadat’s visit, who in the foreign ministry was reacting to all the procedures and agenda items that were being drafted by the Americans on the international conference? Who were the people who were responding in the bureaucracy? 

DP: Ummm…

KWS: Who was the director general?

DP: The director general was Joseph Ciechanover.It could be either Elie Rubenstein waschef de cabinet of Dayan.Check with Meir Rosenne, you know, in New York.On the drafting side, I think that that’s it.You remember Dayan dealt with a lot but there was a very, very weird and touchy, touchy derision in the end on Begin.Dayan was definitely savaged by Begin politically when he asked him to serve as his foreign minister.But Dayan on the other hand, got his own ideas and didn’t want to owe anything to Begin, so sometime he had to subordinate to Begin, but reluctantly.So he did something,tried to do something, remember? Talked with Carter in New York. This was in July, August, about, Geneva, about Geneva.Anyhow, Elie Rubenstein was next to him, and Meir Rosenne was with him, these were the two that were definitely the closest to him in terms of in trusting Dayan’s idea into some moves.

KWS: Dayan was always more of an advocate of going the American route than was Weizmann?

DP: Yeah.

KWS: Weizmann believed in the bilateral approach much more.

DP: And they changed over.Dayan, you know, changed his mind later on, because he believed that maybe going the bilateral route would be easier.


KWS: Sam Lewis told us the story of when Dayan came back from Ismailia. Sam talked to him in the car to the airport, and the only thing Dayan, didn’t stay for the press conference, Dayan got in his car and Sam Lewis said in the car, how was it? And Dayan said, “We’re never going to get anywhere like this without the Americans.”

DP: Yeah, but Dayan — True, but Dayan was very pissed off by the whole thing.First of all, you have to understand Dayan — I’m not trying to portray black and white —Dayan was a prima donna, that he didn’t like anyone telling him anything, but he liked to be number two in comparison to number one.Why I’m saying that because he didn’t want to share responsibility in the final decision making. This was the case with Eshkol, with Golda too, with Begin.So, Dayan was subdued and [unintelligible]. Why? Because he was not number one. He was flourishing in Leeds Castle.He was very subdued in Ismailia because Begin — right or wrong, I’m not speaking about position — ran the show. And Dayan didn’t, Dayan didn’t produce what he wanted, and he felt that Begin was not going his way, etc. He didn’t give any credit to Begin.But other thing then was Dayan was flying back, and he took off to see the Shah.Then didn’t have time evidently — some people said he was ’angry’ – he didn’t want to talk. The fact is he left the same night, I think, to brief the Shah in Iran about the whole thing.That was three or four days, so this is giving a background for that.But it is true that when Dayan was on top, he felt the king and [unintelligible]. He advocated policy that it thought was good, but when he didn’t do that, there was a problem.It is something that should be looked on at the psychological level.But coming back to the drafting, but we have to talk about also, if you have time, with Aharon Barak.Because Barak was more than just attorney general in helping Begin — because as much as there was a gulf between them ideologically, Begin trusted him.And Dayan — all we learned in Camp David how to deal with Begin — Dayan never consulted Golda or Eshkol or Begin, nobody else on a yes or no situation. But in Camp David, we find the conduit is Barak. Because Begin definitely had an open ear to Barak.So check, I think for example, the first one to get the draft of the autonomy, after Dayan — after Begin declared to the [unintelligible]— was Barak. 

KWS: So it was kind of — Do we know the origins of that autonomy idea?

DP: The origin? I mean, Dayan — Begin says that it actually comes standard from Jabotinsky.In the 1920s, there is a document.Maybe, maybe. Because Begin was always — I’m not a psychologist Ken, but it has to be learned against the background of Begin the ideologue [and] Begin the practitioner.Camp David was the click.I remember very well, personally, we were moving through the hours of Camp David two daya, three days, maybe for the wrap up. And everybody was gloomy because all kinds of disagreements, Jerusalem, what, not. And Begin said to himself, “You know, we’re going to have a peace treaty.” For the first time he was — he used me as a sounding board. I said, “How come?” He said, “You don’t understand me.You come from the other side, I mean ideologically.I was brought up, and I had taught my followers, that Eretz Yisrael [the land of Israel] belongs to Am Yisrael [the people of Israel].And I made the most far-reaching concessions.”“Mr. Begin, what kind of concessions have you made?”He said, “Understand me, that in November, December ’77, I, in my own handwriting, wrote the draft of the autonomy, in which it says for the first time that we defer our rights — Am Israel’s rights over Eretz Israel. And I said, “But you didn’t make any concession here.”He said, “But you don’t understand me, I will make the most far-reaching concession.” Which means that he already, I think he convinced himself, was a far-reaching concession for the ideologue in order for the practitioner to come in and to sign the treaty.It’s very interesting what happened.

KWS: It’s a fascinating story. And then of course he couldn’t take — he wouldn’t want to take the practical credit for having to withdraw from a settlement, he left that to the Knesset.

DP: Yeah, no, this is more than that, you know.I think what happened there — I looked at that for a minute —Carter didn’t understand the procedure in Israel.Carter was afraid that Begin will undermine it.So Carter came — and I was an eyewitness, with Dayan, Carter, and Begin, it was after midnight between Saturday and Sunday, the conclusion of Camp David.And Carter said to Begin, more or less in these words; “Please I ask you one thing, don’t spell out in public your position about that area.” And Begin said, “I cannot, because in our system, I have to — the government has to,” and Dayan said to Carter, “The Prime minister has to spell out his position because the government position is to go to the Knesset, because the legislature cannot act as a policy maker.”Anyhow, Carter insisted don’t speak up.What happened was, that when we came back, went back, fly in New York, at El Al there was a Ha’aretz [unintelligible] newspaper the same day, he was Labor, attacked Begin from evading the responsibility of taking a position, and shifting the position to parliament.So Begin said, “In this case [unintelligible] and you know what? I’ll amalgamate because the two resolutions, one is to okay Camp David and the other one to okay the withdrawal from Sinai.[Unintelligible.] I asked Begin later on, while he was still in — already in — seclusion, “What would have happened, just for the sake of the exercise, if you would not have amalgamated the two?” He said there would not be Camp David. You understand why? Because there was a big majority for ratifying the Camp David treaty and a big majority against withdrawal. You hear me? This was not understood because this was too complicated for the parliamentary debate.Anyhow.

KWS: Did you guys in 1977 have any notion of how close Sadat and Carter were?

DP: Yeah, I mean — Yeah, I said yeah, but I mean quite, but… 

KWS: I mean, you did understand that?

DP: Yeah

KWS: Did you have any notion that Carter was trying to create a similar relationship with Assad? 

DP: Oh yes. 

KWS: Did that scare you?

DP: In a way, yes. Because we heard Carter was, at the time — I’m sorry about using, you know, blunt language — was inexperienced in foreign affairs and he was too much taken by [the] attitudes and niceties that Arabs were much better than we were, in all levels. And we felt that Carter was rushing for something which is contrary to Kissinger. Whatever Kissinger did, I mean, gradual, etc., Brzezinski was blowing through — I mean, I’m taking the Israeli perspective — Brzezinski was perceived to be more influencing on Carter — the anti-Kissinger — and go as much as we can directly.Yes, there was a suspicion at the very beginning about Carter’s, let’s say, evenhandedness.Especially, we were — I mean, we were very cautious when Carter invited Sadat in February ’78 to Camp David, after the failure of the political committee on January 18, I think,’78 when it was a big, big, big thing and Vance was furious that he came and left the whole thing, and Vance said I’m going to make a protest to Sadat etc. etc. And from this fury came out a nice invitation of Sadat over there, and later we read, of course — there was a big auto-biography — I mean, that there was a collusion made — or a planned or suggested collusion.There was, without much detail…

KWS: Sam Lewis said it was botched so terribly. He said Carter was not the right person to engage in this type of activity. He said he didn’t have it within his fiber.

DP: Perfect.Exactly.

KWS: Sam said it was one of his great mistakes.

DP: And we felt at the time that, you know — the first half of ’78 was a miserable six months, throughout. I mean, the visit of March ’78, the Carter’s demonstration that “no, no, no.” What Begin says, that everything is no.And he promised to try to sort it out and then he called in because of all the Congress, and immediately reported that everything was negative. So that was a buildup of major suspicion, I mean, whether we are dealing with a situation.But it came out to a real, a real freeze. It was a combination, I think, of [U.S. sale to Saudi Arabia of ] F-15s, of the small Litani Operation [March 1978 Israeli invasion of southern Lebanon] with what happened there, then Begin’s visit later on, the late visit, to Washington. Until [unintelligible] Mondale came over, it was a really a bad spell.Bad spell. But you asked me whether we knew. Yes, we definitely realized that all our armies on the Egyptian side saw how much the honeymoon is there.But it is very interesting. I think in hindsight that it’s not much Sadat, it’s very much Carter.Carter tries to please Sadat more than Sadat wants to please Carter.And the conclusion was, tactically, practically, operationally, that actually we are facing a situation whereby Sadat plays a very wise game, he doesn’t want to confront Israel directly, in a negative way, so he brings in Carter to squeeze the Israelis on his behalf. It was more or less the thinking at that time, right or wrong. 

KWS: After Begin’s July ’77 visit to D.C., did Begin become disgruntled with Carter because he learned that he was courting the Saudis and courting the Palestinians?This had not been something that Begin was aware of, Begin wasn’t aware that the Saudis and the Palestinians were now going to be brought into this.He wasn’t aware of the fact that Vance was sending out private messages. And apparently, through our back channels, through the CIA, we made these contacts, [with the PLO] and the Israelis found out about it inadvertently and also got very angry at Carter.My point here, Dan, is that it seems to me that all along this process, when Begin becomes Prime minister from middle of ’77 forwards, there are these little incidences that suggest Carter can’t be trusted, that Carter is doing things not exactly the way the Israelis want.

DP: There are two different things. The first thing is, I think, more is right, I don’t want to use this harsh word, but people didn’t feel at ease or, if you want, comfortable.Some people thought something was wrong, maybe due to his background, maybe because his messianic religious beliefs, could be. Were never comfortable with him.And people remembered Rabin later on said that he said or that it was leaked out? He said that — Ah, no, I think what happened was Begin said later on, I think it was summer of ’78, that he read very carefully the minutes of Rabin’s talk with Carter in March 17, ’77 in order to reinforce his view that he must be cautious etc., with Carter’s meeting us is a constant mistake etc.Yeah, I don’t think that people were, as you said, [unintelligible] not to be certain, he couldn’t be trusted, but more or less but didn’t feel comfortable.Much more comfortable with Vance, somehow, not because they are — I mean, not on the same level.But somehow…

KWS: He was a lawyer, he was direct…

DP: Clear and direct. And he — People felt he said what he thought and he thought what he said — and sometimes ninety degrees apart from the Israeli position.Somehow, this was a disparity between — People thought he was behind the scene pulling strings. 

KWS: If Brzezinski and Quandt had not been there, the Palestinian issue would not have been raised as high as it had been. That seems to be clear. 

DP: That’s quite clear.

KWS: It was they who instigated Carter into constantly reminding him. Even at Camp David.

DP: You just took the words from my mouth. I mean —

KWS: Even at Camp David they were afraid —

DP: Meir Rosenne will tell you — I hope he will — that he escorted — Oh, he was escorted, by the convoy when we left Washington, one of the leading members of the American delegation, said to him 24 hours, 26 hours, after the Camp David was signed, it was a bad agreement, it won’t work. Why? Because the Palestinians are not there.So there was some kind of thought that it must be there, and if it is not there, then it’s not good.I’m not deriving any conclusions, but it was… 

KWS: Still part of this comprehensive concept, which the Americans…

DP: Exactly…

KWS: That the only way to solve this was comprehensive. 

DP: Exactly.

KWS: Maybe not Geneva, but you had to have all the parties involved and you couldn’t do it in a bilateral —

DP: Coming from Camp David — and this is my main argument; I’m not philosophizing — I think in hindsight that one of the major causes for difference in Camp David was, that the American view — maybe Carter, I don’t if it’s Carter or the Americans that gave them — the delegation that, that what we Americans tried to get out of Camp David [was] kind of a comprehensive —elements for a comprehensive agreement, while the Israelis and the Egyptians actually clinched the bilateral agreement, from that — for their interests.Why I am saying that?I am giving you the reasoning, right or wrong. Actually that agenda split into two by the American initiative, the second half of the conference.And one was what they call the Sinai and the other was, it doesn’t matter what the name is, two.And the fact of the first one, is that the Egyptians and the Israelis came to a very — [cd cuts off]


DP: — that Carter was led to believe or believed himself that what he concluded at Camp David was primarily a comprehensive agreement, because he had the Palestinian element, we have the autonomy, etc., while Begin and maybe Sadat were primarily, as you know, hard nose politicians. Each one wanted to go back home and show that he got a successful conclusion of the agreement.Begin said I’ve got a peace treaty with Egypt and Sadat said I got the Sinai back.So this more or less was the essence of the bilateralism.

KWS: Sam is absolutely convinced that Sadat had no desire whatsoever to have King Hussein there. 

DP: Oh…

KWS: Absolutely this was his show; he was going to get the Sinai back for himself.

DP: Absolutely correct…

KWS: And maybe he would get something for the Palestinians, but he could care less really about them and it was only the people within his delegation — particularly Usama.Usama [el-Baz, Sadat’s foreign policy advisor]was to Sadat what Bill Quandt was to Carter —

DP: In a way. That — 

KWS: — in terms of the Palestinian issue —

DP: Yeah. The only disparity that I see…

KWS: — or Brzezinski, for that matter.

DP: That Sadat was the experienced in sense of the gut feeling, he knew what he wanted not in formulas.Carter was more subjected to influence from the professionals because of their knowledge and experience —

KWS: No question.

DP: — while Sadat didn’t treat these people.They had to come and see him by request, each one of them.But talking about King Hussein? He told us later on, there were some rumors that Hussein is in London and actually is going to be invited to Camp David and everyone says — what did he have in mind?I said no, I said call me.I didn’t have in mind, and the answer was and I quote, he said, “If King Hussein would have been brought into Camp David, there would not have been Camp David.Why?Because what he was prepared to agree with was not what I was prepared to agree.”So he said, afterwards. 

KWS: It is parenthetically compatible with Sadat’s policy all along. back to Kissinger; that is, he wasn’t going to allow another Arab state to deny him access to all of Sinai. Tell me about Mena House.

DP: You know, one thing thatwhich will illustrate how much he felt that what he is getting — what he is doing, nobody else did in Arab leadership, because when he asked to pray on November 20, 1977 in Al-Aqsa, and Mubarak verified with me later. Mohammed — Mubarak said that he suggested Sadat to go on the 19th.. Why 19th ? To be make [unintelligible]in Al-Aqsa.He said to him, “Look, then you can show to the Arab leadership, the Muslim leadership, that no Arab League leader was able to pray in [unintelligible] in Al-Aqsa. As a result of your leadership and peace leadership, you were — you got already the [unintelligible] in your hands.And therefore, he was so much insisting on praying there.Some extremists wanted to foil it.Security-wise etc., we were determined. I mean,because the whole Arab world — we relayed to Egypt live and Egypt relayed it to the whole Arab world and everybody saw it.I was in Rabat and they saw it live there.

KWS: You were in Rabat?When?

DP: ’86

KWS: Oh, ’86.

DP: I researched the whole thing for me. For the Moroccan [unintelligible].I had the Moroccan perspective clear on that.

KWS: Tell me about MENA House.M House.Who suggested it and when? When was it first suggested that there would be this meeting?

DP: It was suggested when Sadat was here before he left on the 20th or 21st that he wanted continuation of…It was Usama’s idea or somebody else who said, “Look, let’s have a Mena House for the Arabs, the UN, the Palestinians.”And it is preparatory for Geneva they called it, pre-Geneva, preparatory Geneva.Geneva for him was just a tool, he didn’t mean to go Geneva.Cairo was hosting it.So he suggested we will send a delegation over —

KWS: Was this his way to get around the UN?

DP: Exactly.But he, but he invited the UN to sit in.

KWS: But it was supposed to be Cairo, because— 

DP: Cairo.He didn’t want to go to Geneva.He didn’t want to have the Syrians and all the rest. I mean, whoever doesn’t want to go with him can stay out.He will invite whoever wants to be there.We had an argument in MENA House; we had a sign and a flag for the Palestinians.

KWS: But before you get there, before you get there — the idea for Mena House came while he was still here. 

DP: Not in detail, but in the same — to continue the process. 

KWS: How was pursuit of the process followed from the 21st of November until about the 13th of —

DP: Through Sam Lewis and Roy Atherton.These are the links. 

KWS: Okay.

DP: We didn’t have the direct line. We had a little bit with Hassan Kamel.Hassan Kamel was thechef de cabinetof Sadat — very trusted by Sadat.And apparently, we got along very fondly with him from day one, even day minus one. Before Sadat arrived — he [Kamel] already arrived with his special plane the Friday before the Saturday, Egyptian plane landed here and Kamel — the Israelis checked everything, etc., Epi Evron and Ben-Elissar. So, to him — but we couldn’t conduct — I mean, policy to him was more coordination — and also whispering to the ear of Sadat was good, whichever.

KWS: Who decided procedures or the agenda for what was to be at MENA House?

DP: There was no procedure.It was a framework.Framework.And we had to negotiate there on the spot.

KWS: What you would talk about?

DP: How we got to talk, what kind of grouping. I mean, I think we’re not —

KWS: There was no preparation for MENA House like you had preparation for Madrid.It was just sort of hit and miss and we will get there and we will let it fly and see what happens.

DP: Exactly.We will see what we are going to do, what we are not going to do and negotiating.Abdul Magid was the head of the Egyptian side.Eli Ben-Elissar was our senior man.

KWS: What did you guys think about when you first got off the plane there? 

DP: [unintelligible.] The whole…

KWS: Tell me. Tell me. Tell me.

DP: It was something which, we didn’t believe, we rubbed our eyes.We thought we’re here — here, we take off from Lod — December 13th or 14th, I can’t remember.The first time you see on the board in Lod Airport: El Al, so and so, flight to Cairo.You know, you think about it and say, it can’t be true that El Al put on the plane a crew, a captain, a co-pilot — former air force pilots who spent three or four years of captivity in Egypt, were shot down over Egypt — and the whole crew was Egyptian-born boys and girls.It was something.

KWS: Really?

DP: Yeah, and the Egyptians knew about it.And then we fly and we land in Cairo and see the moon.AbrashaTamir [Major General Avraham “Abrasha” Tamir]said, “Look, I don’t know how they will treat us.And then they prepared —media was there, [unintelligible]. El Al, you know, with the flag. Landing in the middle of Cairo Airport. It was something people talk about it in an artificial way,but it’s not.And then they put us in a helicopter; it was a Soviet-made helicopter.

KWS: Who greeted you when you were at the airport?

DP: [Pause] No, [unintelligible], Magid wasn’t there.

KWS: There was no formal ceremony?

DP: No.No.But it was — Officials were there, and they led us to the helicopters. And they gave us a Cairo-by-day kind of tour. 

KWS: So, you arrived there in the morning, or…?

DP: In midday. 

KWS: Midday.

DP: We landed in — near Mena House.And there are two things I remember.One is that when we were flying in the helicopter over Cairo [inaudible]. Abrasha Tamir was Arik Sharon’s Chief of Staff during the war, I mean, only four years earlier.These were the same helicopters that were shooting at us on the canal, the same pilots maybe.This was one thing. The second thing was that one of our security people, the leader of the security people came to Egypt ahead of us two or three days, and he gave us a shock treatment, I mean, he in the evening said get on the bus, and gave us a Cairo-by-night tour.And he landed us in the middle of Khan el-Khalili market opposite Al-Azhar University, hundreds of people there. You know, they’re crying and yelling etc. Everything was produced probably by some leaders, I don’t know. 

KWS: Crying and yelling about what?

DP: I didn’t know.Partly, somebody recognized us and started to greet us in this kind of thing.First impression was, what’s going on here? Like the — 

KWS: Why did the Khan el-Khalili impress you?

DP: We knew — they greet you, they go around, the head of the Egyptian security, was leading us, and everything became so crowded and out of control, if something happens, you’re the master of your own destiny.The general — the head of the Egyptian security said to the Israeli one — one was Ibrahim, one was Abraham. Ibrahim said to Abraham, “You lead, I’m not so sure I should do it.” And he gave to the Israelis the lead to conduct us through the alleys of Khan el-Khalili.Of course, we got used to the procedure.We wanted to bring kosher food from Israel, El Al.They didn’t allow us, the transportation they just wanted theirs, a military plane. So they said, “We will provide you with kosher food,” and they arranged with Austrian Airlines to bring us, you know, cold boxes of kosher food from Austrian Airlines. [Both laugh.] Just to not get it directly from Israel, they were very — proud, I’d say. Anyhow, this was a very kind of exciting thing.Remember, we had media for the first time, lots of media. The Israeli media for the first time was allowed to come in. 

KWS: Did they fly with you in the same El Al plane or did they come on their own? 

DP: We came ahead of them. Some smuggled in and they got thrown out, etc.The Egyptians were not very happy with the media.They did not how to treat it, so a day — no, two days before we left, Sam Lewis brought to Prime minister Begin, Cy Vance, and [Under Secretary of State] Philip Habib, and we said to them, “Look we have trouble, the Egyptians will not allow our media to come in.”And Philip Habib took it upon himself, and with Vance, said, “It’s arranged.”And everything was, you know, at the beginning, step one, step one.Then we had joint press conferences, joint briefings with them, I conducted with an Egyptian fellow, and it was very nice indeed.

KWS: How did it open?So you got there the first day, you took the day tour and night tour…

DP: And then rooms and locations etc. and then they built a round table in the middle of the main dancing hall, or whatever it is in the Mena House.And there were empty seats for the Palestinians, for the Syrians, but there was no flag.And in front of the building they had the Palestinian flag in the first day, but I think they got our demand that they put it off.And, so that was the background, and the [unintelligible]was going back and forth, back and forth, for just providing some kind of agenda, general agenda. 

KWS: Magid negotiated the agenda.

DP: Yeah, yeah.

KWS: With whom? 

DP: With Eli Ben-Elissar primarily.

KWS: Did you guys have any notion that you would be sitting — potentially be sitting in a meeting with Palestinians, the PLO? Never went through your mind, did it? 

DP: We thought they might be smugly, because the Egyptians are trying to show that everybody is under their sponsorship.But one other thing I remember was that Dayan was not happy with these meetings.So I think, I think Eli Ben-Elissar was the head of the Foreign Ministry, so we had some kind of a minor —

KWS: Begin was allowing the chef de cabinet, Ben-Elissar? And not Dayan?The reason for that, which was?

DP: I mean Begin conducts these negotiations, that’s what he did. Begin looks at this, as major Prime ministers in Israel did before.Golda, when she was Prime minister did negotiations with Kissinger, Rabin negotiated with Kissinger.

KWS: So the Prime minister is doing the responsible thing.

DP: The prime thing.The Foreign Minister was always really number two and Dayan didn’t like it. Dayan didn’t like [unintelligible].

KWS: Dayan was at Mena House?There was Abrasha?

DP: Abrasha.Abrasha coming from the Defense Ministry.

KWS: Meir Rosenne.

DP: Meir Rosenne from the Foreign Ministry.

KWS: Ben-Elissar.

DP: Ben-Elissar.

KWS: You.

DP: Me. There were more.There were [pause]. I’ll find out, if you want. 

KWS: I do want to know. 

DP: First, Musician of Israel delegation. 

KWS: Right.

DP: It was four minutes of [unintelligible]. I’ll find out anyhow.

KWS: Do you think Washington was upset at this conference?

DP: Yeah, at that time I think so.At that time, I felt that way because it was like an imposition on something contrary to what Washington thought was right.Here Sadat runs the show.

KWS: This is against the comprehensive principle.

DP: Exactly.This was bilateral, under disguise that it was pre-Geneva, para-Geneva, etc.; it wasn’t actually. There was no, no notion. I mean, they called it — the title was para-Geneva. They hadn’t even [unintelligible], whatever, whatever it is. Para-, pre-Geneva. [unintelligible.] Geneva was the word there.But no one talked about what they do in Geneva.

KWS: What did they talk about at MENA House?

DP: Actually modalities.

KWS: Such as?

DP: Such as, on what are we going to talk?And actually, everything was much, very much in the air.Understanding, comprehensive — all kinds of words used by everybody.Basically, I think Sadat was trying to probe: does he or doesn’t he have a partner to go on with this stimulus?Probably, Begin primarily.

KWS: This is four weeks later and you’re telling me that maybe Sadat’s beginning to have some second thoughts?

DP: No, no, no, no, on the contrary. The stimulus was alright. You know, Sadat was very — [Egyptian Minister of State for Foreign Affairs] Boutros Ghali told me, that when they came to Jerusalem — Boutros said the senior foreign ministry man — because [Ismail] Fahmy was to resign, and then the other one resigned [unintelligible] Mahmoud Riad — not from the Arab League [but] the other Mahmoud Riad.And Boutros said he prepared for Sadat a combination of papers.Procedures, suggestions, technical suggestions, sub suggestions, agenda suggestions.Sadat threw it in his face.He said my only agenda is my coming to Jerusalem.Because he clearly felt, if he is going to put in an agenda, which is not including Jerusalem and borders and Palestinian refugees, then he’s bogged down with Arabs, with all sides. He has to take a position. If he takes a position he has to pacify the Arabs that go along with him, he has a full collapse with the Israelis.So he didn’t want to put this kind of thing on the floor; he brushed it aside.Dayan tried to put an agenda because Begin purposely did not consult with his people prior to meeting with Sadat, on what’s the agenda, what’s the procedure.The main thing was Begin-Sadat, talking about principles. They didn’t talk about exchange but said demilitarization of Sinai, filling out forces, withdrawal, but not in specifics, just principles.

KWS: The same principles that been in the contents of Sinai I and Sinai II.

DP: Exactly, but concealing it into something which had to be looked at as a process of peace too.So therefore…

KWS: Would you say Camp David was Sinai III?

DP: In a way, yes. In a way, yes.

KWS: Part of a larger process?

DP: True, Ken, a 100% in the vocabulary, partly because what they agreed to in Camp David was a bilateral agreement.And they left, purposely, unwillingly maybe, the other things pending. 

KWS: You were at Leeds?

DP: No, I was not.[unintelligible.]Remember, I spoke, I hinted to you, about the rivalry — foreign ministry, so Leeds Castle was a show of the foreign ministry.Nobody from the Prime Minister’s Office was there.But they came back and reported to Begin, remember he said actually for the first time they started to talk, and he felt that although there was no progress made on the actual things, Usama el-Baz and others felt that they were partners for further negotiations.I’m not speaking about Sadat, I’m speaking about…

KWS: The next down the line.

DP: Exactly

KWS: Now Dayan came back with the impression that Usama understood Israel? Or that he understand Israel as —

DP: No, he understood that the process should go on, each one on his own on his own positions.Usama did not understand Israel, Usama did not want to understand Israel.Usama was, I’m telling you, very hostile, provocatively, in many cases.But one of the — when he came to the autonomy talks, he secluded himself in the hotel in Herzliya for one week and didn’t show up.[unintelligible]

KWS: This is January talks?

DP: No, this was later on.The autonomy talks started in the end of ’79.But before that, when Sadat came to Haifa, was September ’79. I remember it, he came by yacht to Haifa from Alexandria, big show.And he had a big ceremony in Haifa for his time, and everything was white and a parade and whatnot.And Sadat came out, waving, and Jehan [Sadat’s wife] came for the first time, and it was beautiful.Usama came out and asked, “Where’s our cars? Where’s our motorcade here? Can you tell me what is the number of my car?”[unintelligible]He went to the car, he avoided the ceremony, he avoided etc. He went to the car, went to the hotel, and didn’t show up until the end of the visit. I mean, this is the kind of man he was.

KWS: This was when, end of ’78?

DP: September ’79, on the state visit of Sadat to Israel, on Haifa.This was something…

KWS: Yeah, [Israeli scholar and diplomat] Shimon Shamir said the same thing to me.He said, Usama still to this day still won’t greet an Israeli in public, absolutely opposed. 

DP: He came to see Shimon once — by roads, leading to a car, nobody would see. Anyhow, maybe because he had a mistress, Jewish mistress in Boston. 

KWS: Let me go back, then, to the Jerusalem political talks in January.Out of Mena House, the only real procedural success was the notion that you guys would create a political military committee. 

DP: Correct, and it got done in, on Christmas day of, Christmas day of — I have a broadcast at 3:30. If you’ll want, we can continue [unintelligible]. — in Ismailia. Begin didn’t achieve much there.And there was a big show, I think it was a made up show, Sadat didn’t want to go into details etc.And Usama and Magid kind of escaped the Palestinian clause because it’s in the heart of Arab policy and Arab — all these small things, and Sadat supposedly gave up on that.But they arrived from Ismailia — was to agree on two committee work, political and military. 

KWS: This came out of Ismailia, not out of MENA House?

DP: No, MENA House they thought about it, but it came out actually in Ismailia.Remember that the MENA House guys from Israel, went to Ismailia and joined the Israeli delegation that came with Begin.

KWS: You mean they stayed in Egypt?

DP: Yeah, the whole time.

KWS: You mean they stayed for the 10 days in between?

DP: I was the only one who had to fly back because I was in the capacity of, you know, Begin’s information thing.

KWS: What was your official title?

DP: I was the spokesman of the MENA House delegation.

KWS: No, what was your official title for the government?

DP: The government — the title was adviser on media and public affairs for the prime minister, which in essence was a combination of press secretary and director of information if you want it in American terms.

KWS: And that started with Rabin?What year with Rabin?

DP: January ’75.

KWS: And you stayed with Begin until?

DP: Until the elections, I resigned in June, in the beginning of June ’81.Seven years.I didn’t believe I came in for one year with Rabin. 

KWS: After Ismailia — 

DP: It’s funny, in Atlanta, it’s Atlanta to blame.It’s true, I was the head, the president of the Israeli Journalist Federation, and they asked me to go for a lecture tour in Jewish communities.And I was in Atlanta, Georgia, and I got a call from Rabin, and he said, “Look, I just got the nomination from the convention that I’m going to be prime minister, come back home.”I said, “What do you mean?”He said, “I’m getting the guys from the embassy in Washington to work with.Come back home.”

KWS: But this was…

DP: ’74. It was ’74, April or May.

KWS: April.

DP: And I said, “Look, I’m lecturing here.”He said, “No problem, come back, go back.”And anyhow, I struggled with him, yes no, no yes, but he said to me, “Look, Kissinger is coming and he’s going to fight with us, with the press, the media, I know it, let’s do it now.”

KWS: And you had served with him when he was ambassador?

DP: Yeah.

KWS: All four years?

DP: More than that, I came in Washington in ’64, and ambassador [Avraham] Harman had just died and I was about to leave after the summer of ’67, then the war broke out, and then Rabin called me up and said, “Nobody knows it, I’m but going be the next ambassador.”We know each other at state.

KWS: How did you get to know him?

DP: I knew him personally, and I was military editor of Davar, the Labor paper. I knew; before he was deputy chief of staff, he was commander of the north command. I knew him quite well.And I said, “Look Yitzhak, I’m not a government man, I’m on loan from Davar, and my wife’s a professor at the university and we are on leave of absence.”He went to the university, he went to the paper and prolonged it and extended it. And he came in February ’78 [sic], and he said stay another year, anyhow I stayed with him until nineteen seven — ’69.

KWS: He became ambassador in…

DP: February —

KWS: No, ambassador.

DP: Ambassador? 

KWS: ’78?

DP: ’78? No, ’68. And I ended in ’69.I was about two years with the ambassador. 

KWS: And then you came back in ’71

DP: I came back in ’70, and he came back in ’73. 

KWS: What did you do when you got back?

DP: I went back to my paper, and I became political writer and editor. 

KWS: For Davar?

DP: Yeah, and then he came back and the war broke out.And as the war broke out, he composed a coalition.I was with Radio 2.I went to the Geneva Conference of December ’73 as a broadcaster.And I’m not saying, the first ever in the history of broadcasting I put a microphone with a tag of IDF Israeli Defense Forces, Galei Tzahal [Army radio] tag on it and [Egyptian] Tahsin Bashir, and he was a spokesman, and I said, “You know who I am?”He said yes. “You know this radio?” He said yes. “Would you answer questions?” He said yes.First official interview on Israeli radio with Tahsin Bashir was with me.

KWS: Wait, let’s stop.

DP: Anyhow, this is too much.

KWS: No, no, no.Let me go back to Geneva ’73.What do you remember about Geneva ’73?

DP: Oh, I remember very well, I mean, that the Syrians didn’t show up.[Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei] Gromyko tried to run the show — Kissinger didn’t allow him — Gromyko tried to.Kissinger was really manipulating everything, everybody.And I think what he wanted, and he succeeded — he wanted in Geneva comprehensive, etc., which I think the American policy makers in ’77 didn’t understand — because with Kissinger, with his kind of things, he wanted Geneva but he didn’t want Geneva.So, he had the Russians sitting in Geneva, and he does whatever he wants.He didn’t include Geneva, per say, I mean the because of Geneva in his shuttle diplomacy at all.He did solely American diplomacy, and go between, and he left Geneva in the background.Nobody wanted to get off the bandwagon, because why not.The Russians wanted to do something but they couldn’t get deeper into it because the moment Egypt turned away from the Russians and got Kissinger very much in their favor, the Russians didn’t have much to do.The only thing they could have done they kept Syria away from.But then he went to Syria, then he had the separation agreement. So the Russians sat in Geneva waiting for Kissinger. 

KWS: What do you remember about the informational hoopla at Geneva, as a correspondent?

DP: Well, I remember very well that, first of all, it was a stage forrhetoricand the main thing was behind the scenes, Kissinger wanted to work with us, even with the foreign ministers, he was a great hope for it, in this respect. If he was there because he was the main person there.Kissinger wanted one thing, he wanted really the Israelis to get along with the Egyptians, start to negotiate the separation agreements.And I think, the Jordanians were there too. Fahmy was with the Egyptian side, but Fahmy wanted always the look of the Arab League.And his speeches always were Arab position, not Egyptian position, Arab position. In his book, he said it later.And he didn’t like the Egyptian direct approach. By the way he is a liar, I think, because in his book he said he debated with Sadat in Romania for five hours whether Sadat should go to Jerusalem or not.Everybody around said Fahmy didn’t know a thing, didn’t know. Sadat did not confide in him.[unintelligible.]Anyhow, and that’s what I remember from Geneva.First of all, it was a refreshing thing, because two months, a month after the war, here people are sitting around a round table in Geneva, League of Nations, UN, everybody so, everything was so contrasting to this terrible months of the war, and people were believing that maybe something would get out of it.Two big powers, a lot of positive rhetoric, of blaming each other for the war, of the — 

KWS: You were for IDF television, radio?

DP: I was for Davar, but IDF radio asked me while I was there, to do it for them, to cover.

KWS: Did you have any idea how much had been agreed upon at Kilometer 101 [November 1973 talks] when you were at Geneva?

DP: No [unintelligible], because I —

KWS: Because you, as an Israeli journalist —

DP: Yeah but I, I was an Israeli journalist, that’s true, but Aharale Yariv [Aharon Yariv, head of military delegation at the talks] was a good friend and he…did protectzia [Hebrew for something like nepotism, favoring those one has served with], he took me on his plane several times over there, to 101.So I didn’t sit at 101, but it’s enough to fly, I mean to be there, fly with Aharale, and on the way back, I mean, to get debriefed by him.Definitely got a lot and the whole thing was the famous Gamasy phenomenon, you know.Abdel Ghani el-Gamasy was the one who reluctantly — didn’t want to go and negotiate because it was pride for him and whatnot.But it’s very interesting. Yariv and especially chief of staff [David] Elazar who died later, was most impressed for Gamasy than anybody else. But he definitely knew exactly what they were, the Egyptians. They knew exactly the way of 101 to Cairo. They knew exactly what happened to them. They knew that several [unintelligible]. They knew very much without admitting it, that Kissinger is the leverage for them. No question about it.Later on I learned from Sadat that [unintelligible]. Sadat’s daughter is married to Sayed Marei’s son. 

KWS: Not many people in the world who would have known that.

DP: I don’t think so. And I was sitting in his[unintelligible]and everything was taped.And he said — he was sitting and —Sadat formed at that time the National Security Council, not to bypass [William] Rogers and talk directly to Kissinger.Hassan Ismail — 

KWS: Hafez Ismail.

DP: Hafez Ismail was put in head of this and was studying in Washington, and Sayed Marei was on the board over there, and he said what actually Sadat told him at the time, it was ’74. No, he said ’75.“I want you to find out a way for a comprehensive peace with Israel.”A comprehensive peace.And later on, he said an interim agreement, too.One and two. The first phase was for a peace agreement.Right or wrong, I don’t know, but that’s what Sayed Marei said.I believe it’s true, because Sadat was simplistic and he never consulted, I mean sometimes he talked to some of his close friends, but there were very few.When he went to tour Israel, I mean, Mustafa Khalil said he never told anybody that was going, but suddenly he’s going, he didn’t know who was going with him.So he asked Boutros Ghali to go because nobody was from the Foreign Ministry.But he, Mustafa Khalil, said to him that general of the party, Mr. President if you’re not taking me along with you, I’m going anyhow. Anyhow…

KWS: Mr. Khalil did come with him?

DP: Yeah he did.Very, very inconsistent with his positions [unintelligible.]

KWS: I remember when you did the anniversary Camp David thing on the radio, you had Khalil and Carter.

DP: Yeah, it was.I’ll tell you what, it was one of… I, I never — not never — I seldom got so many calls etc. after this conference.It was a great day, and the radio stretched it out throughout the day.But I had all the major participants. I got Khalil and Gamal Hassan Ali, and Mrs. Sadat, and Cy Vance, and Mondale.And on the Israeli side, Begin for the first time gave me a fifteen-sixteen minute interview, a good day for us. Ken.

KWS: Let’s finish with the Jerusalem political talks. January.

DP: The political talks, generally what happened there was that Dayan was conducting it.Dayan didn’t believe that much could be done, because he felt that after Ismailia, he was pissed off at Ismailia, he felt that nothing could be done. Not much can be done.But he felt because he couldn’t get along with Ibrahim Kamel.Kamel was a freshman, he didn’t probably get, I don’t know, confidence or backing or assurance. And then there was the incident, where he was allegedly insulted by Begin, but Begin said, “Look, why don’t you remember what happened in ’39? You’re too young to remember that” or something like that. And he said it, and he went home.Apparently, Dayan was furious at him. 

KWS: At?

DP: At Ibrahim Kamel, because he felt, yes but even if this is the case, this is not a reason for leaving. Dayan said something else must be done, something else must be there. And he felt that it was right in hindsight that Sadat started to change course, because they thought afterwards, that — look, there is a military committee sitting in Cairo.What the military committee is talking about only is only about Israeli withdrawal, spreading out, and demilitarization.And the Egyptians give a piece of paper, on which he can show a game.On the political side, there must be compromises. I mean, Israel compromises, Egypt compromises. What do they compromise? Is a compromise going to then be — be blamed for I don’t know what? He wanted to change the rule of the game, couldn’t be understood otherwise because this [unintelligible] recall was not argued at that time indeed by Ibrahim Kamel or misinformation for misreporting, Sadat maybe thought that it was maybe the time to change course to go to Camp David but with Carter. 

KWS: Maybe it wasn’t Sadat who decided.Maybe Sadat was persuaded by the Americans that now is the time to introduce the Americans.

DP: Could be. Could be.

KWS: I have it on good authority.

DP: It could be, very well.But there was definitely a change of course.This was not a… We don’t buy that Begin, something or another, I don’t know how certain Kamel was.He was definitely frightened, because when he was nominated by Sadat in Ismailia, Sadat swore him in, in our presence. I mean, to be sworn in as a foreign minister by your president in front of foreigners, I think is terrible.But Sadat wanted to show a grand Zionist swear in, “Come in and see how I swear in my secretary of state.” 

KWS: Were there any Americans at these talks?

DP: In Jerusalem? Yes, Cy Vance.Literally, he was very annoyed by the Egyptians.He tried to call Boutros Ghali.Boutros was here?Boutros was here too, I think.

KWS: Do you think it’s possible that Brzezinski and Carter had one idea and Vance was just sitting here with another?

DP: Now, in hindsight I want to explore it, but when I read Zbig’s [Zbigniew Brzezinski] memoir on how he wanted to manipulate Sadat into a confrontation with Israel, I can’t discount it, can’t discount it. 

KWS: Don’t discount it. 

DP: Sure [both laugh].

KWS: I can tell you, don’t discount it. That’s one of the problems that Vance always had, it was Brzezinski. Because Brzezinski fashioned himself as a person who would use the same style as Kissinger but didn’t always have the capacity or the depth of wisdom to be five steps ahead. It’s good to be three steps, but Henry was five.

DP: That’s true.

KWS: Great. 

DP: [unintelligible] other thing was that — I wasn’t at the fall of ’78 talks in Washington. 

KWS: You were not?

DP: I was at the end of it when Begin called in both Ezer [Weizmann] and Dayan from Washington. 

KWS: That was October ’78, Blair House?

DP: Yeah. [unintelligible.] This was a target date. Why did they agree on a target date without his consent? It was a big thing, and I remember we sat at the lobby of the JFK. Begin came [unintelligible], on the way back and called Ezer and Dayan.And Vance started to protect, defend Dayan on this.And this even increased Begin’s suspicions that there was collusion against him.So, he lied to Cy Vance tremendously, I don’t know why, but there was deep-rooted fondness.But nevertheless, it’s very interesting access he said, the Secretary of State of Israel and the Secretary of State of Washington, of the U.S., and the Foreign Minister of Israel against the Prime minister of Israel.He was very blunt in that.Of course, there was what they call Camp David II, but this was — ended up with almost no game, no match, because at that time there was a big debate, a stupid debate in my view, that Mustafa Khalil was the ranking Egyptian there and they wanted Begin to come, and Begin said, “True, I’m the Prime minister,” and he is a prime minister, but he’s the executive and if he decided — Begin wanted to be on track again that it ought to be between him and Sadat.No question about it.He didn’t want interference, and none of them, Dayan, Ezer, none of them, Mustafa Khalil.He wanted to go back his duality and he achieved it later on. 

KWS: While any of this discussion was going on, from Sadat’s visit in November ’77 through the signing of the peace treaty, was there every any discussion here in Israel about widening it to include the Syrians, the Jordanians at all?

DP: No.

KWS: But the fact is —

DP: Yeah, but I have to recall it.Two things, one is — Hello [quick interruption] quite a deep, deep feeling that Sadat wanted his way.He was attacked by the rejectionists, by the [unintelligible] and whatnot.And you remember, even Morocco left him behind.After coming back from Camp David he got a very cool reception in Rabat, and the King actually disconnected himself and the Saudi [unintelligible].And at that time the main thinking feeling is we have to go along with Sadat.If we start to try to put onboard others, maybe it’s contrary to him, maybe undermining him, undermining what we get with him.Especially after Camp David, when he said Jordan — King Hussein will never be able to agree with what I agree here.And second thing was we wanted very much, he wanted, to have Jordanian Palestinian Representatives somehow on the autonomy talks, and they didn’t show up.And I believe the autonomy talks failed, not because of the modalities, because we agreed on more or less, the Egyptians were very persistent and consistent to…


KWS: When did I…?

DP: [Unintelligible, laughs.] Sadat said it to me, actually, in the interview, annually. He said to me, “You didn’t want me to succeed. You want me to fail.” This was when he came in 1979, Cairo and Jerusalem, back to Cairo.

KWS: Sadat said he thought the Israelis wanted him to fail?

DP: Wanted to fail. And this is what people tell here. That he doesn’t give us an equal chance as he does give the Egyptians. Not chances, no. I don’t want to use that word. But, the relationship, the, the — I think the trust maybe. So — 

KWS: There’s no question that Sadat charmed him [Carter].

DP: Yeah, but the question is what happened to charming? Here, I think, well, he was there. I’m generalizing. He [Sadat] felt that he charmed him because Sadat was smart, much smarter…

KWS: Sadat hated Jimmy’s ego?

DP: Exactly. And he wanted in return that Jimmy was good at that work and twist the Israeli hand, rather than Sadat himself.

KWS: He did. Of course. 

DP: And that’s what we saw here.

KWS: Jimmy Carter was Sadat’s ambassador to Israel.

DP: Exactly. Ambassador and pusher and whatever you want. 

KWS: And Carter admits it. He said, “My problem is I let Sadat trust me too much.” 

DP: When he came to Jerusalem, Ken, I’m giving you details from my own observation. 

Carter came to Jerusalem on March 10, 1979, Saturday night. They drove directly to Begin’s house. The first time — the Begins are very, very private people at home. Begin never had a dinner in his own home throughout his prime minister period. You know that? Never. Neither for foreigners or to locals. Family, all that. Some friends on Friday afternoon or Saturday afternoon. Very, very private. His wife would cook him — not a helper — cook him soup and chicken, etc. Almost, I would say, how do you call it?

KWS: Exile.

DP: Not exile. Uh, some type of…

KWS: Hermit?

DP: More than modesty. Anyhow, I’ll find a word. Almost, almost a Spartan kind of way of life. [Unintelligible.] So, the deal was that they’ll fly from the airport, land in Israel, and the two couples would have dinner in Begin’s home. First and last time ever for the Begins. So they were having dinner [unintelligible]. So whomever went back to the hotel. And then the two secluded themselves in Begin’s study. He asked me to be around. Or next door with the chief of security. I was the only one from the office. I didn’t know what’s going on but I heard high-pitched voices there. Then they came out about after midnight. Rough meeting.

KWS: How long when the ladies were apart? A couple hours? 

DP: About an hour and a half after the ladies left. And while we’re walking out, our security people say, “Where did you want the microphones, there are 400 people dressed outside?” And I arranged you know, the microphones, etc. So, my chief says, “Where do you want the microphones?” [unintelligible] I said, “The American security said that you don’t want it, so we took it away.” He said “You don’t get orders from American security. You put the microphones on.” And then Begin says to me, he says, “Carter is a weird man.”

KWS: A weird man?

DP: Yeah. In Hebrew meshuneh.

KWS: Strange.

DP: Yeah, strange, not weird. He doesn’t want to talk. He wants to go to the hotel directly.

KWS: You mean he doesn’t want to talk to the press?

DP: Yeah. The working [press] towards, 400 people had you know just arrived. From step one. And I said to Mr. Begin look, you know while walking slowly but we’re walking almost out of the gate, and I said to him, “Look, but I insist. I apologize.” I said to him, “Ani doresh memcha [I need from you.] You have to come out to speak.”

KWS: To Begin?

DP: No, no. I said to Begin, “Even if Carter leaves without speaking, you come out.” A crisis, you can’t even repair it. Okay. So it was the case. Carter didn’t want to speak and Begin spoke all by himself. Then I came back to the hall, apparently, he wanted me, he said that I’m filibustering. I said to him — which is true — I said to Carter — No. He said, “I want you to invite Sadat, now, to come here.” Begin said, “For what purpose? We have a rough plan, a rough agreement, a draft agreement I have to prepare to do it, but I have to bring it to the cabinet. We can’t do it otherwise.” So, Carter thought it was Begin’s tactics to drop it, supposedly. Begin allegedly — What Carter said, “Bring him over. We’ll get photographs together. So this presence of the three maybe will yield something.” Which was a little bit, from our point of view, a bit aloof. I mean, you don’t bring Sadat without knowing what you want from him. Not even having a rough agreement. Anyhow.

KWS: Did you ever try and figure out why Carter wanted that? I mean, I have my own theories but…

DP: I asked him but he didn’t tell me exactly. But he felt he didn’t understand Israel. He didn’t understand, they say, the American congressional/White House relations that good. But I think he didn’t understand what’s so bad about how the system in Israel works, what’s good or bad. 

KWS: Jimmy Carter is impatient with process. Sadat is an authoritarian leader.

DP: Well, we can conclude with him whatever he wants and that’s it. 

KWS: And he figured if he could reconstruct the situation where he could just be the three of them again, then they wouldn’t have all their — I mean look what happened at Blair House. Blair House, all the lawyers came in and all the mishegas [craziness], they couldn’t figure out what to do about linkage. They couldn’t figure out all these other issues, because all these other hangers on to — when mah atah mehapes [what are you looking for?] — 

DP: But, yeah, you’re right, because I’ll tell you what, I want to finish something —

KWS: He was so impatient at Blair House. The one thing you read, you read from Dayan’s book  “Breakthrough”

[DP asks waiter for artificial sweetener in Hebrew]

KWS: Every time Carter is confronted in a situation since then —

[DP asks for two]

KWS: He can deal with the president of the university marvelously. But if he has to deal with the fellows at the Carter Center where they can be straining his decision making, he doesn’t want anything to do with them. It’s not just not understanding the Israeli system —

DP: He was so furious. Now I remember now that you said, Begin went out of his way. I mean Begin asked, I’m not giving remarks, he went out of his way. I mean dinner for, and then he said “Look Mr. President, I convened the whole cabinet for you next day, Sunday. You get the floor on top of it.”

KWS: He did, didn’t he?

DP: Yeah, but you know, Carter in this evening said, “I don’t see any purpose of making the — having the meeting tomorrow because everything is done.” And he was in a mood, “Let’s go home.” It was night, Saturday night. He said to Begin, “I don’t know whether there’s any point in making the meeting with the ministers Sunday.” I have the quote. He asked me why. We didn’t know how to figure him out. With the messianic view, born-again…

KWS: You see, when you can’t figure a person out, and when I say you, I mean Israelis generically, you assume the person has a negative chromosome toward Israel. 

DP: That’s true. You’re right.

KWS: If you can figure them out, even if they disagree with you —..

DP: But we tried. Nobody could have come with an idea, who is he?

KWS: But you see, Jimmy Carter would never have stood up and said, “My phone number is…” I mean he doesn’t have that sense of public anger that Jim Baker portrayed. Never have said it! Never!

DP: I don’t make a comparison. We’re talking about the ’70s. Late ’70s. The president of the United States, also you know in Camp David, I remember now, I mean, you know, he didn’t let his details out of his hands. In the first — Never. And that is the first deal of the first week was a crisis, because he made a mistake, I’m saying in hindsight. He wanted to separate Sadat and Begin because they’ll quarrel and it will explode. Major mistake in my view. He would have got from them, got them out better in a face-to-face with him, not without him. Much better.

KWS: And he couldn’t have stayed in control of the situation.

DP: That’s correct. That’s what I want to tell you.

KWS: That’s why he chose that method.

DP: But he made a mistake. Because I’ll tell you why. Because from his point of view, he didn’t understand, to this very day, that Camp David was concluding a bilateral agreement with Egypt and Israel primarily. And autonomy was a by-product in very general terms, without any teeth, any details, operational things, as Sinai was. With thinning out stages and demilitarization and everything was already done there. Why? Because Sadat and Begin wanted out of Camp David with a tangible result for their clients at home. And they got what they wanted. Begin got a piece of paper from Egypt and Egypt got Sinai back, etc. This was a bilateral interest. Carter to this very day, I’m sure, thinks that — Begin, as I said Begin, not Sadat — but anyhow, question of the settlements, etc., the phrasing, was a violation by Begin, because actually he believed that Begin promised him and then backed out because he felt that this is the cracks of the Camp David agreement, which was not from Begin and Sadat points of view. Begin wouldn’t come out with tangible results with all the facts. He could have, in my view, in retrospect. I’m not going to be like [unintelligible] says, but he wouldn’t have questioned it, but then you’re right. The danger would have been that maybe it would have been out of his control. But if he would have been sent with them, maybe he could have gotten much more of the trilateral thing. 

KWS: This is at Blair House. This is Quandt on Blair House. “Barak asked Carter if he thought the treaty would be contingent on whether an agreement would be reached on the West Bank. Carter said it was not his intention. After all, the West Bank formula might fail because of the actions or inactions of third parties. But Carter asked, ‘What if Israel was the party responsible for the failure of the West Bank framework?’ Did Israel think that no circumstances the treaty would be ineffective? Barak answered that the treaty must be legally independent of whatever happened. Carter then told the Israelis that he was sure he could get Sadat agree and exchange ambassadors. Dayan asked the United States to write a letter guaranteeing that the treaty would be carried out.” The point of it was, through all of these things from ’73 through March of ‘79, the main focus was bilateral arrangements. And I would argue that Sadat’s advisors, Fahmy, Usama; or Kissinger’s advisors, Saunders, Atherton, Sisco; Carter’s advisors, Quandt, Brzezinski, they’re the ones who kept on raising this sub-issue of the Palestinians. 

DP: I agree with you…

KWS: Or the settlements or whatever it was. And Carter kept on trying to tell the Israelis “If you let me have control of it, and don’t bring in all these other people…” That’s why he didn’t want to address the Cabinet. Addressing the Cabinet? He’s not an orator. What is he going to do, give them a Churchillian phrase to think about? That wasn’t going to solve the problem. Carter was being pushed by his advisors just like Usama and Fahmy pushed Sadat on the Palestinian issue. I am absolutely convinced of it. I hear it over and over again from different people. Moshe Sasson says the same thing. Everyone says the same thing. It could not be re-created again because you wouldn’t have three strong individuals. You have to have those three strong individuals. Kissinger was lucky. He had Golda and he had Sadat. Carter was lucky. He had Begin and Sadat. Baker did not have strong individuals to deal with. It’s a different kind of negotiations.

DP: It’s also different, not only individuals but circumstances. 

KWS: The time was different.

DP: Exactly. The moment you saw, you have all the Camp David Acords already on the table. You have to aspire for more, I mean that’s it. That’s already done. It’s granted. Now how do you do more than Camp David with people who are less capable of getting Camp David?

KWS: That’s right. Absolutely correct. Look, let me ask you, at Blair House, you were at Blair House right? Didn’t you detect Carter becoming impatient?

DP: We thought, saw this detection over in Camp David. He was impatient with a lot of things. I remember, the first day, the first week passed by and we separated, and it was normal, and Ezer was impatient because he was always sensitive because nobody heard what he was going to say or what he had to say. And he threatened that he was going, he didn’t want to stay. But Dayan, first week, was staying at the Laurel cabin which was a coffee place, etc., whatever, and Dayan said to Eli Rubenstein something like “Eli, when is the next El Al plane to Tel Aviv?” So, Eli said, “Tomorrow.” Sam was sitting with us. A few minutes later, we heard the noise of bicycles. Carter jumps out of the bicycles, running in and smiling and Cyrus Vance was stopping his game of tennis, coming in tennis shorts, etc. And I said, “Moshe, why you in a hurry to leave tomorrow? Because there is a direct flight every night.” But the message was there. And next day, Carter summoned Barak and Usama to sit down with him and let’s start to scribble everything from A. So we were the whole group idle for a whole day. Playing tennis and the pool and what not. Doing nothing. Found out later that Carter talked to the yellow pad and started to write things with his [unintelligible] after one week. And somebody on the American side was joking and said, “Fellas, listen.” I’m just quoting here, not directly. But “I think you are witnessing an experience.” We said, “What is it?” “The first time ever in the history of American presidency that the president of the United States is sharing a draft report.”

KWS: (Laughter)

DP: So, why? Because he felt that Carter wanted to have everything. Yeah, it could be here. In hindsight, maybe you’re right. But you know what? Let me tell you, his message didn’t come across to us.

KWS: What message?

DP: Carter wanted to do it by himself and why, why? To push out the extras. 

KWS: He never wanted to push out the extras —

DP: I’m speaking —

KWS: — he didn’t want to be influenced by them.

DP: I mean, yeah. [Unintelligible.]

KWS: Look, Carter wants me for my analysis, my evaluation. He cherishes it. But if he 

gets to a situation where he wants to have it for himself and by himself and — he’ll do it. He did it once in Damascus with Assad. It’s this thing about — Look —

DP: There’s another thing which I want to —

KWS: Go ahead. I’ll finish when you’re done.

DP: The Assad connection is irritating Israelis because, again I’m speaking generally, because Carter bought, so to say, said Assad that he is not friend of ours.

KWS: No historical context. No perspective. No understanding of the man.

DP: He was taken by the powers that had been given him in private…

KWS: Exactly. Look, people who are president of the United States have egos. Assad and Sadat knew how to flatter him. 

DP: Israelis don’t flatter, that’s the problem.

KWS: And the other thing you don’t like is you don’t like an American leader, president or secretary of state, who knows the details, who knows the information. You would much prefer someone who comes with a tabula rasa so you could influence them. A person who comes with some sort of predisposition.

DP: Yes and no. You are right. The no is that Kissinger came in with information and he always was in control of all the information. Nevertheless, Golda treated him all right I think. Rabin treated him all right, although he had a rupture in the beginning, but that doesn’t matter. Maybe because Kissinger was a different kind of player. I mean what he used, maybe, you know. 

KWS: But don’t forget, Kissinger had done something that no other mediator had done. He helped save Israel’s ass.

DP: That’s true too. But, he also helped save Sadat’s ass.

KWS: Yes, but he — but Kissinger was never afraid to remind Israeli cabinet members or the generals who saved whose ass. Carter would never do that. You go back to the mandate. Who were the high commissioners that Kish and Ben-Gurion and Sharett hated the most? The ones who knew the most. John Chancellor was hated because he knew too much. There’s such a parallel between John Chancellor and Jimmy Carter. It’s incredible. It’s absolutely amazing. You want someone to be sympathetic to you, but you don’t want someone to have too much information because you want to be able to influence them by the merit of your cause. If they’re only a wheeler-dealer they’re not going to be influenced by merit or by the morality of what you discuss. And they’re certainly not going to be influenced by the authoritarian nature of your opponents. And that is what drives Israelis crazy; when someone comes here without historical context. It drives you nuts! Absolutely nuts.

DP: Yeah. People who come here, that — people without the depth of knowledge can’t be trusted to make a decision which is maybe life and death.

KWS: It’s not just signing a contract for buying a house.

DP: Yeah, but even Baker. I mean, okay, one mile here, one mile there; one range here, one range there. That’s it. 

KWS: But if you go up to the Golan Heights, like I took [my son] Andrew a couple of days ago, you’ll know what a range equals. [Laughs.]

DP: A famous story that Eshkol, I was working with him at his embassy and then we when we went to [President Lyndon] Johnson’s ranch for the official visit of 16 June ’68 was the ranch rather than the White House. It was all right. Johnson played a game and he landed in San Antonio, amazing, and he flew in by helicopter, landed in the ranch, then Johnson picks us up and we drive and drive and drive and drive. And Johnson brags, he says, “Prime Minister, we’re still in the area of my own ranch.” So Eshkol tells him about Degania. “You know Mr. President, once upon a time, there was a Texan rancher who came to Degania. And they hosted him, and it was very nice. And they said, ‘How big is the kibbutz, and how big is the field,’ etc. So they say, ‘All right,’ and they said, ‘I am to tell you my ranch is so big,’ the Texan said this, ‘When I drive day and right at night, without a stop, I’m still within my ranch.’ So the kibbutznik of Degania said, ‘We heard about these vintage cars in our kibbutz too.’” So they have what’s called a transit, a transit is an old car. So the question is what proportion you take. I mean, and it’s more than that. You know Baker and Bush are more suspected here than Carter. Because when Carter came to the whole thing, he didn’t have any record for or against. None. It was said that he doesn’t know enough or maybe he’s driven by his religious beliefs. Doesn’t matter. Jim Baker is known for the corporate and Texas background. Sentiments aren’t there.

KWS: Deals are there.

DP: Exactly. And Bush’s record when he came to be president was in duress from Israel’s point of view. He came here as vice president in the later part of his term, with a whole entourage of people, was the Jews. Touring Middle East and Jerusalem. He was about to take off to…

KWS: July of ’89. Great friend…

DP: King Hussein. What did he do? He asked his Jewish friends, you stay Jews, don’t come along with me to Hussein. Americans not Israelis.

KWS: Bush said that to…

DP: Left them behind here. 

KWS: Ech haya? [How was it?]

DP: Ech haya? You’ll hear from Wolf Blitzer, who was then the correspondent for the Jerusalem Post in Washington. He joined the party here, I mean Bush’s party, what’s his name? Press secretary to Bush at that time, I can’t remember his name. And Wolf as an American, got an arrangement with them, a Jordanian ambassador to Washington. When he comes along with Bush to Amman, King Hussein will grant Wolf an interview. ‘Cause he was interested in it. Bush’s people told Wolf, “Get off from the press party.” They didn’t even ask the Jordanians whether they don’t want Wolf Blitzer. This time the Jordanians wanted Wolf Blitzer in. They didn’t let him in. The Jordanians were offended. They thought that Wolf was not behaving properly. When he came back to Washington, he told them the story that they were refused from the Americans, wanted to take off Wolf Blitzer from the party, why, Bush wanted to show the Jordanians that he is no holier than the Pope. 

KWS: Really?

DP: [unintelligible.]

KWS: Bush told the American Jews to stay here in Jerusalem?

DP: Told them or asked them. They did not come with him to Amman.

KWS: Is that right?

DP: So, in other words, so fuck the Jews. I mean, I’m sure Carter would never say, “Fuck the Jews,” although maybe it’s a common saying. In essence, it was very characteristic or typical to be said by Bush or Baker. The attitude of Bush toward the Jews was known as “We are [unintelligible].”

KWS: We left from here in ’83, went from Egypt to Israel, across the bridge. We flew to Syria and then to Saudi Arabia. We got to Saudi Arabia. They asked for Carter’s passport. It had the stamp in it from Israel. And Saudi officials said, “We’re not allowed to let anyone in this country.” Carter got the information from the agent at the airport, went to the official and said to him, in my presence, quote, “I don’t believe in this bullshit. Israel’s a state, it exists, and you tell your King if he doesn’t want me in his country, tell him to call me right now.” You know how long we waited there? About three seconds. I mean, there’s this principle of this man, deep inside. The Palestinian issue for him is a civil rights issue, has nothing to do with whose land this is. It has nothing to do with it. It’s a civil rights issue. All right. Thanks a lot.

DP: Adoni, heshbon, efshar? [Sir, can we get the check?]

KWS: How do you want to handle the thing with Carter? What do you want me to do?

DP: I’ll let you know. I’ll tell you what.