November 12, 1992 and July 9, 1993

Hanan Bar-On immigrated to Israel at age 14 in 1938. He worked in Israeli intelligence services and then in numerous posts in the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He served as  Deputy Chief of Mission from 1975-1979. He witnessed Yitzhak Rabin’s difficult visit with Jimmy Carter in March 1977 and observed the Begin-Dayan team up close during Egyptian-Israeli negotiations. He provides keen comparisons to Kissinger’s secret style of diplomacy as compared to the Carter administration preferred use of the public podium, and the replaced of an effort at achieving a comprehensive negotiating effort to resolve the whole conflict as compared to Kissinger’s plodding step-by-step process. Ultimately Carter’s effort resulted in a third and fourth Egyptian – Israeli agreement and not a comprehensive peace. 

On the likes, dislikes and interactions of American, Israeli and Egyptian personalities who dominated the political landscape, Bar-On’s assessments are crisp, including those about Carter, Brzezinski, Sadat, Rabin, Begin, Dayan, and Barak.  

On Zbigniew Brzezinski, Bar-On recalled “We were at the beginning convinced that whenever Brzezinski came out with things like this [make Jerusalem the centerpiece of negotiating success] that this was considered policy. Was it “his own sudden histrionics …or a well-thought-out plan…; we never knew what eh, he was going to do; he was erratic and would range very enthusiastic about one thing and then he thought, this is not policy at all.”

On Moshe Dayan, Cy Vance, and Sam Lewis, “Dayan’s attitude was anything which could go, that would go; Dayan was not wedded to anything except peace, except to breakthrough. Dayan’s idea of autonomy was entirely different from Begin’s idea of autonomy. Dayan was prepared to go much further. Dayan did have a rapport with Vance and Vance had a rapport with him., Cy Vance enormously admired Dayan, …a chemistry between them. And it was Sam Lewis’s relationship with Dayan which I think became the most important part in this [for us].”

The Carter Administration “was one in which it was very difficult to improvise, period. They were not a very flexible administration, at least the part we were concerned.”

On the 1975 second Egyptian – Israeli Agreement, “The 1975 agreement was critical, and much more critical in my opinion in those days, I still believe so because it made a military confrontation in Sinai not completely impossible but extremely difficult. In other words, in my mind, the 1975 agreement ruled out war between Israel and Egypt.” 

On the October 1, 1977, US-Soviet Declaration, “we were utterly taken aback, and we were also utterly taken aback that the United States was prepared, not to go such lengths only towards us, but to go to such lengths also towards the Soviets and largely, to cave into the Soviets. Scoop Jackson went livid.”

The July 1978 Leeds (American Israeli-Egyptian Foreign Ministry) Castle, England talks,  At “Leeds basically, the contours of CD agreement emerged. I do not believe that we would have reached the September agreement in Camp David without Leeds… it was the underlying tones, it was the atmosphere, it was the discoveries that both sides are human beings etc.”

Aharon Barak, “had enormous intellectual capacity and the knowledge to get quickly out a point,  encyclopedic legal knowledge. He certainly was an intellectual hero of this whole process in particular [Camp David].”

Ken Stein, January 9, 2023

Ken Stein Interviews with Hanan Bar-On, Jerusalem, Israel

(12 November 1992 and 9 July 1993)

KWS: All right, first, tell me about your, briefly, your curriculum vitae in the foreign service. You, in the mid-’70s, where were you?

HB: In the mid-’70s, I was in Washington.

KWS: What dates?

HB: I was, I came to Washington ’70-’71 and ’75 and in 1979, I was DCM [Deputy Chief of Mission].

KWS: And before ’75?

HB: I was ambassador in the Hague.

KWS: During the ’73 War, you were in the Hague. So, we’re talking now in terms of ’75 to ’79. And after ’79?

HB: I was Deputy Director General here.

KWS: Until?

HB: ’87. End of ’87.

KWS: Eight years?

HB: Really nine.

KWS: Wow. Did anyone ever hold a post that long?

HB: I never looked at it.

KWS: Hanan, I would bet that I don’t think anyone ever did. I can’t remember in recent history that anyone held that position that long.

HB: I doubt it, but I never even thought about it.

KWS: You got to Washington December ’75?

HB: Mm-hmm.

KWS: What, uh, what do you remember about the [Yitzhak] Rabin government’s reaction to [President Jimmy] Carter’s election and the peace process?

HB: Not [unintelligible]. The Rabin government, Rabin personally, he was taken aback. He was unintelligible] and the public, the public and the administration and the [Gerald] Ford administration. In fact, I think he was taken aback but nothing until his first visit —

KWS: The March visit. Do you think he felt cornered by Carter when Carter told him what he thought Israel should do in terms of negotiations? Have to deal with the PLO, have to withdraw to borders with minor rectifications?

HB: Yeah, he was certainly taken aback and he was [unintelligible] taken aback, in that, I mean this happened again and apart from the fact that [unintelligible] or the President pressed on him during the visit.

KWS: He was taken aback by the press conference?

HB: Yeah. 

KWS: Exactly. 

HB: [Unintelligible] and this press conference was completely, eh, came out of the blue, unexpected. Nobody understood why.

KWS: Were you ever able to explain it later about what Carter was trying to do?

HB: I think this [unintelligible] he was so new at the job, that he didn’t quite know.

KWS: He didn’t understand the nuances.

HB: And didn’t understand probably even — except if you really want, which was [unintelligible] government, that you don’t care at all for it and yet you are — and the reasons were disastrous. Otherwise you don’t do a thing like this. I remember we got the news, emm, Rabin was getting an honorary degree from American University, and we were at an auditorium, somewhere. I can’t remember exactly where — and I think in this auditorium we got the news and the text of the presidential statement. And I remember I went up to Rabin and told him about this immediately after the ceremony. And he more or less said, “I don’t believe a word. I mean, you are fantasizing.” 

KWS: [Laughs.]

HB: We went back to Blair House. We were on the way, or he was already on the way, to the airport. And, eh, five hours took them into it, or he asked for five hours for him. They met privately I think I talked to [Roy] Atherton, Atherton more, I mean, [he] never said so, I mean [unintelligible]. The indication was that he was — I had no idea that the President would ever do something like this but I remember saying to Roy at that particular moment, “You know, the meaning I can conclude this as you wanted, [that] the president wants Rabin to lose the elections.” Roy of course denied everything but then Rabin came out from the lunch meeting and more or less said that it appears that he really means, means it, that this is not a revelation. It was a disaster.”

KWS: By then Carter had not made his Palestinian homeland speech. How did that grab you?

HB: Bad, not because it was the Palestinian homeland but because all those were catchwords.

KWS: And obviously he wasn’t consulting with you about these things.

HB: And he thinks that he’s throwing complete surprises over Israel.

KWS: But that came to be his normal behavior, to say things in public that most people had never said in public before.

HB: Yeah but, eh, don’t forget that you’re talking about the beginning of his administration. Not [unintelligible] the end of it. And then came, eh —

KWS: What did you think about the emphasis on this, on the comprehensive notion, comprehensive peace?

HB: All this looked —

KWS: Geneva —

HB: But, but Geneva — Geneva’s a different story. When we went to the Geneva Conference most, the subject matter all the time, in one form or the other. [Unintelligible] [Prime Minister Menachem] Begin [unintelligible] what everybody meant by it, but that was a, that was the normal talk.

KWS: In other words, it hung in the atmosphere.

HB: That was the framework but in which things in those days more or less moved. Don’t ever forget the days of [unintelligible]: Geneva, part of the story, ’75 agreements, ’75 [unintelligible]. The debate was [unintelligible] go?

KWS: After the, the step-by-step phased withdrawals.

HB: We continued step by step, not only on the [unintelligible but] how far can we go? I mean, those were the questions: “What are our relations with the United States?” They’ve now been more or less the — they thought like the [unintelligible]. They were the same way. A new administration comes and, eh, they will renounce those —

KWS: Renounce them?

HB: Yes, or simply not continue them. 

KWS: You, I mean, the trepidations existed that the new administration would put this on the shelf?

HB: Mm-hmm. Suddenly after the Clinton speech [Clinton, Massachusetts town hall meeting on March 16, 1977] —

KWS: That was the level of anxiety?

HB: Oh yes.

KWS: Interesting. I had not realized that.

HB: You take that this was something completely out of, out of nowhere. Eh, nobody really believed — studied them, they knew them — and —

KWS: Here he was. Would it be fair to say that you were put back on your heels by his statements?

HB: We were completely taken aback.

KWS: Did you fear Geneva as a consequence?

HB: Well, not only Geneva —

KWS: Or the comprehensive nature of it? You’re looking, your face looks bewildered to me.

HB: We, we were absolutely bewildered. We didn’t know that the president had got — he, {National Security Advisor Zbigniew] Brzezinski — not [Secretary of State Cyrus] Vance to that extent, he was [unintelligible] State Department [unintelligible.] [Unintelligible], I won’t hide it or [unintelligible], I mean, what of a thing to do!

KWS: And how did Rabin react after he’d left Washington now, after Clinton, after he had this meeting with Vance on the way to the airport? 

HB: He reacted — he reacted with deep anxiety, deep anxiety.

KWS: Would it be fair to say the trust level, whatever there was, began to dissipate? I don’t want to put words in your mouth. I’m just trying to get the tone of the feelings.

HB: Not the trust level. Look, here is the first meeting between the prime minister of Israel and the new president of the United States. He went to these meetings with the strangest types of affairs. From a very strange dinner to notions which certainly were not — there was there was no continuity there.

KWS: Mm. Let’s go sit outside.

HB: There was no continuity there.

KWS: No continuity?

HB: There was a fear that there’s no continuity because you had this strange business of this strange — didn’t quite understand. One impression that a “poor Arab or not poor Arab” —

KWS: It was inconsistent with what you had felt and what had developed under Ford and under Kissinger.

HB: Well, of course. And because it was a — Look, the sense — I’m not saying at the moment that this is what happened because, of course, (a) I don’t know, and (b) I don’t — today, I don’t believe. But the sense in those days —Shalom. Mah shlomcha? [Hello. How are you?] — the sense in those days was that you had a — the comprehensive— that the discontinuity was that here was not only what he had, but there was a record, they brought a record a negotiating record between us and Egypt, and mainly between us and the United States.

KWS: So it was a deviation. It was a large deviation.

HB: Hm?

KWS: It was a deviation. It was a large deviation.

HB: Not only large deviation but the sense there is no — there is discontinuity.

KWS: But you knew Carter was going to make a comprehensive approach and not step by step and not interim. You had that sense, didn’t you?

HB: Yeah, but, but, but —

KWS: I mean Atherton and [Hal] Saunders —

HB: Not so much comprehensive. Don’t forget it was the form and fashion. We were all [unintelligible]. Rabin was put off by Carter in the meeting, eh, “What is in your sense the next step?” And he said, “A peace treaty.” So, it is not, it is not the sense of comprehensive. It was this sudden eruption which came more or less out of the blue, that you go public with “Palestinian homeland,” that you are going public the Clinton speech, the press conference, that you are suddenly, publicly — the United States is publicly taking positions which it had not taken since Rogers [unintelligible; apparently refers to U.S. Secretary of State William Rogers’ 1969 plan].

KWS: Since Rogers? Hm.

HB: Now, eh —

KWS: So, it was the content as well as the style.

HB: It was the content. It was very much the style, but, eh, it was also the content that you are going public. And the form. This is not only style — the form and fashion how you approach this — because here, you are going public with the situation, with the position, even before you see the prime minister, eh —

KWS: — in Washington.

HB: — in Washington. And then you see him in Washington, you are going public and the press conferences is also having said, not only by your lead. Whatever.

KWS: You said to me inside just now, you said, the conference sort of hung over the air, I mean it was sort of what, everything was sort of —

HB: Yes.

KWS: — built around or within, whatever, I don’t know. How was it —

HB: Well, the framework, because it had never been completely enforced and since December ’73, the word “resumption” of Geneva became a — 

KWS: Concept.

HB: Concept and slogan and to be used —

KWS: “Reconvene Geneva.”

HB: Reconvene in Geneva. Everybody said, “I want— I’m prepared to reconvene in Geneva.”

KWS: What did you guys mean by that or what was your interpretation of a reconvened Geneva?

HB: No, our interpretation of a reconvened Geneva was precisely that. You reconvene in Geneva without any preconditions, um, on a face-to-face negotiation, within a Geneva formula in one form or the other and, eh, you simply reconvene particularly without, without preconditions.

KWS: But do you ratify something? I mean do you pre-negotiate something in advance and you ratify it at Geneva? Or you use Geneva as a place to do actual talking?

HB: Eh —

KWS: I mean did you really believe it would be like a Kissingerian Geneva where you would be, it would be a public forum but privately you would have done business with one another —

HB: Eh —

KWS: — and the place would be a rubber stamp. 

HB: Well, of course. I mean, the rubber stamp would be, eh, eh the plenary. But that you might start negotiating. Eh, the reconvention of Geneva was type of slogan but then of course it was [unintelligible] —

KWS: You think Carter was driven by the Brookings Report [“Toward Peace in the Middle East,” published 1975]?

HB: We thought so. I’m not sure that this was true.

KWS: Brzezinski told me yes. Unquestionably, it became their outline and parameter. In part because Hal Saunders and Roy Atherton and [William] Quandt and Brzezinski were all involved in it, or award of  it, and part because it made sense to Jimmy Carter because it was a blueprint and it outlined something he could follow. It was something he could follow, and it had a beginning, a middle, and an end, and for his mind that was — Okay.

HB: Yeah, we certainly talked about this very seriously.

KWS: Did, did you, did you look askance at Carter’s foreign policy team? Did you try and figure out now, “Who is it that’s feeding this guy this information? I mean, he doesn’t know much about the Middle East and he only took this one trip here in ’72, when he visited Golda.” You must have had some doubts about the people who were giving him advice.

HB: Oh yes.

KWS: Did it go beyond doubts? [Pause.] You made a distinction inside between Brzezinski and Vance.

HB: Yes. Look, we knew Vance.

KWS: You knew Vance?

HB: We knew Vance from previous information, [service}  when he was at the Pentagon, and we knew Vance, he’s decent, not that he is a Zionist or anything of that sort, certainly not. But we knew he was decent, straight. Brzezinski? Well —

KWS: Well?

HB: Well, there was — there were big doubts in those days, particularly he was — even in the first conflicts which we had with him, he was rather erratic.

KWS: Unpredictable.

HB: Unpredictable, was rather erratic and would range very enthusiastic about one thing and then he thought, “Well, this means it is policy.” And then it turned out it wasn’t policy at all. It was just —

KWS: He got excited about something.

HB: During this moment. The next moment he probably forgot about it. Or didn’t forget about it, but put it aside.

KWS: So his personal style didn’t add to the sense of continuity either?

HB: No, certainly not [laughs].

KWS: Did you think after the Rabin visit, that Carter was somehow naive about the Middle East? Or he’s just naive about how policy was made, how policy was conducted?

HB: I would imagine both of those. I can’t really tell you exactly what we thought, I don’t know.

KWS: Um, at what point did you begin to understand that the United States was considering a two-track policy, even within comprehensive, a two-track policy of Egypt and the Arab states, and uh, Israel and the Arab states and Israel and the Palestinian-Jordanian connection? When did that start to evolve, or when did you get a sense that it was beginning to evolve at the State Department?

HB: I would imagine only [unintelligible]. I mean between April and eh…

KWS: It’s precisely the time that Atherton says that they began to seriously consider the notion that somehow the West Bank would not immediately go back. It would be in some sort of transitional discussion that, ah, Atherton says that was the first time they began to write down the word transitional authority or transitional status or something that would not be, you wouldn’t go from A to B immediately, it would be through a period of time.

HB: Eh, these two did not — eh, we started — I think this is an unusual thing. This did not only originate in the United States.

KWS: Mm-hmm.

HB: Not at all. Eh, this was not crystallized. It wasn’t crystallized in those days.

KWS: Where?

HB: Here. Not in the United States really. Nor do I believe anywhere else. But the whole notion that there is [unintelligible] Palestinian leadership on the West Bank and that the King [Hussein of Jordan] cannot really deliver, that emm, I think became increasingly clear. And this is not— like many things, this is not a decision on one day of politics [unintelligible].

KWS: It evolved.

HB: [Unintelligible] evolving —

KWS: [unintelligible]

HB: — notion which stems out of the — 

KWS: — given realities at the time.

HB: — of a reality on the ground, that always comes out of the ground.

KWS: You said the King couldn’t deliver, meaning he couldn’t get around Rabat [1974 Arab Summit during which Jordan joined the other countries in declaring the PLO the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people]?

HB: He couldn’t get around Rabat and eh, repeal all that and he didn’t know what to do with Arafat. In other words, he is not — Rabat showed that he was not a free agent. Or at least that he did not believe himself to be a free agent. 

KWS: Right. So some alternative had to be found.

HB: And, eh, you see — obviously we all looking back now and therefore things are going to look different than they did.

KWS: It’s also much more easy to explain.

HB: Yeah. But Rabat was — the whole Rabat affair, Rabat decision was a dividing point. I mean this all, it was a benchmark.

KWS: It made it difficult, didn’t it?

HB: Oh certainly. It was a benchmark because it undermined to a very large extent the Jordanian solution.

KWS: Between Rabin’s [March 1977] visit and Begin’s [July 1977] visit, Sadat came to Washington [in April]. Umm, do you have any recollections of that visit and, uh, how you saw that relationship beginning?

HB: We were very apprehensive obviously, given the previous experience with the Carter Administration. Because at the beginning of the Carter Administration, it had became obviously very clear that the new administration is going to take a keen interest in this. The Carter Administration, we knew [unintelligible]. Well, we also thought, of course, that [unintelligible] probing to a certain extent, the president would want to find out who he is, what he is, and what he is faced with. Eh, we were not certain whether there would be any, quote unquote, “chemistry” between the two, but, eh, we couldn’t tell. Emm, again, it was difficult to get really word of knowing what really happened because —

KWS: But you had to write a cable [laughs].

HB: Yes, but we were rather shocked. Don’t forget we were still rather shell-shocked by the mess ups of, of the president. It’s distinct from the mess ups, eh, not of the previous administration but, but eh, the department and the foreign policy bureaucracy. And there was this loose cannon about him, with Brzezinski. And we never knew what, eh, what he is going to do.

KWS: Israel doesn’t like being surprised, does it?

HB: Well, nobody likes to be surprised. I mean, surprise — Israel certainly doesn’t like to be surprised. Eh, it’s obvious there’s still a larger than normal factor and everything. And there we were, faced with — we were also not sure in those days what are, what is the new administration’s attitude towards certain things.

KWS: Of course, in October it didn’t help either, but we’ll get there in a minute. Carter, Carter in his book, “I was looking forward to meeting with Rabin, you know as kind of a peg on which I could hang my whole Middle East peace ambitions. He was absolutely and totally uninterested; very timid, very stubborn, and somewhat ill-at-ease. The fact was that he had no interest at all in talking about negotiations. It was just like talking to a dead fish.” [Laughs.]

HB: Probably on the — Rabin would never put it in those terms.

KWS: [Laughs.]. You think so, huh?

HB: No, but eh, there were walls on both sides.

KWS: There wasn’t a lot of warm feeling.

HB: The, there is something else to be said about it. It is not, not directly, but it was inconceivable for us since the beginning when Rabin came and the president was not there, since there are general elections in Israel. In other words, on top of everything else, Carter wanted eh, by happenstance. You really are playing politics here.

KWS: You’re not sure he understood.

HB: We thought, or there were some people who thought, that he was deliberately trying to play politics to try and get a different government.

KWS: Make a distinction now, if you will, between Begin’s visit and Rabin’s visit. Begin came in mid-July, July 18th, 19th, 20th, something like that.

HB: It was the 17th, I think. That doesn’t make any difference. Emm, yeah, enormous difference. First, there was a difference in personalities. There is still the aftermath of the [unintelligible] election victory and the shock of Israeli political establishment. The change took place; Begin apprehensive to a certain degree, personally. I mean, his first visit to the president of the United States, an enormous affair, eh, but eh, full of hope, full of confidence, after 19 years in opposition. “I’ve been elected prime minister, I’ve got a government, I’ve [unintelligible]. I want to hope I’m going to put my country almost entirely [unintelligible] from previous ones, etc., etc.. [Unintelligible] certainly sensed a sense of euphoria on his part.

KWS: So, there’s a certain kind of apprehension and a certain kind euphoria sort of mixed together.

HB: Yeah.

KWS: You said he’s — you said something about new ideas.

HB: Well, he wants to put forward, eh — He’s going to tell the president, which he did, Begin’s connection, powerful connection, eh, “This is our land,” etc., etc., on the one hand. On the other hand, he built on previous — by the way, he did study the records of Rabin very carefully.

KWS: So Dan Pattir said he actually sat down and read the protocols.

HB: He sat down and read the protocols and he sat down and read the, read the cables. He knew things that most of us heard of. [Unintelligible], I mean, that —

KWS: Sure.

HB: Not — certainly not familiar to this. He knew exactly what everybody did, etc., etc.. And —

KWS: By then Eppi [Evron] had just become ambassador.

HB: No, not yet [unintelligible].

KWS: Eppi became ambassador when?

HB: Much later. He became ambassador after, eh, after Camp David.

KWS: Umm, after Begin met Sadat, uh, met Carter, he brought with him — because there’s a debate in the parliament here. [Moshe] Arens is head of the Foreign Affairs and Security Committee, and there’s a discussion about how Begin would treat this concept of a comprehensive peace in Geneva, and he bought this notion of proximity talks, that this was an alternative to having to deal with the P.L.O., that you could —

HB: Proximity talks have always been around. Proximity talks was not a new notion, proximity talks is a Kissinger idea. Eh, actually, probably more Kissinger era idea. Eh, proximity talks —

KWS: Goes back to Ralph Bunche.

HB: Goes back to Bunche. But all I can do is say to that [unintelligible] proximity talks. Proximity talks is not a new idea at all, has always been long term, eh —

KWS: So, what was it new that Begin brought to Washington?

HB: From his point of view —

KWS: Yeah.

HB: — the notion of this is to all of Eretz Yisrael. I mean —

KWS: What is it then, then what impression did he leave with Carter? I mean Carter must have walked away from that meeting saying, “My gosh, we just — we don’t even have territorial compromise now.”

HB: Yeah, but I would imagine that Carter walked away with, eh — I don’t know what Carter walked away with, I have no idea. Eh —

KWS: Well, how did you view it? You know, you saw, Rabin had come in March and you knew that Rabin was ready to talk about some sort of, you know, at least a measure of flexibility about these territories. Now Begin came with an ideological commitment and you, sitting in Washington must have realized that the day he left, you were going to have to deal with a new reality.

HB: Yes, of course.

KWS: And how were you prepared to handle that reality of administration that now was saying “My gosh, this guy is different.”?

HB: To Egypt.

KWS: Is that, is that what the Begin election did to the peace process?

HB: Mm-hmm.

KWS: In other words, was that Begin’s intention when he came, or was that the result that evolved because of his visit?

HB: No, I —

KWS: Because from that point on, Hanan, there’s a real definite historical beginning of finding a separate accommodation with Egypt, and moving again away from comprehensive. And I don’t think anybody intended it, but I think that was the unintended result. 

HB: Uh.

KWS: Please correct me if I’m wrong.

HB: No, I mean — This is not a deliberate, eh, — but it was very clear that Begin did nothing for accommodation with Egypt and possibly with Syria. Eh, look, if there would have been an opening to Syria, it would have happened. But there wasn’t. It was a different story. Eh, but there is certainly, eh, this is all the time around. Don’t forget — I mean the Israeli considerations are not only diplomatic and not only political; from the, eh, foreign policy considerations, the Israeli, eh, the Israeli is — there is a security consideration involved, so we tune in news all the time. Emm, none of us, not one of us — there was still a debate in Israel, that was about ’72, how far the Soviets are in or are out. And Soviets are still around, Soviets are deeply entrenched in Syria, eh, the fear of an outbreak of war is still, is still here. In other words, all of those considerations are there. Eh, political considerations are always playing an enormous role, an immediate one. Eh, therefore, you are —

Waitress: [Unintelligible.]

KWS: No, we’ve had breakfast, thank you.

HB: Eh, therefore, to get anything, anywhere, around us, there’s all different desires involved. [Unintelligible], eh, we always thought, eh, nobody believed, really, nobody ever believed, a comprehensive settlement with everybody was at all possible. It was not in the cards. Emm, the sections here that, eh, in any, if you’ve got a mind to [unintelligible] Arab, many Arabs present, you are going to get the lowest common denominator. The lowest common denominator is not far removed from Khartoum [“Three No’s” signed by Arab nations in 1967 Khartoum Resolution.]

KWS: Ayfo [Meir] Rosenne? [Where is Rosenne?]

HB: Eh, [unintelligible]. I mean, the experience is there, and Khartoum is there, and Rabat is there, etc., etc.. Eh, therefore a comprehensive peace is something that the Americans might want, but is actually not realistic [unintelligible].

KWS: Not achievable.

HB: Not achievable, therefore, you go along with a Geneva kind of idea, because this is a diplomatic failure in which you live for the moment. But you don’t go, you don’t really believe that this is going to happen. Therefore, don’t forget, for a long time, for a very long time there is [unintelligible] that Hussein would try that. This, after Rabat, becomes increasingly unrealistic. 

KWS: And makes the possibility of Hussein’s option increasingly unrealistic. [Pause.]

HB and KWS: Uh — 

KWS: Go ahead.

HB: The independent Palestinian notion on the West Bank, emm, is complete—, is certainly not crystallized and we don’t quite see how this can be achieved. There is, theoretically, Syria. Syria doesn’t, nobody believes there’s any hope in Syria because it’s obvious they are there, Assad is there, eh, the whole Syrian stance is as it is. But there is always the biggest part: Egypt. Emm, it is 1970, there is an experience in 1971, Jarring [Mission], etc., etc.. There is 1972, in spite of what happened in ’73, but more than anything else, there is experience of the step-by-step, the shuttle. The Kissinger shuttle, eh, the interim agreements. In other words, there is a framework on which you can build, there are interim agreements. Eh, there is a sign of [unintelligible]. Eh, there is a whole framework here.

KWS: Did Begin send out a signal that he wanted to deal with Egypt?

HB: Where? In Washington?

KWS: Anywhere.

HB: Oh, yeah.

KWS: How?

HB: [Unintelligible] around. But those signals have been signals all the time in one form or the other. Emm — 

KWS: But was it any different in July of ’77 than it had been previously?

HB: No.

KWS: Why? Sadat on the 16th of July gives a speech before the Arab Socialist Union in which he calls for [Arabic words] salaam, a peace treaty with Israel. It’s the first time he said it publicly. And how did you respond? Now he says this a day before Begin arrives in Washington. People were listening very closely here. You know, they listen to every word the guy says. You must have been getting a message from him.

HB: Well, maybe not only from him. I think we sent out a message, emm. Look, the Tuhami talks came in summer — 

KWS: September.


KWS: Ceausescu before October, before November?

HB: Yeah.

KWS: Begin’s visit with Ceausescu.

HB: Mm-hmm, emm, and there is all the time the one thing. The —

KWS: I mean did you and Ashraf [Marwan, confidant of Egyptian President Sadat] talk about these things?

HB: Mm-hmm?

KWS: Did you have an occasion to talk to Ashraf about these things at all?

HB: Talking to [unintelligible] is not good.

KWS: Not even informally?

HB: Not even informally. No connections at all, direct connections. Eh, Ashraf — eh, the Egyptians, I mean there was never any direct contact except those that you know.

KWS: Why do you think Carter handled Begin with more tender gloves than he did Rabin? I mean clearly it was a different, a different visit.

HB: Different visit, it was a different affair. He, I think, to be very fair, he had been longer in office. He had, in the meantime, seen other foreign leaders. Don’t forget, the Rabin visit was one of the first visits to, eh, to Washington, I think it was the first state dinner which —

KWS: Carter —

HB: Carter had. There’s number one. B) I get the impression that he was to a certain extent, I wouldn’t say awed, that’s much too — he was in — Begin’s personality was so actually strange to him, and yet he, he — I think, I’m not sure that they did [unintelligible] admiration for it or not, I can’t remember at the moment, but I think it was during the first visit that Begin had invited Carter for a Friday night [Shabbat dinner] at the Blair House –It must have been so surrealistic, but, eh, eh — I would imagine that this someone or the other spoke to, to Carter, eh, Begin quoting the bible, which in his wildest dreams, Rabin would never quote the bible. 

KWS: [Laughs.]

HB: It never occurred to him.

KWS: [Continues to laugh.] Yes, it’s not part of his weltanschauung [German for world view].

HB: It, eh, you know, Rabin doesn’t quote but, eh, period. Eh, here Carter’s talking, it’s a beginning, you know lofty ideas, I’m not saying that this was not the substance of the talk. But Rabin — 

KWS: Mmm.

HB: — wouldn’t respond to this at all because he would never respond to anything like this.

KWS: What, what happened with the Ceausescu connection that made Begin begin to, to evolve, or to re-ignite the Egyptian option, if I can call it that? 

HB: Here, none of us has got the complete record, obviously. And I don’t have the record. Don’t forget there is one big difference in all this, there is Dayan.

KWS: There is?

HB: There is Dayan!

KWS: Dayan.

HB: Dayan, who since 1970 — well, actually even earlier. Actually it was in ’67, even before the war, emm, who always, who was, much more realized the Egyptian sensibilities. Eh, Dayan who did not want to go to Sinai— to Suez, to the Canal. Dayan, who truly said, “Sharm el-Sheikh or peace” or “peace or Sharm el-Sheikh.” But still, Dayan who always said, “We cannot sit on the canal. Egypt cannot, can never agree with something like this,” and had actually advocated in 1970 partial withdrawal and so on and so forth. In other words, Dayan who all the time looked at Egypt, eh, who badly wanted to get some kind of a peace agreement, even so when he was not in office, very much in favor of the partial agreements, but wanted to go beyond them — eh, none of us knows what happened in the private conversations between Dayan and Begin before Dayan was appointed. But I personally harbor any doubt that Dayan told Begin, “Look, would you please let me go that direction?” Again, I don’t know and I don’t think anybody knows, what [unintelligible] normally for accommodations, but, eh, I suspect that Dayan in all this should never be forgotten for one moment.

KWS: How did the Soviets’ presence in Syria play on both of these guys?

HB: Enormously.

KWS: More so one than the other?

HB: First of all, on Dayan. But I think on, on — Look, the Soviet threat — I’ve tried to say even the Soviet presence in the Middle East, in Syria, loom extremely large. And the fear that this could also happen again in Egypt, in spite of 1972 and in spite of everything, and still, there was a re-supply after ’73 — this loomed very large. The Soviet part of it in general, eh, was an integral part of our, eh, our Israeli thinking.

KWS: But in the summer of ’77, how serious was creating a separate peace with Egypt, in the foreign ministry? I mean, was it a dream? Was it a reality?

HB: It was a dream. Nothing more. It was not a reality. Emm, there were very few people — Look, what happened in the Ministry, I can’t tell you. I was in Washington. But, emm, I doubt very much indeed — Dayan, of course, did not share a single part of his thoughts except probably a little bit with Eli [Rubenstein], a little bit with Naftali Levi, but not very much. Emm, he did not share. He never shared with anybody, but that is neither here nor there. But, eh, let me first of all say one thing: You just used the term separate peace which from [unintelligible] views, an Israeli, from Israeli point of view, with anybody around here, you would never have heard that—

KWS: Term.

HB: Term. You would have heard “peace with Egypt” or “peace with Syria” or “peace with Jordan.” Nobody has ever considered, and still does not consider this a “separate peace.” “What do you mean separate peace?” Eh —

KWS: That’s a very important point, Hanan. 

HB: This is the point.

KWS: The matter of terminology is extraor—

HB: It is an extremely important point because in Israeli perception, Egypt declared war on the Israelis, Jordan declared war on Israel, Syria declared war on Israel, Lebanon declared war on Israel, and have never been terminated. There is no sense that there is a comprehensive — the term “comprehensive peace” is not — 


KWS: Damn machine. 


KWS: Hanan Bar-on, Tape 2, November 12th, 1992.

HB: You know, I mean, I return to this dealing with “separate peace.”

KWS: Go ahead.

HB: This whole notion of “comprehensive peace” with the precondition of peace is that everybody must agree and, therefore, basically you are needing to put a stimulus, or, or [unintelligible] anybody, eh, if they try to veto. Uh, it was something which was, was never was accepted by Israel, and may I say, to a large extent, it’s still not accepted. Eh, Israel did not consider itself, eh — never considered the peace with Egypt something which has got eh, which has got any connotation of a different type of — don’t forget that the term “comprehensive, separate peace,” eh, has got a certain connotation which still stems from First World War and Second World War. In other words, somebody leaves Israel, an alliance, somebody stabs him in the back or something of that sort.

KWS: [Laughs.]

HB: Eh, everybody looked here at peace as an idea which is completely laudable with whomever you can get peace. If we would have been able to get peace with Yemen — and I’m now exaggerating — we would have taken it with the greatest of pleasure. So, I’m thinking only —

KWS: Let’s move to Vance’s, move to September.

HB: [Unintelligible.]

KWS: Dayan comes to Washington. Vance has asked both Egypt and Israel for draft peace treaties. Uh —

HB: [Unintelligible.]

KWS: And, umm, Dayan comes to Washington after his visit in Morocco, uh, he has a meeting with Vance in the State Department, in the afternoon they go over and see Carter, and the discussions deal with Geneva, they deal with procedures. Um, describe for me that visit: Dayan’s attitude toward Vance, toward Carter, toward the process at that juncture.

HB: Well, Dayan’s attitude there, of course, entirely different. We are now talking about the first time Dayan visited.

KWS: Yes.

HB: Eh, they’re entirely different. Eh, Dayan wanted to get to know them, want to understand them. Eh, Dayan takes a very down-to-earth attitude. He’s not terribly impressed by — at all what everybody had said before about Carter doing this or the other thing. You know, all this not, it’s not a terrible — not of enormous importance. Dayan wants to move things along, if he can. Don’t forget, Dayan came up to the, [Egyptian Deputy Prime Minister Hassan] Tuhami at the Moroccan visit, but we knew very little about this. They were very closed mouthed about this and rightly so. He wasn’t certain at all that it would work out. And Dayan wants to know what is in the United States mind, how does it work. It’s a — the first Dayan visit was very much of a talking visit from his point of view, if I understood him correctly. And I must [unintelligible].

KWS: Did he talk at all to you guys about his meeting with [Jordan’s King] Hussein in London in early September [actually, late August, 1977]?

HB: Well, we knew about it but he didn’t talk. Dayan never talked about anybody. Dayan was very close-mouthed. And, eh, Dayan knew all about, in one form or the other, but — Dayan had no good —

KWS: What was Dayan’s attitude about Geneva, about the conference? He wanted to get away from it? Did — he had trepidations about this notion that Carter was now pursuing? I mean when Vance came out here in August, he came out here in August with all sorts of procedures and how do you get there. In fact, the negotiations in Washington were essentially what would the Palestinian delegation be. I mean, there was a lot of detail [unintelligible].

HB: There was a great deal of detail about this. Look, Dayan — Dayan’s attitude was anything which could go, that would go. You know —

KWS: If it works, that’s fine?

HB: If it works, it’s fine. It — Dayan is, doesn’t have any enormous hang-ups about —

KWS: Procedure.

HB: It was [unintelligible] fine. It was [unintelligible].

KWS: He wasn’t wedded. Like Carter was wedded to comprehensive peace in Geneva, Dayan was not wedded to a procedure.

HB: Certainly not. Dayan was not wedded to anything except peace, except to breakthrough somewhere.

KWS: Someone said his own ego. 

HB: Ah, that’s a different story, but eh, Dayan just wanted to move complicated characters around — complex eh, but eh, Dayan was not wedded to any —

KWS: But the tone of the meetings that he had with Carter and Vance were not what you could call warm. It was not a warm departure.

HB: Look, we’re not warm. But Dayan, uh, never has got a warm —

KWS: No, but there was a difference of opinion, forget about the, the — Dayan’s personality. 

HB: Yeah.

KWS: I mean it’s like dealing sometimes with an iceberg when you deal with Dayan. He just doesn’t warm up.

HB: Yeah. Dayan is Dayan.

KWS: Exactly. And that’s how everyone describes him. Dayan is — But there was a negative atmosphere that Carter at least felt that when Dayan left — and I get the sense that that bad taste in Carter’s mouth carried over to that meeting with him in, at the U.N. in October, that there was this — Rather than seeing these as two separate meetings, two weeks apart, there was still in Carter’s head the sense that Israel was just not being forthcoming enough, Israel was the obstacle to getting to Geneva, and Carter was very, very frustrated and he let it out on Dayan.

HB: Well, we didn’t expect very much from Carter but, eh, don’t forget this, I mean he still had the [unintelligible], all this which happened previously in our memory. And, eh, this was very, very difficult, eh, but eh, I don’t think that from Dayan’s point of view, Dayan considered this important but, but, but this is a continuation. Obviously, we’re going to object to certain things. He will not, eh —

KWS: Did he make his commitment that there would only be settlements of a military variety? And Carter thought that to be, “Wow, you know, I’ve made progress here.” And then Dayan goes back and they establish another civilian settlement and Carter goes bonkers.

HB: Well, if he —

KWS: I mean, Carter told me it absolutely drove him batty, drove him nuts, that the Israelis would say one thing, or at least Dayan would say, “Well, I have to go back and check with the Prime Minister,” but have the feeling that he’d gotten something and then, within a week —

HB: You see, I think Dayan was very honest about it. Dayan checked, by the way, on everything. Checked.

KWS: With the Prime Minister.

HB: With the Prime Minister and the Cabinet. He always did this on nearly everything, and which was utterly [unintelligible]. Now Dayan didn’t want anything else except settlements on a military basis. Dayan didn’t want anything —

KWS: See, Carter saw this as an Israeli ploy —

HB: Mm-hmm.

KWS: — to make promise A and then do, do B. 

HB: You see this wasn’t the case.

KWS: No, I’m just telling you what he’s told me.

HB: Yes, I know.

KWS: Okay. 

HB: It was an incom—

KWS: They seemed to be talking past one another.

HB: Yes, they always talked past each other. Well, not always, but most of the time. By the way, the Dayan-Carter relationship was never really important.

KWS: Dayan came to Atlanta between the October 1st [1977 U.S.-Soviet] declaration and his [October 4, 1977] meeting at the U.N. with Carter and Vance and Atherton, that marathon session with Meir Rosenne, and Dayan was in Atlanta and I remember he gave a press conference, and I was sitting at the press conference and someone asked him about Palestinian representation and he said, “Anachnu lo muchanim, l’vdok et hatzitzit shalehem” [“We’re not ready to check the tassels of their tallit.”]. 

HB: That’s right.

KWS: In other words, he didn’t care so much. He just wanted —

HB: I mean — This was a phrase which Begin later on often used. It’s a great, eh — I’m afraid I will have to leave in ten minutes.

KWS: Okay. Umm, tell me about the reaction to the U.S.-Soviet declaration. Umm, your reaction to it, I mean obviously you’re surprised. What did it fit in with the context of how Carter administration did things?

HB: Well, springing surprises, not giving, not giving a hint, at all. Eh [pause], we were utterly taken aback and we were also utterly taken aback that the United States was prepared, not to go such lengths only towards us, but to go to such lengths also towards the Soviets and largely, to cave in to the Soviets.

KWS: So you saw this as them really relinquishing a lot to Moscow?

HB: Yes. In a way we saw this as a normal Soviet coup.

KWS: How did Begin read it?

HB: Well, we don’t quite know. But of course he, obviously he had some feelings, but apart from going on feelings, he — don’t forget, the [unintelligible] was extremely fast.

KWS: Very fluid, very fluid. Yes, indeed.

HB: Was extremely fast. I remember Scoop’s, Scoop Jackson’s [unintelligible]. He went livid. This was not us who made him go livid. He went livid. Better talk to Richard Pearle about this. But he went livid. I remember, I went to see him. I can’t remember anymore, I think he initiated the meeting, I don’t think he, he did — Anyway, [unintelligible], he must have been — I think that it might already then it was published, I think now, or something of that sort. He went utterly livid, you know, he did not only feel this in Middle Eastern terms, but in Soviet terms. And not only him, but we got calls from, I think — we got calls from people — and I’m not talking about Jews — from people who —

KWS: That he didn’t expect to hear from.

HB: That he didn’t expect to hear from, you know, that America gave in to the Soviet Union. That was beyond, I mean, the wildest stories about — or not stories, but theories [unintelligible] dealing with God knows what, not only on Israeli terms or Middle Eastern terms. Part of this was things changing in the U.S. politics [unintelligible] and the Washington stories, what really — [unintelligible], what is here, who did what to whom, and etc., [unintelligible], but —

KWS: I’m not gonna ask you to speculate on why Sadat went to Jerusalem, I’ve, I talked to enough people about that and everyone has their own reasons. Umm — And his visit here, you weren’t here, you were —

HB: No, I wasn’t. I was [unintelligible].

KWS: But tell me about Begin’s visit to Washington in the middle of December. What did he hope to accomplish on that visit with Carter, after Sadat’s visit?

HB: He wanted to present to Carter his blueprint, his idea of what he wanted to achieve. Eh, in a great deal of discussions within the Israeli camp why, that he should have come or he shouldn’t have come or should have come [unintelligible] before Ismailia, why — He wanted American backing.

KWS: He wanted Carter to ratify the ideas? When he came back, he submitted the ideas to the cabinet and they altered some of what he had presented to Carter.

HB: Look, by the way — again, I must say, Begin in those things was always very, very clear. He said, “I have to take it to the cabinet.” The trouble is the Americans didn’t take all of this very seriously.

KWS: No, they saw it as a stalling mechanism and as a way to get out of commitment. Every time. And every American policymaker I’ve spoken to, Atherton, Saunders, Quandt, Sisco, Carter, each one of them —

HB: I know, but you see, there is one problem about all of this. The Americans, the American side never quite realized that in order to do this, policy politics — they never had to think Israeli politics.

KWS: They didn’t have to worry about Begin’s domestic opposition.

HB: Not only domestic opposition, I mean.

KWS: Just how coalition politics works in general.

HB: A) how coalition politics works in general and there is something else: There are coalition agreements. For example, his coalition agreement with Dash [the Democratic Movement for Change party] were coalition agreements which gave Dash —

KWS: Certain prerogatives.

HB: Certain prerogatives and certain ideas. This is something which — It is terribly difficult for any American to understand because they talk about, they in terms of the presidential regime, “and the president says,” or the president, more or less, anything which he says can be kept. Begin had enormous powers within the Cabinet, obviously, but not absolute ones. And he had to take into account that there is, that he —

KWS: His situation [unintelligible] —

HB: — that “I, I have to go to the Cabinet, to the government.” He meant it. On top of this, he was a stickler for positions of powers, etc., etc., and legality, and all that stuff. But apart from this, he, he truly had to do so. Now coalition politicians over here always said that he should have brought, or that any prime minister should bring with him, before he goes, for a thorough discussion, but then come forwards. There, there is always the danger of leakage and therefore, how do you do policy in a coalition which leaks like a sieve? He, by the way, had problems within his own party.

KWS: Particularly with whom?

HB: [Chaim] Landau for example, was still alive. He’s [unintelligible]. In my opinion, it would [unintelligible] without Landau, was there anymore [unintelligible].

KWS: Yes.

HB: Etc., etc….

KWS: What contribution do you think Begin made after this visit toward pulling Sadat toward this peace with Egypt? What did he do specially to nourish or nurture or [long pause] By staying firm about the territories, by staying firm about the P.L.O., by being sure that Egypt and the Americans understood what would not be, and keeping that foot right on the line and not wavering?

HB: Number one, and number two, by sticking to course. I mean, everything which you were saying, he never faltered. I mean, already at that time it was [Ezer] Weizman and Dayan playing an enormous role in all this. But, eh, “Yes, I want peace with Egypt.”

KWS: He said that? How early did he say it?

HB: From the moment Sadat arrived.

KWS: But did he say it in September and October? Did you get an inkling that’s what they wanted? 

HB: September and October is an entirely different story, everything was still — there was no — it wasn’t at all clear whether this day would ever come. What the — September and October, the preoccupation was with, eh —

KWS: Geneva.

HB: With Geneva and —

KWS: What you’re telling me is that the political environment is very, very clouded in September and October with rancor, with procedure, with substance, with meetings and Sadat’s visit almost cleared —

HB and KWS: — the air. 

HB: Completely.

KWS: It was like a big, big thunderstorm and all of a sudden, the sun came out.

HB: Yes. And then, I mean don’t forget, American hesitations until the beginning of December.

KWS: Why did, why did they hesitate? I mean, you were in Washington. What, what was, what was the reason? Did you ever fathom it?

HB: We tried to fathom it all the time and eh, it came always up against one thing: There is con— there is confidence, there is no comprehensive peace. It goes against the grain of the administration, it goes again comprehensive peace, this is, eh, [unintelligible] ideas are completely torn to pieces, Sadat stabbed, stabbed us in the back.

KWS: Mm-hmm. When did Begin next come to Washington? 

HB: March [1978]? I think it was March.

KWS: And then the next time, of course, was Camp David.

HB: Yeah.

KWS: What is your recollection of the settlements controversy?

HB: After, after Camp David?

KWS: Yeah.

HB: In the framework of Camp David?

KWS: Yeah.

HB: Begin was convinced it was not made clear by anybody.

KWS: It wasn’t made clear that there would be a three-month moratorium?

HB: It wasn’t made clear that there was a three-month moratorium and it wasn’t made clear that 

there would be moratorium for the whole period of negotiations. Because there was an assumption, eh, there was an unspeak — unspoken assumption, eh, well, eh, the negotiations were going to be quick. It won’t take long for these things. There certainly was no assumption that during the interim period there would be no, no settlements. At least not on our side, this was not, it was not — one did not write, eh, try to get it this way. I would imagine that in Carter’s eyes this was sincere that he thought that this was the assumption. In the morning, after Camp David, this whole thing erupted. Both of us, and up and down on this, this business, in the [unintelligible], eh, under those circumstances all of this was — Begin exploded. So did Carter. Both of them exploded. Eh, both of them thought that the other one was trying to go back on the agreement. 

KWS: When did you begin to detect, after Camp David, that the Carter Administration was willing to sacrifice its interest in an agreement on autonomy, for the Egypt—, in order to save the Egyptian-Israeli framework? Now, there’s some time in October and November, whether it was before Blair House [the conference opened October 2, 1978], or during Blair House, or after Blair House, Carter was prepared to salvage the Egyptian-Israeli part at the expense of the West Bank framework. In fact, he wanted, he wanted the treaty signed before the congressional elections [November 7, 1978]. And Sadat wanted the treaty signed, but also wanted linkage stated publicly before the Baghdad Summit [Arab League summit opened November 2, 1978]. I mean, time was working on both of these guys. What is your recollection in Washington at the time of how you saw this play working out between Begin, who wanted, who was very, apparently, was extraordinarily tight in controlling the negotiations. I mean, he was not going to let this out of his hands even if he was here. And he was not going to let go on the priority of obligations issue and was not going to let go on the linkage issue.

HB: The priority of obligations issue, eh, eh, Begin controlled part of it, but on the priority of obligations issue, everybody was tight.

KWS: Everybody was?

HB: Everybody on the Israeli side was tight.


KWS: Everyone was, what was the word you used?

HB: Everybody was tight.

KWS: Tight. In other words, this priority of obligations issue was not something you were going to be moved on? And Carter understood that?

HB: I think so. I think that we gave [unintelligible] and Carter looked [unintelligible]. And I think Carter trusted [Aharon] Barak.

KWS: After Camp David he had to because Barak helped made it —

HB: Yeah.

KWS: — make it reality. And the linkage issue?

HB: Linkage issue, Dayan almost tried also the linkage issue. The linkage issue — Look, here you’re coming back to this whole, something which I said before. The semantics: separate peace and comprehensive peace. For us, this was a peace treaty. This was true we had linked it, but, eh — See here, you’re coming, of course, to divergent ideas. Dayan’s idea of autonomy was entirely different from Begin’s idea of autonomy.

KWS: Dayan’s was functional.

HB: What, eh, Dayan was functional and he was prepared to go from that point of view much —

KWS: Further.

HB: Further than, eh —

KWS: He wasn’t ideologically in cement.

HB: Not only ideologically, he, eh — Don’t forget that Dayan in his speech when he was Minister of Defense and he was dealing with, eh, territories, always was of the opinion, “Don’t let them pull them there too much.” 

KWS: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

HB: Look, I will be late.

KWS: Fine, that’s fine. Definitely.


KWS: Interview with Hanan Bar-on, Jerusalem, Israel. July 9, 1993. International Middle East peace conference book, ’78, ’79, ’80.

KWS: You want to do this now or you —

HB: Yeah. 

KWS: — want to eat? When I last talked to you, we had gone through pretty much, through all of 1977. And what I’d like you to do is to take us into the 80s if you possibly could.

HB: Mm-hmm.

KWS: But I’d like you to start this way. When you look — when you were deputy director general of the foreign ministry in the 80s, and you saw the Reagan statement, or you heard about it, and you look back on the U.S.-Soviet communique, and you look back on Carter’s articulation of the Aswan formula, and you look back on the Palestinian homeland speech, did it occur to you at all that maybe the Americans still hadn’t gotten the message that it had to consult with Israel?

HB: Always, certainly. But we never, I at least, never assumed that the message with the United States would get or be used, an automatic one. In other words, I had always the impression that this is one subject on which one has to talk and talk and talk and talk, and try and convince everybody anew. 

KWS: Anew?

HB: Yes, our consultations [unintelligible] because instinctive — don’t take one thing. Eh, I’m not saying that I thought that usually the times I didn’t — I think I always understood that in American-Israeli relations, in American-Israeli relations, we are tiny and the United States is enormous. We are not looked in a way that’s exaggerated. We are nobody in the United States. It’s the superpower. This being so, consultations is something which we desire but it is never going to come automatically, and it is not going to be — we are never going to be uppermost in the United States’ mind, and therefore even if they did it with the Middle East — In other words, I’ve always looked at this [unintelligible] task to try to convince the United States that it might be worthwhile to consult. But the United States would never consult or would automatically not consult with us, I assume, simply, as a fact of life.

KWS: Is Israel expecting more in the bilateral relationship than other states, in terms of consultation, in terms of shaping, drafting, defining, revising policies?

HB: I don’t know what other states expect.

KWS: I mean, it’s called a “special relationship.”

HB: Look, it’s called a “special relationship,” but it’s — alright, we thought it’s a special relationship and we certainly did not expect anything more than — at least I didn’t, I can’t say for [unintelligible]. Emm, I never expected more. I would have always thought that we might be more or less on par with some of the European allies, but [pause] and the United States might consider us an ally. Don’t forget that this is a completely unequal relationship. [Unintelligible.] So, there we are, I’m not sure, I don’t know what we — I have always thought in any too high expectations on the part of the government or the people or the media of Israel, that —

KWS: Why did Dayan think the relationship with the United States was so important? [That is,] as compared to Weizman, who said, “Well, we can do without them.” Well, not say that we could do without them, but not do with them is such an intrusive, intervening fashion.

HB: Dayan was always convinced by [unintelligible] members [unintelligible]. Without the United States — don’t forget that we are still talking about the days when the Soviet Union existed — without the United States, the intrusion of the Soviet Union into the area is going to become much bigger. The one factor which can hold, can hold the Soviet Union back is the United States. It is only the United States which eventually at the end, it will be able to do something constructive in the area as far as the Arabs are concerned, then the Soviet Union cannot, in spite of its seemingly limitless power, etc., particularly with economic side. Therefore, most Arab countries are interested in, in improving their relations with the United States. This is a lever, a powerful lever. Again, therefore the United States had at the end something else. The difference between us and the Arabs are too large. Whenever we meet with certain parties, we try and bridge them, or at least help us bridging them; we can’t bridge them directly. Emm, his basic conviction had been when Sadat came to us, take this as an example, that eventually the United States wanted to improve its relations with the — Egypt’s relations with the world. I remember Dayan once saying to me, or asking, maybe we are talking about ’72, about the Egyptian switch, or rather when the Egyptians threw the Soviets out — or part of them out. Eh, Dayan remarked on this conversation, “Obviously, he did this not only because he wanted to get the Soviets out, but because he wanted the Americans in.” Eh, so, I think it was Dayan’s basic conviction was that they [unintelligible] which cannot move without the United States.

KWS: But Weizman never looked at it that way?

HB: Weizman and other people, they always believed that in direct — direct talks, direct negotiations, direct this, direct the other thing, emm, can bring about solutions. Eh, I think Dayan was more, was always much more skeptical about this. 

KWS: Is this why Dayan had problems in his relationship with Sadat, and Weizman didn’t? Or were there other things?

HB: No.

KWS: Where there other —

HB: I think he believed [unintelligible]. Dayan is a different personality. Dayan was much less, in those days, we are talking about way back but he didn’t [unintelligible] very much. Emm, Dayan was an introvert and not really an extrovert with people who he didn’t know. I think it was his personal [unintelligible], where Weizman is very outgoing, 

KWS: Gregarious. 

HB: Gregarious, yes.

KWS: Extrovert.

HB: And emm, [unintelligible], Weizman is [unintelligible]. You can read his sincerity or non-sincerity on his face just like this. I mean, you don’t have to look at it. Dayan, rather inscrutable, and until Dayan smiled, it took a long time. When he did, it was a capturing one, a very capturing smile, very engaging. But he did this very rarely. And I can very well see why men like Sadat would have taken to Weizman like a house on fire, and not take to such an extent to Dayan. And then, if the moment he doesn’t take to Dayan, then, of course, this whole thing becomes complicated. And I think that all — I’m not sure at all whether this whole thing was political convictions, this or the other thing. If his relations with Sadat would have been much better, I don’t doubt whether this would have changed very much the political direction.

KWS: Last time you told me, I remember quite explicitly, you said Dayan and Carter didn’t have a relationship.

HB: Right.

KWS: I mean, it was business, but that was it.

HB: That was it. No —

KWS: No rapport.

HB: No rapport at all, which wasn’t true with Vance.

KWS: Dayan —

HB: He did have a rapport with Vance and Vance had a rapport with him.

KWS: Why?

HB: I don’t know. Vance, Cy Vance enormously admired Dayan. And B) I can’t tell you. I don’t know. Strange things happened there, but, but, but —

KWS: There was a chemistry between them.

HB: There was a chemistry. There was something there which I can’t tell you why and I can’t tell you how, and I don’t think any one of them could have told you and can tell you still why. Emm —

KWS: Dayan seems to have been, in the period of 1977, maybe ’78, the one connection that the Americans had to Begin that was continuous, frank, honest, and forthright. And one that wasn’t embroiled in bitterness. They didn’t like [Simcha] Dinitz, they couldn’t trust him, they disliked his running to the press. The Israelis didn’t like Brzezinski. Umm, they didn’t really trust the boys like Atherton, Quandt, Saunders, and Sisco. They were all sort of packs of the old days, the Arabists. I mean, there seems to be this one connection that seemed to be Moshe Dayan. And Begin was an unknown. Is that wrong, Hanan?

HB: No, it isn’t wrong. 

KWS: I mean, after the Rabin visit. 

HB: There was Sam Lewis.

KWS: Yes. Sam and Dayan.

HB: It was Sam’s relationship with Dayan which I think became the most important part in this.

KWS: Really?

HB: Look, for a very simple reason. I was in Washington and I can tell you, the department made — the White House made less and less use of the embassy, of their ambassadors.

KWS: Whose? Whose?

HB: Ours. Of Dinitz.

KWS: Yes. He had become marginalized.

HB: Yeah. 

KWS: [Unintelligible.]

HB: It was a function of two things. One of them is that you had a good ambassador in Tel Aviv. We mentioned that before. 

KWS: Mm-hmm.

HB: Active, and who had developed a relationship — prime minister, foreign minister — much lesser in those days with defense. I’m talking ’77, ’78. But he had developed that type of relationship, so you use automatically that channel, with what was available. And then it turned out that through Dayan, that if Dayan is prepared to take up the [unintelligible] for something, that this is an effective affair. That is not easy with, with Begin, he isn’t, yes? But he is so — he is prepared to fight for this up to a certain point. Up to a certain point. And so he had a very natural affair.

KWS: Hmm. In ’78, umm, Atherton, after the breakdown of the political committee talks, he and [Michael] Sterner or he and [David] Korn came out here several times, February, March, April, trying to evolve these nine points and so-called declaration of principles. What did Begin think about this interlude from the political committee talks until Leeds [Castle, site of talks in July 1978]? What was going on — [Yechiel] Kadishai couldn’t give me an answer — what was going on in Begin’s mind about the peace process, or was Israel deflected by the excursion into Lebanon? I mean, did it just sort of hang there for a bit and then was resurrected? There seems to be no — other than marking time — nothing more in the diplomatic process than this Atherton shuttle, finding vague declarations of principles, until we get to Leeds and the invitation to Camp David. And I’m trying to look for something that might not be there.

HB: I don’t think there was much there. Look, let me say, I was in Washington and [unintelligible] makes it difficult.

KWS: Sure.

HB: Emm, and in Washington, it preoccupied us all the time, this concept. And the shuttle [unintelligible], all those, Atherton, etc., etc.. I mean this, all this, preoccupied us in Washington. So, I don’t know.

KWS: What did, what did Begin get out of his March trip? He did come in March.

HB: The March trip was very good as you know.

KWS: No, I don’t know. 

HB: Mm-hmm?

KWS: I don’t know. 

HB: Eh.

KWS: I don’t know anything about the March trip. 

HB: The March trip was [unintelligible].

KWS: I mean Sadat was there in February and then he was there in March.

HB: Yeah, but, eh, it was rather [unintelligible]. Eh, relations with Carter weren’t the very best. Let me put it that way.

KWS: Ezeh diplomat. [What a diplomat.]

HB: In March.

KWS: They were not the best?

HB: Yeah. In March? They were sour. Both men were sour.

KWS: How so?

HB: How so? [Unintelligible.] How so? Eh, first of all, there had been no progress and each one had the tendency to blame the other for not having made any progress at all. Emm, suspicion. I think Carter was suspicious of, of Begin, “Begin does not mean all this,” you know, as it actually is retreating. Apart from the fact that he’s always suspicious of Begin. Leaving this aside, that Begin might, might not want to go on, eh, with all that, his concepts. Eh —

KWS: Even with the autonomy that he had suggested.

HB: And what does this autonomy really mean and, and, eh — a personal autonomy and not geographic autonomy, eh, all this. I always had the impression that — look, on this I might be entirely wrong, this is only an impression — that Carter and the American side, but particularly Carter and Brzezinski, eh, had always thought that, eh, that Begin doesn’t mean a damn, nothing of what he really says. That when he talks about the personal piece autonomy, when he talks about personal autonomy, those ideas which he in his own inimitable way, you know, talked about what Austrial, “Austro-Hungarian empire did and did not do,” etc., etc., that all this was baloney.

KWS: [Laughs.]

HB: This was probably the conclusion. That was my impression that, that, that Carter had concluded and Brzezinski was furious. And, so here you are. It, it, it was a — in general, you had this terrible thought that — Brzezinski had [unintelligible] came up to see Begin. I can’t remember whether this was in March or not, but he came up to see Begin and he came up to see one of us before, called us and [unintelligible] had one of those fantastic ideas or — I can’t remember anymore what — then one day I remember Brzezinski having said, “Why don’t we make Jerusalem into a centerpiece?” and [laughs] — you know, all kinds of strange — We were at the beginning convinced that whenever Brzezinski came out with things like this that this was considered policy. It took us a long time to find out the truth. They are nothing but —

KWS: Trial balloon. Not even trial balloons.

HB: Not — No. It’s his own sudden histrionics. You know, he just got an idea.

KWS: And he threw it out.

HB: — and threw it out. 

KWS: [Laughs.]

HB: And we were convinced that this is not an ide— but we thought this, [unintelligible] — devious, thought-out, well-thought-out plan, that those are policy plans. And then we thought it might, it might not be really a policy plan. As a matter of fact, it might be that the policy plan is exactly the opposite and he’s only throwing this out in order to try and deceive us. And it took us a long time to understand that he was not talking about policy at all. He was talking as if he was in the seminar at Columbia University and he had an idea. 

KWS: [Unintelligible.]

HB: And that he probably forgot about this idea an hour after he, after he talked. Those were, by the way, it’s, that it — In the irritation — I’m not talking about in the outcome, but in the relationship, those things —

KWS: This was an irritant.

HB: It was certainly. Look, I remember he once played chess with, eh, with Begin.

KWS: This was at Camp David.

HB: No, before. He came. Begin — was on a Saturday, I can’t remember which trip it was. I had sixteen trips with Begin but I can’t really, emm — And during chess he said something. I cannot remember anymore what it was but nitpicky, he [unintelligible] something. Then Begin called us in after and, “What in heaven’s name is this? And what does it mean?” etc., etc.. And there was a wall of doom. Zbig never returned to this idea, whatever it was, to this idea ever. 

KWS: [Laughs.]

HB: I’m certain that he’s completely forgotten that he had ever, ever, you know.

KWS and HB: [Laugh.]

HB: He’s got a chess party with Begin so he thought up an idea. 

KWS: [Laughs.]

HB: You know, if somebody would [unintelligible], what would you say [unintelligible] if Brezhnev would disappear tomorrow morning? You know. So, he thinks it’s important. so he talks about somebody getting —

KWS: The Middle East Journal of Chronology describes the March 21st trip, New York Times, “Carter and Begin met in Washington; the White House spokesman described the talks as quote ‘serious and candid.’”

HB: Well, it was an unpleasant affair. It wasn’t one of those, eh, interminable arguments.

KWS: But this happened just a couple of days after the Israelis went into Southern Lebanon.

HB: Yeah.

KWS: And that must have rankled Carter.

HB: I’m sure. The whole thing. Look, I mean — I’m sure. I can’t remember, I’m what? 68 years [unintelligible]. I’m certain we talked about Lebanon and we talked about the other thing, and about the territories, and you have to do something, and the peace process must move on, and, and we said [unintelligible]. Eh, and I’m certain that we — I can’t remember now. I think Begin described to him, described to Carter, the Ismailia debacle, eh. You know, blow by blow, and emm, [unintelligible], Carter had gotten an account from Sadat.

KWS: And from [Hermann] Eilts.

HB: Yeah, he may have. And from [unintelligible].

KWS: Forget Eilts. I understand. 

HB: Forget —

KWS: Right, right, right.

HB: He, he, he got it from Sadat, and here Begin gives him this histrionic description of how he believes that this was terrible and, eh, how he wasn’t quite certain that the whole thing was really on. In any case, emm —

KWS: Yeah.

HB: Look, the breakthrough came with Leeds.

KWS: Let me — in early ’78, according to Sam, my interview with Sam — he said Begin considered himself quote, “a rejected lover.”

HB: I think he always considered himself a rejected lover, not only the beginning of ’78. I think this is part of his makeup. 

KWS: Mm.

HB: He always considered himself that he did the right thing, the best thing, that he went far beyond what he was ever supposed to do, and here, people do not accept this at face value. But in — I think on this he’s probably completely correct. Beginning of ’78 — Look, I had only seen Begin in ’70 when he came to Washington or I by chance came to, eh, to Israel. Therefore, I’m not like Yechiel Kadishai who sees him every day. Or later on, in the 80s I did see him very frequently, so I can’t tell you, but I am certain that he considered — “I went to Ismailia. I made this enormous error, you know, I pulled out of my pocket this one piece of handwritten paper with autonomy proposal on it. I was prepared to tie in Judea and Samaria. I was prepared to tie in with the Egyptian affair, according to what he wanted. And? And what do I get? A rejection.” By the way, I must say, I believe Roy Atherton in his Aswan, his Aswan trip, first of January ’78 — the communique that they crafted there, eh, was a very — it didn’t save the day, but it prevented a certainly complete breakdown.

KWS: You mean the presentation of the Aswan formula?

HB: Yeah.

KWS: Why did it?

HB: It prevented the breakdown. Don’t forget, I mean, here Begin had left — I mean, the Ismailia meeting was — they didn’t come up with anything.

KWS: “Must recognize the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, enable the Palestinians to participate in determination of their own future.” [Pause.] In other words —

HB: We hated it, but this wasn’t the point.

KWS: In other words, it prevented the process from sliding back. 

HB: That might be. Because look, it gave the Egyptians the sense that the United States, I don’t think it gets a sense you might say [unintelligible].

KWS: Right. 

HB: — but that the United States is not a lost cause. In other words, from Sadat’s point of view, it gave them to a certain extent some kind of justification for the risk he took in November. 

KWS: It also helped reintroduce the Americans into the process.

HB: It helped certainly to reintroduce the Americans into the process, and therefore —

KWS: Particularly after our hesitation.

HB: Hesitation, yeah. That was a big hesitation. Whose hesitation was it really? Zbig’s?

KWS: No, they — who said it was real?

HB: No, I’m saying who’s hesitation was this, I mean, [unintelligible]?

KWS: Yeah.

HB: Who really — why did Zbig want to help? Why did this happen?

KWS: Because they had absolutely no idea how close Begin and Sadat were to talking to one another. They were totally baffled. It was totally incongruous with comprehensive peace and with Geneva. They had a mind-set, as Roy Atherton said, “We had a mindset,” he said to me, “a complete mindset and we just didn’t know how to get around it. And what Begin and Sadat did thoroughly floored us. We didn’t know how to react to Mena House, we didn’t know how to react to Ismailia, we didn’t even know how to react to Begin’s coming to Washington.” Roy once said, “We developed a mindset.” And then Roy went on to say, “It was easy for us to develop a mindset. We’d all worked together for 25 years and all of Sadat’s advisors were, were believing what we believed.” That’s why we hesitated. 

HB: I know, I know, I know.

KWS: I mean, to answer your question, I’m giving you from the people who were there. 

HB: Yeah.

KWS: Those are their responses.

HB: I know. I remember, I — I remember I went to see Roy on the day afterwards, the day of the visit, of Sadat’s visit. I said to him, “Look, we have a clean plate.” Complete turnaround. And it’s a clean slate. And I tried to talk, and there were some people in the administration in Washington who understood this. There were many, but there were some —

KWS: You mean a clean slate after the visit?

HB: Yeah, after the visit. There were some who understood it. Not many but there were some. Eh —

KWS: Do you think Roy understood it?

HB: He probably was too suspicious but, eh — Bill Quandt understood.

KWS: And yet it was Quandt who conjures up this notion of an American proposal that is really an Egyptian proposal. I mean, Quandt became somewhat conspiratorial now, in January and February. He and Brzezinski worked out this whole idea of presenting Begin with an idea that would be an American proposal but it was really the Egyptian proposal. I, I — It’s very difficult for me to read Quandt.

HB: I think Quandt is very difficult to read for one reason. I think that he is the one person who is prepared to adjust his whole thinking to immediate reality. “Here’s what it appears today, therefore I’m going to propose —” I think he was the first to accept the reality of the Egyptians, of Sadat’s change. That this has really changed completely the situation. I think he was the first one to do so, already November. But the strange thing was that we adjusted to it so extremely quickly. 

KWS: You adjusted to it too quickly, and the Americans adjusted to it too slowly. And what you had to do is, you had to bring those rates of flow into line.

HB: In any case, [unintelligible].

KWS: Tell me about Leeds. You were about to say Leeds was a breakthrough. Those were your words.

HB: Yeah. It was a [unintelligible] days.

KWS: [Unintelligible.]

HB: Leeds was a turning point. I wouldn’t consider it a breakthrough.

KWS: A turning point. Why? Were you at Leeds?

HB: No, I was in Washington because, eh, [unintelligible] to Leeds. Leeds was — Because in Leeds basically, the contours, not the agreement but the contours emerged. The contours of the agreement emerged. Eh, The contours of, the contours of Camp David emerged. Emm, I do not believe that we would have reached the September agreement in Camp David without Leeds. Obviously, confidently [unintelligible, laughs].

KWS: Well, and Roy and the nine points, that had all been evolving but Leeds sort of crystallized it further.

HB: It crystallized further. It not only crystallized, it also refined them much further. Even if not written down. There was — Don’t forget, there was again, there was a, a, the [unintelligible.] There were their Egyptian reactions. There were our reactions. They were back, they umm, they were — even if I wasn’t there, from all I’ve, I’ve seen and heard from, speaking from what I’ve heard, there wasn’t so much what was written down. For Dayan, it became a much more doable affair.

KWS: Can I use the word “tangible?”

HB: Tangible, yes. You can use the word “tangible,” you can use the word “doable.” It became for him something, “With all my suspicion, with all what I’m going to try to do, I can actually see [unintelligible] could evolve, not will evolve, but could evolve, if I get Begin and if I get this and if I get that. But here I can see what is going to happen.” And, and that I think was extremely important. I’m not one hundred percent certain whether from the Egyptian side the same thing occurred, I would imagine yes.

KWS: Dayan said, “The Leeds Castle conference was of the highest importance, proving a milestone in the peace negotiations.”

HB: Because I think he, for him it became the outline of the agreement became much clearer: What is achievable and what is not achievable.

KWS: Bill Kirby said the Israelis detected for the first time there might even be some Egyptian sincerity and honesty about Israeli concerns about security.

HB: Definitely. I think it is all —

KWS: So, the tones —

HB: Exactly, it was the underlying tones, it was the atmosphere, it was the discoveries that both sides are human beings and etc., etc. In other words, Leeds [unintelligible] the process of some kind of complete —

KWS: Can I — Atherton said to me, “Leeds Castle was a very key part of getting your two parties in the frame of mind to go to Camp David. But it was the first time I remember Egyptian and Israelis beginning to listen to each other. They really began to sort of hear what the other side was saying.” Dayan sat through a whole presentation by el-Baz and when he got all through, Dayan said “I thank you very much. This was a very impressive presentation and I think I even begin to understand your point of view.” el-Baz says in reply, “Thank you Mr. Foreign Minister, it’s the first time I ever heard an Israeli say thank you to me.” And that’s a very nice vignette.

HB: You see, those are the real vignettes. This is why I said I believed that Leeds was a strong turning point, whatever. Not so much of a breakthrough because there was not breakthrough on an agreement or something. But Leeds had an extremely — certainly Dayan, I’m moving again, Dayan came straight from this and I’m [unintelligible]. He came [unintelligible] really convinced, [unintelligible]: It is, the agreement is doable; we can get into a relationship with the Egyptians.

KWS: He still had his doubts before he went to Leeds.

HB: I think he had very much doubts and I believe he was not [unintelligible] complete—

KWS: Is this the agreement, are we talking about a separate agreement?

HB: No, no, no.

KWS: We’re still talking about a pack—

HB: We’re still talking about a package. I think that before Leeds there must have been in his mind still at least one part, maybe a small portion, but there was still the sense that all this is [unintelligible].

KWS: Really?

HB: Really. That [unintelligible] only knows what is behind all this. And the great doubt was whether it was really possible or whether it is only directed toward the United States and not really directed to ourselves. I think all those doubts disappeared after Leeds. In other words, Leeds, yes, it is doable. There is a certain amount of sincerity behind it. They want it. Therefore, it became much more complete.

KWS: This is 10 months after he met [Hassan] Tuhami. This is eight months after the visit to Jerusalem. You had two Begin visits to Washington in between. The follow is Camp David and Blair House. What you have is this series of contacts between the sides where, not every time, but there’s a little bit more that’s eroded from the misperceptions and a little bit more of the confidence that is created.

HB: That’s right. It is a series of vignettes. A long, long series of [unintelligible], and if you are going back in time you will start after [unintelligible], Kilometer 101 [talks] and you are going through the whole gamut. [Unintelligible] series of [unintelligible] on the road which make basically [unintelligible]. ’77, the Sadat visit is one extremely important, strong [unintelligible] which only became possible because Kilometer 101 took place and because —

KWS: Did you understand the perspective of that at the time? Did you understand that in ’77, Hanan?

HB: In ’77, I understood one thing. And I can’t say that I understood the perspective going back to ’73. I certainly understood one thing. The [unintelligible] peace mission and the [unintelligible].


KWS: Why was the ’75 agreement so critical? Because it came after reassessment?

HB: No, not at all. The ’75 agreement was critical, and much more critical in my opinion in those days, I still believe so because it made a military confrontation in Sinai not completely impossible but extremely difficult. In other words, in my mind, ’75 more or less ruled out war between Israel and Egypt. And therefore, if war is ruled out—

KWS: There’s an alternative that you have to work on. Do you want to go upstairs where it’s a little bit more quiet? And then you can smoke your pipe.


KWS: I want to continue with Blair House. You were in Washington. Did you participate in it?

HB: Yeah.

KWS: Describe the atmosphere after Camp David, prior to Blair House, and then the Blair House talks themselves.

HB: What Blair House talks? Are you talking about —

KWS: October 12, ’78. Your discussions about the priority of obligation clause, the linkage issue, how was Carter’s personality different from what you had seen —

HB: You know, it’s more technical — we met at the beginning of Blair House and then we actually met at the hotel in —

KWS: Right. Right, right, right. Madison.

HB: We called Madison “Camp Madison” [unintelligible].

KWS: Have you stopped smoking your pipe?

HB: No, but I forgot it in the car.

KWS: Do you want to go get it?

HB: No.

KWS: It’s rare for you not to have it, that’s why I —

HB: Yeah, I know. Look, frankly those were the nitty gritties, therefore the real ones, therefore the real stuff. 

KWS: Camp David was the generality?

HB: Look, David was of course the whole principle but after Camp David, that was it. Those were the negotiations which had to go on, it was extremely important. Atmosphere, look, those were very much negotiations between us and the Americans. Have you already interviewed Hansel?

KWS: Who?

HB: Hansel. 

KWS: No.

HB: Hansel, the American legal advisor.

KWS: H-a-n —?

HB: H-a-n-s-e-l.

KWS: Really?

HB: He was the State Department legal advisor and very important.

KWS: Okay. But there was Kamal Hasan Ali, Boutros Ghali, Usamah. Were you negotiating with the Americans or with the Egyptians?

HB: We were negotiating with America. I mean, I shouldn’t say it was exclusive between —

KWS: I mean, I still don’t have a picture in my mind, I mean, what’d you do? You sat down in a room, at a table, the three delegations?

HB: No, we sat down all at a table, there were a number of things going on at the same time. There was a bilateral, a real bilateral talk, that was a military negotiation.

KWS: Right. Zacharia Hussein(?) was there. And [Tamir] Abrasha.

HB: And Abrasha. And the Americans were there but —

KWS: It didn’t matter.

HB: It didn’t matter.

KWS: The maps were drawn. This was done by the Israelis and the Egyptians.

HB: The Israelis, they were —

KWS: Right. That’s what I got from the Egyptians. 

HB: They did it completely aside from anybody, I mean nobody interfered in this. They did come, Abrasha came back every day once, to [unintelligible], particularly to [unintelligible], because Dayan didn’t want him to feel he was to such an extent. But he came back to [unintelligible] and he came back to Dayan and spread the maps, and showed him what they agreed, what they didn’t agree, etc. That’s fine. And they did their stuff, with a few leaks, very few leaks around. And there were arguments and there were [unintelligible] and everything but this was completely bilateral. They rest was actually — we and the Americans, and the Americans and the Egyptians. And from time to time, the ministers met from the Egyptian-Israeli and we met a few times with some of the advisors, but basically we negotiated with the Americans and they negotiated with the Americans. 

KWS: Who on the American side was most helpful or most reasonable or most productive?

HB: Look, actually, I don’t know. Roy was actually doing quite well and was helpful. And Hansel was good, within the framework of being a legal mind, etc., etc., you know.

KWS: But what did you try to do? You see, I don’t understand. Camp David had two parts. So, what were you working on? Were you working on the Egyptian-Israeli part or were you working on the Palestinian part?

HB: Yeah, we were working on the Egyptian-Israeli part.

KWS: Only on the Egyptian-Israeli part.

HB: This was a peace treaty.

KWS: In other words, the Blair House talks, no one talked about linkage anymore. 

HB: The linkage was assumed. But don’t forget, we had to talk about an Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty.

KWS: So, you drafted the peace treaty. 

HB: Yeah.

KWS: The articles. 

HB: Yeah.

KWS: You drafted Article Six, 6.2, the one about priority involvement.

HB: Yes, the whole thing. And then, eh, eh, don’t forget there is a treaty and there are the, there is a military part and then there is a civilian part. I mean, all this had to be drafted. This was a drafting, negotiating sessions. 

KWS: Dayan comes to Washington in September of ’77 —

HB: Yeah.

KWS: — with a draft Israeli peace treaty. 

HB: Yes.

KWS: Sadat had provided one to Vance when Vance was in Egypt in August. Okay, now that’s the first time the word “treaty” is used. Fully more than a —

HB: No.

KWS: No?

HB: The first time the word “treaty” was used is in March. Rabin marched with it. He says Carter asked him, “What is the next step, interim or not?” And Rabin says, “No, the next step is peace treaty.” And Carter agreed. [Pause.] Out of this, we, in the summer of ’77, irrespective of the change of government here, ministry, foreign ministry drafted an imagined peace treaty. [Unintelligible] which are blank pages, that’s not the point, but —

KWS: Was the peace treaty based on any formula, any other peace treaty, peace treaty that existed between —

HB: Yeah.

KWS: — United States and X, or —

HB: Yes, yes. 

KWS: I mean what was the basis?

HB: Yes, yes, yes. 

KWS: What was its basis?

HB: We looked at all the peace treaties which were around from their side to [unintelligible] to us. We looked at them and we put into, into our imagined, eh, we put into it what we imagined must be inside. I mean, you’ve got a preamble and the preamble says, eh, we took upon high contracting parties to come to —

KWS: The nature of relations.

HB: The nature of relations and the nature of peace. And then you go through. You imagine what — what are you, what you are putting there. Obviously, we all had peace treaties, other treaties, treaties of friendship, we had pondered through. We looked at them, [unintelligible] all countries that had — what are autonomies of the world? So, we looked at what are peace treaties in the world, what are treaties? We took Oppenheimer and [unintelligible] and went through the books. What are the laws of treaties, and what are treaties, etc., etc., etc.. We went through the whole rigmarole and [unintelligible] through the whole rigamarole even more legally than otherwise possible, etc., etc.. And you came to the table with that type of draft — not only we, the Egyptians too, the Americans, everybody had ideas. Eh, obviously, we had Camp David in front of us. With the elements inside, this already gives you the beginning of the elements. And there were drafting sessions. Very difficult drafting sessions but there were drafting sessions. We drafted, they drafted, we compared drafts, square brackets and non-square brackets and try and took out the square brackets and get the treaty text on it. Those are drafting sessions.

KWS: How much involvement did Begin and Sadat have on any of this, other than receiving cables? This was pretty well left to the foreign ministers and their staffs.

HB: Yeah, but obviously they, they reacted and so on but, but, eh —

KWS: How did Carter get involved?

HB: Ahh, Carter got involved when we couldn’t agree on certain things. [Unintelligible], etc.. Eh, then Carter became very much involved and Carter apparently — now please I don’t know from first hand, I only know it from second hand — but apparently Carter asked every day what was happening. You know, he apparently looked at this stuff. Emm, Carter got involved. Eh, so then came this thing, this famous business with [Aharon] Barak. It was, was —

KWS: Tell me about this, I don’t know anything.

HB: No, when he came to, em, oh what’s his name, [Taha el-] Magdoub, on paragraph six, we went to get the opinion of American legal scholars who Carter had recognized this being of evidence at Yale, like [unintelligible] and Gene Rostow, but it was particularly Magdoub. And then Barak is called into Carter and Carter — and he explains to Carter the provisions. And Carter really didn’t want to accept it but then he accepted Barak’s idea. And there is Usamah [el-Baz] and Usamah is —

KWS: Usamah is Usamah.

HB: Usamah is Usamah and, and, and, and, and there is this, and, eh, they’re throwing fits and all kinds of things, for instance, a vignette: I remember — don’t ever mention this, it was Saturday morning, we were sitting in Camp David [unintelligible] with the American delegation, there was Cy and Dayan. God only knows on which one of the paragraphs it was, I may guess. Eh, Dayan says no and Cy says no. Both of them. For one reason or the other, both of them had been moved. They said, “No, no, we don’t agree.” And we were all sitting around the table and everyone was scribbling some kind of — everyone had ideas how to overcome this impasse. Each one of us suggests to another formulation. Those two — [laughs] — they are, “No, no, no, no.” The mood gets worse and worse. And, we think it was about to break up —

KWS: [Laughs.]

HB: — and Dayan more or less says, “Bababababa” — or Cy says, “Bababababa. We’ll settle differences or we will go home.” Until Barak gets up. And Barak says to both of them, “Tell me, what are we going to tell our grandchildren? That because of those four words that there will be war and no peace?”

KWS: Sounds like what Carter said to Begin. He took the air out of their balloon, didn’t he?

HB: Completely. “Bababababa.” So, I can’t remember whether it was Cy or whether it was Moshe, more important than that, “Well all right, if you’ve got ideas —” 

KWS: Let’s hear it.

HB: “Tell us. Let’s hear it.” So they say it and, eh, then [unintelligible]. Moshe Dayan says to Cy Vance, “All right, let’s support this part.” And Cy said, “Excellent. Let’s send [unintelligible].” Those two were getting up and saying, “All right, we’re going to sleep.” More or less. Eh —

KWS: “You characters work it out.”

HB: “You characters: do whatever.” So, what did we do? I mean, [unintelligible] since we were already standing. Cy says, “All right, 10 o’clock tonight at my office, State Department, you report.” This must have been 11:00 in the morning or 12:00 or something like that, “You people report.” Dayan said, “I’m going to go to sleep and I’m going to take a ride over there in the morning to see the Egyptian, some kind of [unintelligible] — I’m fatigued.” Eh, And Cy says, “I’m going home.” Or something. The two disappeared. And there was a sigh of relief, we are sitting there. We had to be finished by five in the afternoon or something. We finished, I remember we finished and whoever it was. Whether it was we or the Americans, I can’t remember, we went to one of the sides and typed this whole thing up. I mean, we were completely in agreement about the formulation, etc. etc. Barak was happy and all right. At 10 o’clock at night [unintelligible]. We let Dayan go alone. [Unintelligible.] The two principals are there — 

KWS: You guys didn’t go with Dayan?

HB: Nah. He let him go alone, I mean —

KWS: Who? It was you and Meir Rosenne and Barak.

HB: Barak and eh —

KWS: Eli [Rubenstein]?

HB: Eli. And more or less, that’s more or less, I think that was — But he let him go alone. I think he went with Naftali Lavie or something. He wasn’t in this whole business. Because not everybody had to be in this particular negotiating session. So, we come there and these two were sitting there and yet he didn’t tell the [unintelligible]. And they look at this and look at this. It took us ten minutes at least. Go over. Bababababa. All right, you’ve got it. It [laughs] was in one respect a bold success. It wasn’t really easy for them to concede that they made fools of themselves, more or less. [Unintelligible], but —

KWS: Nice way to have your own bureaucrats cover your ass.

HB: In any case, there it is. 

KWS: Did, uh, they —

HB: But this gives you only in — all right, one of them, the hero of this was Barak.

KWS: On this particular session?

HB: In general, the hero.

KWS: Why?

HB: Because he overcame a lot of the difficulties. Eh, the drafting and negotiating relatively, eh, I haven’t [unintelligible] scholarly, just as he knows how do those things. But he treated me very rude. He was never very [unintelligible].

KWS: Were the Egyptians as well-served by their delegation?

HB: I’m not — delegation, right?

KWS: It’s difficult for you to comment on that because of —

HB: I can’t tell you, I really can’t.

KWS: But, but the view I get from talking to the Americans is that the Israelis collectively in an intellectual, experiential sense were playing in the major leagues and the Egyptians were in the minor leagues. That’s one of the quotes that’s given to me.

HB: It could very well be, I don’t know. I can’t tell you.

KWS: I mean there was no Barak that could be matched.

HB: There was, Barak had enormous intellectual [unintelligible] and the knowledge to get quickly out [unintelligible], encyclopedic legal knowledge. He certainly was an intellectual hero of this whole process [unintelligible] in particular [unintelligible].

KWS: Did people defer to him? Did Cy defer to Barak?

HB: Yeah. So did Carter.

KWS: Carter did too. I know at Camp David he did. 

HB: Yeah, Barak is one of the intellectual heroes of this whole — No doubt about it.

KWS: And then in February they met again. And then we have Carter’s shuttle trip.

HB: Yeah. Frankly —

KWS: You think —

HB: — the whole thing —

KWS: Was that necessary?

HB: No.

KWS: Why? [Pause.] I mean, was it playing to the fans? Was it playing to the audience?

HB: No, it was not even playing to the audience. You mean the shuttle?

KWS: Yeah.

HB: But the whole difficulty was [unintelligible]. I mean, don’t forget, the subject matter of oil, right? There’s a little bit of imagination on the American and the Israeli side. Don’t forget the Egyptians here don’t play this enormous role in this whole thing. Cy was not playing with this at all. I think the whole thing was utterly [unintelligible]. We could’ve found a solution to all of this easy.

KWS: Through cables and dispatches and memoranda.

HB: Look, I was in this whole oil business in Washington. There was no bloody reason on our side with [unintelligible] which made things very difficult. On your side too, but there was no real focus on particulars, on any policymaking level with the United States.

KWS: The Americans weren’t focused, but you guys were.

HB: We were, but, but look, I remember. Eh, I can’t remember all the particulars of this and everything.

KWS: But, we’re talking about the oil commitment?

HB: Yes. I remember that I — there was a possibility of taking the whole [unintelligible]. Now there may have been difficulties [unintelligible]. I remember I had researched this and had come up with some ideas, I can’t recall at the moment what exactly, I couldn’t find a — Nobody at one level in Washington prepared to focus on that. Roy said, “It’s not my business.” Hal said, “It’s not my business.” Bill Quandt said, “It’s not my business.” 

KWS: Did Barak say anything?

HB: No. “Oil, That’s not me.” [Unintelligible.] There was nobody. I, so I went to the economic Department of State and to the legal department. There was no — on the oil business there was nobody who took this seriously enough.

KWS: To give you a response or give you feedback, or to react or provide information.

HB: Yes. And we prepared to think it through in American governmental terms. It was obviously — they would have had to go to Department of Energy, they would have to go to the people — to the Interior you know. Somebody would have had to pull this together and nobody did. And to a large extent here you had to reason for this idiotic blowup, which resulted in the shuttle, and take all —

KWS: The shuttle resulted because of what blowup?

HB: Because we couldn’t come to any agreement with oil — on the oil business. And, and [Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, Yitzhak] Modai over here, and, and, and [unintelligible], we gave Begin and Begin said, “No.”

KWS: Hanan, in retrospect, was this typical of this administration that was so doggedly determined to get an agreement that sometimes they forgot that there are details that are involved in an agreement? This is an administration that early on had an outline, a framework, and a plan. They called it the Brookings Paper.

HB: Yeah. 

KWS: And they had a method and they had a plan. And other things just didn’t seem to enter. And when they entered, it was very difficult for their, their system to accept them.

HB: Apparently —

KWS: They could not improvise with things that confronted —

HB: It was an administration, which look, in which it was very difficult to improvise, period. They were not a very flexible administration, at least the part we were concerned. I don’t think also others [unintelligible], etc. But here was just — it was a non-flexible administration. It was not an administration that was, that could say, “all right.” [Unintelligible] it’s a very typical thing. Typical because it was a technical issue which was blown up into a matter of principle. Once the United States had agreed to compensate us for oil, from that moment becomes technical issue: How do we do it?

KWS: How often?

HB: How often? What are the prices? Etc. etc. If it’s necessary, when, how do you trigger this? This becomes a technical issue. They are not prepared to look at the technical issue, make out of the issue, becomes an issue of principle. On what? God only knows. No. I had never any doubt that the Americans are going to stand by their commitment. I personally didn’t. Moda’i? “No, no, we have to be one hundred percent certain.” Convinces Begin. Carter believed this is an insult. You know. And out of nothing —

KWS: Sounds like Dayan and Vance sitting at the table at Madison House.

HB: Yeah, yeah.

KWS: Okay. You did it.