Egyptian-Israeli Negotiations’ Documents Reader: 1973-1979 | CIE


Egyptian-Israeli Negotiations’ Documents Reader: 1973-1979


This documentary source collection is unique because it first and foremost includes materials not provided by the Foreign Relations documents of the United States, particularly items translated to English from Israeli/Hebrew sources. American-centric written materials on the Camp David negotiations crush Israel with unforgiving intransigence. The materials here—when compared to American memoirs—give a broader picture of what unfolded before, during, and after the Camp David negotiations in September 1978. Of particular value in this collection are the regular Israeli delegation meetings where tactics were revised to meet American pressures, but Israel’s strategic outlooks on no Palestinian state, no self-determination, no foreign sovereignty over the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and no permanent halt to settlements remained constant. There are no known full American made transcripts of any meetings held during the Camp David accords. From the American participants, there are partial diaries of selected meetings, sometimes self-serving memoirs, and personal notes that have been used to shape the writing and interpretations of the Camp David negotiations. Accordingly, a pro-Carter administration outlook about the accords has evolved, with the exception of memoirs published by Israelis who were Camp David participants, and one excellent book, Year of the Dove, 1979

The historiography section of this source collection positions the documents into a context that refutes what has become the accepted common belief: that Menachem Begin’s government suffered from incurable and perverse stubbornness. What we do not learn from the materials collection here was the PLO leadership’s persistent refusal, despite more than one thousand hours of secret American efforts, to persuade the Palestinians to participate in the negotiations before and after the September 1978 talks.

This source reader has six sections: an introduction with a historiographic essay of the diplomatic events that surrounded the Camp David negotiations held between Egypt, Israel and the United States; an executive summary specifically focused on the Carter administration, its motivations, successes and failures; and a list of participants who negotiated the diplomacy before, during and after the Camp David talks. This section of preliminary materials comprises the first 27 pages. As for the documents sections themselves, there are three parts to it: the first begins with diplomatic records that emerged from the June 1967 war through the September 1978 negotiations (111 documents), the next section focuses on the Camp David summit negotiations themselves, September 5-September 17, 1978 (37 documents), and the third traces the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty negotiations through March 1979 until the end of the Carter administration (49 documents). This documents collection does not include all of the meetings held by the Carter administration about the Middle East and the Arab-Israeli conflict during its four years in office. Those documents may be found in The Foreign Relations Documents of the United States, January 1977 – August 1978, volume 8 and The Foreign Relations Documents of the United States, August 1978 – December 1980, Volume 9. Reading the preliminary remarks of the historians who pieced these documents together is revealing about their inability to acquire from President Carter or the Carter Presidential Library his full diary or the US documents for the Camp David negotiations. It remains inexplicable why one of the most critical American choreographed negotiations held on any issue in the second half of the 20th century has no official records. Hence, there is extraordinary merit to this documents collection because it contains full transcripts of many Israeli-American meetings and Israeli delegation deliberations, which are not available elsewhere in English.

Together there are 199 documents in the book. Additionally, there are two explanatory CIE videos:

Carters Search for Peace in the Middle East (4:06) and

13 Days at Camp David, 1978, (6:38)


  • “This document reader covering the six-year transition from total war to durable peace is an amazing and priceless resource for scholars, journalists, diplomats and others who want to understand how these events actually unfolded. Containing the full texts of 199 essential documents from the US and Israeli archives, users will find many meeting transcripts, internal memos, drafts of texts and similar items previously unavailable to the earlier chroniclers of Egyptian-Israeli negotiations. Instead of having to rely on the fallible and self-serving recollections in participant memoirs, testimonies and oral histories, we now have a detailed collection of records to examine and compare the different narratives. Where one source has significant gaps, such as the American minutes from the crucial Camp David summit, the other (in this case, the Israeli archives) fills in the missing information, leading to new understandings of how Begin and Sadat, under Carter’s prodding (and, at times, in order to detour around the president’s unrealistic plans) succeeded. As a bonus, the short opening essay provides an excellent introduction into the many dimensions and complexities, including Carter’s mix of determination and hubris, as well as his disdain for Israel, while he conducted repeated and dead-end secret discussions with the PLO, which were. as noted, against American law at the time.”

    Professor Gerald Steinberg, Bar-Ilan University May 2019 (verified owner)