(4 September 1977)

State archive: 4269/6 – א http://www.archives.gov.il/NR/rdonlyres/6D8D153F-279A-40AD-9F69-84167EC9C6E2/0/Egypt10.pdf

Top Secret 


Government Meeting

September 4, 1977

Ministers present: M. Begin, Prime Minister, (PM) Chairman, A. Abu-Hatzeira, Y. Burg, M. Dayan, Y. Horowitz, Z. Hammer, E. Weizman, D. Levy, Y. Modai, G. Patt, A. Shostak

                                A. Sharon.

Absent:                   S. Erlich (overseas).

Participants:          Y. Aridor, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister Office, A. Barak, Legal 

                                Councilor to the Government, E. Evron, Director General of the Foreign 

                                Ministry, C. Kovarsky, Director General of the Interior Ministry, 

                                C. Tavory, Inspector General of Israel’s Police. 

Agenda:                 A. Policy Issues

                               B. Prime Minister visit to Romania

  1. Policy Issues:   

PM: We shall start with international policy problems. Two documents were deposited at the hands of the Secretary of the Government. They are drafts of the Peace Treaty with Egypt with an accompanying letter of the Foreign Minister to the Secretary of State. The letter clarifies that this Peace Treaty should eventually be drafted with Jordan and Syria, and in response to Americans request, also with Lebanon. In the accompanying letter we also explain the territorial issues. 

The committee that the Government appointed to draft these documents included, in addition to me, Foreign Minister [Dayan], the Defense Minister, [Weizman] and the Agriculture Minister [Sharon]. The Committee approved these documents on Friday and we presented them to the U.S. Ambassador. This was done in accordance with the request of the American Secretary of State in a private conversation with me that was held at the home of the Foreign Minister. The Secretary of State requested the Arabs to prepare a draft as well but they did not commit themselves to do so. We complied willingly with this request and I have to mention here the exceptional work that was done by the Legal Councilor of the Foreign Ministry, Mr. Rosenne and the significant assistance of the Legal Councilor to the Government. 

When you will read the document you’ll find it to be very impressive, both from legal and political perspectives. This is the first time, since the establishment of the State that the government proposes peace treaty – including all the chapters and clauses that are based on precedents. These precedents include the peace treaty between the Soviet Union and Poland; peace treaties after WWI and WWII and the peace treaty between the U.S. and Japan. 

An excellent job was done by our legal councilors and I wish to thank them for this accomplishment. 

I would like to read the most important points from the accompanying letter for the benefit of the orientation of the Ministers. But I request that all the members of the Government will receive both documents from the government’s Secretary so that they can read them personally. I also request that they will be translated to Hebrew. We wrote it in English – understandably because it was not possible otherwise – but a Hebrew translation is necessary and will be made available for the Ministers. 

In the coming weekend, upon the departure of the Foreign Minister to the U.S. we shall leave these two documents for the review of the members of the Knesset’s Committee on Foreign Affairs and Security, and we hope that they will not be leaked. 

Minister Dayan: I’ll have to meet with them, no way to avoid it. The members of the Committee claim that we have to listen to their opinions. 

PM: The accompanying letter is based on the principles that I brought to the attention of the American President in our private meeting on July 19. Members of the government should remember the main points with regards to the Sinai, the Golan Heights, Judea, Samaria and Gaza. I will read to you the main points [in English]: 

Israel and Egypt

  1. Any settlement would take fully into account the need to ensure Israel’s security.
  2. The right of Israel to unimpeded freedom of navigation and overflight through and over the Straits of Tiran and the Gulf of Aquaba should be ensured. For this purpose Israel will retain territorial control over Sharem-El-Sheikh and the Tiran Straits including territorial continuity to Eilat”

I want to say that there is an element of continuation here. The National Likud Government on November-December 1968 have arrived at this decision and asked of the then foreign Minister to submit it to the American – namely territorial continuation form Share-El-Sheik to Eilat. 

  1. In order to maintain the security of its southern areas, the outer limits of Israel’s territorial control from the Mediterranean Sea to the Gulf of Aquaba should run west of the previous international boundary, in such a manner as to incorporate an area on the Mediterranean Coast south of the Gaza Strip. 
  2. West of the Area under Israeli control, there shall be a part of the security arrangement, continuous buffer zones, demilitarizes zones, and areas of limited armament and forces. 
  3. Subject to these principles, and bearing in mind the means of implementation outlined above, Israel would be prepared in the context of a Peace Treaty, for a substantial withdrawal of its forces from the existing line in the Sinai Peninsula. 

            Israel and Syria

In the context of a Peace Treaty Israel is prepared to negotiate a new boundary to replace the present cease-fire line between the States. 

The delimitation of the respective territories, and the security arrangements, should be such as to ensure Israel’s water sources, and the security of its northern areas. 

(Begin: You see the difference of the versions with regards to the Sinai and the Golan Heights)

Israel and Jordan

  1. In Judea and Samaria equal rights and full co-existence should be ensured between Jew and Arab.
  2. No part of this area should be subjected to any foreign rule or sovereignty. 
  3. Any settlement should take Israel’s security needs fully into account. In this context our position is that Israel’s security on the eastern border should be based on the Jordan River. 

            (Begin: All in accordance with the Government decision and may review these two 

            Documents that are kept by the Government’s Secretary.)

I need to present you with a report on my visit to Romania. I will relate to matters that were not made public and are forbidden to be made public. But first we should determine what will be the composition of the committee that will participate in the upcoming UN General Assembly. 

Minister Dayan: I received a note from the Secretary of the Government that next Sunday the Government will not convene. This means that I’ll depart for the U.S. before a Government meeting. If someone wishes to say something ahead of my trip, better do it now. 

PM: We shall have a meeting this Thursday. 

Minister Dayan: I have no reason to propose such meeting.

PM:  Can you attend a meeting next Sunday?

Minister Dayan: Yes.

PM: So we shall have a regular meeting. We shall start at 9 AM instead of 10. 

  1. The visit of the PM in Romania

PM: I will report now on matters that cannot be made public from my visit to Romania.

President Ceausescu told me that Sadat is willing to have a meeting between representatives of Israel and Egypt. I asked him if it means a meeting between me and Sadat and he responded that at this stage the meeting should take place only between the representatives of both countries. It is obvious that this should be made public and see how it develops based on the message of Ceausescu that he heard directly from Sadat. 

Ceausescu spoke with Brezhnev about the renewal of the diplomatic relation between Israel and the Soviet Union. Brezhnev answer was: ‘It is not excluded’. The Foreign Minister of Romania, Macovescu told me that he spoke with Gromyko about the same issue and the answer was: ‘We are waiting’ and nothing else. 

As for Aliya – I raised the problem from the perspective of families’ reunions. The estimate is that there are currently 45,000 Jews in Romania. 25,000 did register, meaning that in the clause of nationality they wrote ‘Jewish’. In Romania, like in the other East European countries they make a distinction between nationality and citizenship. The Chief Rabbi Rosen and other activists say that about 20,000 additional Jews wrote ‘Romanian’ in the nationality clause without being fully aware of what they did but based it on the fact they are Romanian citizens. The estimate is therefore is that there are close to 50,000 Jews in Romania. Do the Jews of Romania wish to make Aliya? There is only a partial answer – some do and others chose to remain by their own choice. 

I raised that issue before the [Romanian] Prime Minister during our first conversation and actually I encountered a ‘brick wall’. He argued that they solved the Jewish problem. They know that there are more than 400,000 ex-Romanian Jews in Israel, and there is nothing more that can be done. But if there is a specific personal problem within a family they are always willing to approach it positively. But the problem, actually, does not exist any longer.

In a polite manner I told the Prime Minister that I request to raise this issue with the President. The prime Minister responded that I can raise any subject that I choose before the President. And indeed, I took advantage of that opportunity during my personal conversation with Ceausescu. This opportunity was given to me last Friday when the President suddenly interrupted a conversation that lasted for about two hours and requested to take a walk with me in the garden, accompanied only by a translator. 

The main concern of the President was that we have to recognize the PLO and negotiate with Arafat; Arafat is a good person – Ceausescu has spoken with him, and there are worse than him in the PLO; Arafat is ready to recognize Israel, and so forth. There is no point to further report on this part of the conversation. He made his point and I did mine – and the Government knows exactly what could have been said by me. 

Towards the end of our conversation, I raised the subject of Aliya. At the start his response was similar to that of the Prime Minister’s namely, that the problem does not exist any longer. 

He said: ‘You are presenting me with a very difficult question. All Jews are well educated. We invested in them a lot of money so that they acquire education and they are needed for our economy. There is no problem anymore’. I pressured him and the conclusion was positive: Appeals should be submitted and all the application will be treated with a constructive attitude. Evron later spoke with the Romanian Deputy Foreign Minister at the latter’s initiative and it was approved by the President and me. If the President agreed, then there should be no objection. 

Towards the end of the visit the Prime Minister asked me I wish to further discuss the issue of Aliya. I replied: ‘It is not necessary I have reached an agreement with the President’. And he responded: ‘I have told you what the President told you’. Well, this was entirely incorrect. But though he claimed so, I chose to say nothing in response.   

There is hope that the Aliya from Romania will increase. I cannot guarantee it now but there is an agreement and the tendency will be to approve the applications. I asked Rabbi Rosen to encourage the Jews to submit requests, even by those who have been rejected in the past. By the end of the year we will know exactly how many applications were submitted. 

I made it clear to the Prime Minister that though we are not obligated to reciprocate we can assist them in the American Senate to get an approval for Romania’s request to be recognized as a preferred country. 

The term ‘privileged country’ is very dramatic. But it is easy from economic perspective and almost all countries sign, with one another such an agreement. In any case, the Romanians are interested in the Senate’s ratification and I told the Prime Minister that Senator Jackson is expected to be in Israel in November and I’m willing to talk to him, only if there will be some progress on Aliya. Apparently they are interested in it. The fact is that the Prime Minister talked to the American ambassador at a recent reception in our Ambassador’s home and said; in my presence so that I could hear that it will be possible to have a conversation with Jackson and Ribicoff. So something good came out of it and it has been registered in the Romanians’ memory that we shall try to assist them in the Senate – and we shall do so – but until November we would know whether there is a progress in Aliya, or not;  this why I requested that the Jews will start to submit their applications immediately. 

As for economic talks they want to cooperate with us in the economic area. They want to build joint industries with us. And until the planned visit of our Minister of Industry, commerce and Tourism in Romania in November we should have a plan regarding reciprocal exports. 

I shall present you now with a very characteristic quote from Ceausescu’s conversation. He said many things that are important from his perspective but are not new. He commented on the settlements and I responded as I should have; he demanded of us to withdraw to the 1967 borders and I responded to it. I shall not repeat it in order not to waste our time. 

I will not go into details because the talks lasted altogether 13 hours. But Ceausescu also said the following: ‘If the Israeli policy of refusal to return to the 1967 lines; of not recognizing a Palestinian state; of not negotiating with the PLO, he is very apprehensive (and his anxiety was apparent) that anti-Jewish sentiments will be awakened in many parts of the world. 

I took note of it and when my turn to respond arrived I said the following: ‘I wish you to know that the Jewish People is united today, more than ever before on Israel’. I especially noted the unity of the American Jewry, because for a Romanian ruler the American Jewry position is decisive. But this applies also, I added to the Jews in Britain and France. They are all united around us. I continued and said: ‘You know very well what happened in 1944. Your Transylvania was within Hungary and we requested the British to bomb the railroads that led to Auschwitz and thousands of airplanes bombed all kind of strategic targets, but refused to bomb those railroads. Nobody helped us. This is why the Jewish People are ready to face all dangers. I wanted you to know that. But if your scenario will be realized because of our policy that means peace with security, then it is a disgrace to that particular country and we shall stand tall for our rights’. The President listen and did not utter a word. 

I presented this report to you because it is very typical. At the time, during the talks between Mars and September, 1975 Kissinger threatened that anti-Semitism will rise. See how things evolve. The same and identical threat is expressed now by a Communist Romanian ruler. 

I presented a very condensed report and let us move to the next subject on the agenda unless any of you has questions about the visit to Romania. If not, let us discuss the situation in “El Al”.