4 October 1977
The Jerusalem Post, October 13, 1977.
When the Joint U.S.-Soviet Working Paper on the Middle East was issued, tension between the Carter administration and the new Begin government was already high. In the United States at the time, Israel’s Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan set about to deprecate if not destroy the meaning of the working paper. Dayan was livid because he sensed that the Carter administration was tilting heavily toward Arab definitions of how a conference should work and what the outcome should be. Most sensitive to the Israelis was the notion that a conference would convene and Israel would be ganged upon by a united Arab delegation in which all substantive issues would be discussed in a plenum, and where there was no guarantee that the PLO would not attend. Israel had always insisted that any conference in which it participated would have to proceed in geographic working groups. On the evening of October 3-4, Dayan met with Carter in what many described as the most rancorous meeting held between the two. When it was over, Carter relented and the U.S.-Israeli working paper was issued which squashed the US-USSR joint statement by superseding it with a document of procedures on how a conference would be convened. Sadat observed the US President giving in to Israeli demands on the matter of conference procedures; Sadat was increasingly frustrated that so much time and effort was devoted to getting to a conference, rather than focusing on his objective: the return of Sinai to Egyptian sovereignty. One of the key reasons for his Jerusalem trip the next month was a growing impatience about procedural wrangling which the U.S-Israeli working paper confirmed.
Ken Stein, March 2004
- The conference will open with a united Arab delegation, including Palestinian Arabs.
- After the opening session, there will be bilateral working groups designed to negotiate peace treaties. The working groups will be: Israel-Egypt, Israel-Jordan, Israel-Syria and Israel-Lebanon–if Lebanon wants to participate.
- A working group will “discuss” the future of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. In this group will be Israel, Egypt, Jordan and Palestinian Arabs.
- The problem of the refugees will be discussed as the parties determine.
- The conference will be based on U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.
- All changes in the format of the conference will have to be agreed to by all the parties.
* Originally written by Ken Stein and eventually published in the two editions of Itamar Rabinovich and Jehuda Reinharz, Israel in the Middle East: Documents and Readings on Society, Politics and Foreign Relations, Pre-1948-present, Brandeis University Press, 2007.