Saudi Foreign Minister Tells President Carter They Are Prepared To Recognize Israel

April 9, 1980

After Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s diplomatic opening with Israel, almost all Arab states publicly criticized his engagement with Jerusalem. Relations between Saudi Arabia and Egypt soured; the US tried to mend Saudi and Egyptian diplomatic fences. . At a White House meeting, Sadat, President Jimmy Carter, Saudi Foreign Minister Bandar bin-Sultan and US National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski listened to Carter’s request to have the Saudis support Sadat’s initiative and not remain like the Jordanians and Palestinians with profound opposition to the Egyptian-Israeli Treaty.

Carter said that failure to support Sadat “increases Israeli doubts that Saudi Arabia would eventually accept Israel. “ Bandar replied that “the time will come to support the American position.  We will do whatever it takes to support it. We would be prepared to recognize Israel’s right to exist within approximately the borders of 1967.” Sadat told the assembled “What we have reached is not the end of the road.  We have to start somewhere.  Camp David is not an end but only a beginning.  You are right in saying that I have done some things against my own convictions, but after 1977, when Geneva looked like a failure, I got a letter from President Carter.  I was disappointed that the Palestinians welched out on their promise on [United Nations Security Resolution] 242. [Begin] he evacuated the settlements, then abandoned the airports there.  It was President Carter and I who brought him to do this.  We have thus created precedents for the West Bank and the Golan Heights.  Sitting in our capitals and waiting for Begin to act is going to get us nowhere.”

Sadat, in this extraordinary memorandum of a conversation released through the Freedom of Information act, went on to question if the Saudis are willing to accept Israel, why does King Fahd encourage Iraqi and Palestinian “dreams.”

Read Anwar Sadat’s remarks at the White House following the meeting HERE.

The photo shows Carter and Sadat on April 8, 1980.