Israel Discloses Contents of the U.s.-israel ‘working Paper’ Labor Alignment Attack on Paper Fails
Menu JTA Search

Israel Discloses Contents of the U.s.-israel ‘working Paper’ Labor Alignment Attack on Paper Fails

Download PDF for this date

Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan disclosed in the Knesset today the hitherto undivulged contents of the U.S.-Israel “working paper” outlining procedures for the Geneva conference. He also defended the document, unanimously approved by the Cabinet Tuesday night, against a sharp attack by Labor Alignment leader Shimon Peres in a debate that followed. The Knesset eventually approved Dayan’s suggestion that the subject be removed from the agenda.

A senior source revealed, meanwhile, that the approved working paper was a revised version of an earlier draft proposed by the U.S. on Sept. 29 and immediately rejected by Israel. The source indicated how the final working paper differs from the original on key points. (Text of working paper, P.3.)


It calls for a joint Arab delegation at the opening of the Geneva talks. In the original draft, the separate working groups were to report to the conference plenary. In the final version, the joint delegation will cease to exist after the opening session.

Following the opening, the conference will be divided into four working groups on the basis of geography. The function of the working groups will be to negotiate and sign peace treaties. They will consist of Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon. A fifth working group will consist of all the parties concerned, including a delegation of Palestinian Arabs, to discuss the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the refugee problems.

According to the senior source, the original American proposal spoke of a discussion of the “Palestinian problem” and left the door open for additional participants. The revised version eliminates the option to discuss the “Palestinian problem” and leaves no room for the participation of “unknown PLO members.”

It states that the Palestinian Arabs will be represented but leaves open who these Palestinian Arabs will be. The refugee problem is also a vague definition, deliberately so because Israel wants as little practical discussion of that subject as possible.

The working paper states that Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 remain the basis for the Geneva conference. Israel considers that to be the most important point since it holds the U.S. to its old commitment to seek bilateral negotiations, limits the role of the conference co-chairmen–the U.S. and USSR–and ensures that no additional participants will be allowed to join the conference.


Peres charged that the working paper imposed limitations on Israel in that it made the Geneva conference a platform for PLO supporters. He said that the government demonstrated over-eagerness to go to Geneva and would not be able to present the conference with any practical suggestions. Therefore, the Arab threat might be renewed or an agreement will be imposed on Israel “that will not be pleasing even to the moderates among us.”

Dayan replied that there was full agreement with the U.S. that the PLO will not be represented at Geneva. Furthermore, he said, if any delegate identifies himself as a representative of the PLO he would be barred from participation in the conference. Dayan assured the Knesset that there was no room for concern that the government would make any “unreasonable” concessions. He said the principles that are most important for Israel are implied in the working paper. These are, he said, no return to the 1967 borders; no agreement to a Palestinian state on the West Bank or Gaza Strip and no talks with the PLO.


Last night, the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Security Committee reluctantly approved the working paper after a briefing by Dayan during which the document was subjected to “heated condemnation” by Likud as well as opposition MKs. Dayan, who appeared before the committee in closed session to explain the working paper, may have fanned its anger by his account of his Oct. 5 meeting with President Carter in New York that preceded the drafting of the working paper.

The Foreign Minister described his talk with the President as “very difficult” and in some respects even “brutal.” He said Carter had accused Israel of not doing enough to achieve peace and threatened that if the working paper was rejected “you will be totally isolated from the whole world,” according to a report today in Maariv.

Dayan told the committee “I wasn’t too delicate in my responses, either.” He reportedly said that “I jumped out of my skin” when the President demanded that Israel make more concessions for the sake of peace. According to the account, Dayan recited the long history of Israel’s efforts to find peace with its neighbors and said that Israel would continue to reject dealings with the PLO or the creation of a Palestinian state even at the risk of total isolation. But Carter was not convinced and stood by his charges, Dayan is reported to have told the Knesset body.

Committee members reportedly charged that the working paper was “dictated by the Americans for their own interests” and warned that its approval would only provoke U.S. demands for still further concessions from Israel over Palestinian representation at Geneva.

Dayan was reported to have argued that the government had no choice but to accept the working paper without reservations in order to avoid a confrontation with the U.S. According to Dayan, the U.S. understands Israel’s opposition to negotiating with the PLO but will not understand an unwillingness to talk to the Palestinians living in the administered territories.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund