Intense Discussions at Camp David Between the Three Principals and on the Ministerial Level
Menu JTA Search

Intense Discussions at Camp David Between the Three Principals and on the Ministerial Level

Download PDF for this date

President Carter and Premier Menachem Begin of Israel met separately for two hours at Camp David this morning and then joined President Anwar Sadat of Egypt for the second meeting of the three principals, which began at 10:30 a.m. and ended at 1:35 p.m. Presidential Press Secretary Jody Powell told reporters at a press briefing here this afternoon. The first Carter-Begin-Sadat meeting began at 3 p.m. yesterday and lasted one hour and 40 minutes.

Powell confirmed to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency earlier reports that Sadat and Israeli Defense Minister Ezer Weizman met for a half hour yesterday afternoon at Sadat’s quarters in Dogwood Lodge. According to the reports, the invitation came from Sadat. Powell also confirmed that Defense Secretary Harold Brown was due at Camp David late this afternoon but said “there is no specific occurrence within the discussions that leads to his coming up.”

The Sadat-Weizman meeting was said to have been arranged by Sadat’s chief military aide and a military aide accompanying Weizman and that both aides were present at the meeting. Sadat and Weizman developed a friendly relationship following Sadat’s visit to Jerusalem last November which caused some difficulties between Weizman and Begin. Some observers here suggested that Sadat was deliberately provoking Begin by inviting Weizman to his lodge for a private tete-a-tete.


Although there was still no information of substance forthcoming as the Camp David summit ended its second full day, it was apparent from Powell’s briefing that there is intensive and almost uninterrupted discussion among the three principals and on the ministerial level as well.

Contrary to expectations, the conference will not be suspended over the weekend. Powell told the newsmen that “there will be breaks for individuals and delegations for religious purposes but no overall break for three days.” He confirmed that the Israelis, Egyptians and Americans would each conduct their own religious services at Camp David during the weekend but that none would leave the Presidential retreat. Earlier there were reports that some of the Israeli delegates had planned to attend Sabbath services in Hagerstown, Md., about 14 miles from Camp David.

Powell told the reporters that the Carter-Begin meeting at Carter’s quarters in Aspen Lodge began at 8:30 a.m. and was attended by Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan, Weizman, Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and the President’s National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski. He said Carter and Begin left after two hours but the others continued their discussion for another hour.

Asked why Carter met with the Israelis this morning and not with the Egyptians, Powell said “I don’t know how to respond without entering into substance.” He added, however, that “at this point it was appropriate for Carter to do so” and “in a day or two he might meet with the Egyptians.” Powell warned the media against “segmenting this in cycles” because “it will lead you astray.”


He denied categorically recent reports that the U.S. would propose the stationing of troops on the West Bank and Gaza Strip to ensure Israel’s security. “That is one of the great non-existent stories of all time,” the Press Secretary declared. When a reporter noted that President Carter had not ruled it out in remarks last week, Powell said “reports that the Administration is considering a base on the West Bank are hogwash.”

Sources here familiar with the Middle East political process said that Egypt would favor some kind of American involvement in the Mideast and would welcome an American security pact with Israel that included the stationing of American military forces on the West Bank and Gaza Strip. There were no indications, however, that the Egyptians would favor an American base in Sinai where American civilian observers are presently monitoring the implementation of the Israeli-Egyptian interim agreements.

The Egyptians were said to expect some kind of U.S. involvement to emerge from Camp David and that Sadat would not have gone there unless he had advance assurances that the Americans would try to get Israel to back off from its insistence that it will never return to the 1967 borders.

It was also said that if Carter proposed American military involvement in the interests of Israel’s security, Begin would have to go along since he has no alternatives. It was pointed out, however, that the stationing of American troops on the West Bank would pre-judge the sovereignty issue there in favor of the Arabs since Israel presently exercises military control of the territory.


A report circulated by some Israeli reporters is that a compromise plan for the West Bank and Gaza Strip was developed by Vance and the top American Mideast specialists at a strategy session at a farm in Middleburg, Va. two weeks ago, to be given to Carter for presentation to Begin and Sadat.

The alleged plan adheres closely to ideas proposed by Sadat before the Camp David conference was arranged. It calls for the restoration of the West Bank and Gaza to Arab sovereignty with Jordanian participation for a five-year period after which the question of permanent sovereignty would be decided. It would also allow Jewish settlements on the West Bank to remain in place. But so for there has been no indication that Carter has proposed this or any other plan at Camp David.

The expected arrival of Brown raised questions as to whether he would discuss bilateral issues such as arms supplies to Israel with his Israeli counterpart, Weizman. Powell said “I rather doubt this.” Asked if Brown was coming to discuss specifics of American-Israeli security arrangements, Powell said “the answer is no.” He also reiterated his refusal to characterize the mood at Camp David. “I don’t think it is necessary for temperature taking,” he said.

Meanwhile, Begin’s wife, who yesterday had attended the wedding of a close friend in Toronto, was taken on a 30-minute drive after arriving today at Camp David, by Mrs. Rosalynn Carter. Afterwards they lunched together. Mrs. Begin was accompanied by Ariela Mezer, the Parliamentary Secretary of the Likud faction. Mazer told the JTA that Mrs. Begin said she found her husband in “a very good mood” today.

In a related Camp David development, Japan Air Lines has warned its employes to be especially alert to the possibility of hijacking or other dramatic attempts at disruption by Arab terrorists to demonstrate their antagonism towards the summit conference, the JTA was informed by a Japanese diplomatic correspondent here today.

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