31 Joint statement by delegations to the autonomy talks- statements by Chief Delegates and excerpts from press conference- 26 June 1979

31 Joint statement by delegations to the autonomy talks- statements by Chief Delegates and excerpts from press conference- 26 June 1979


 VOLUME 6: 1979-1980

31. Joint statement by the Israel, Egypt and U.S. delegations to the autonomy talks, statements by the Chief Delegates and excerpts from a press conference with them, 26 June 1979.

Little progress was made in the two days of talks in Herzliya, and the delegations spent much time defining the meaning of the pertinent Camp David formulas regarding the proposed autonomy, their differing interpretations and the role of the United States in the proceedings. It was decided to hold the next (fourth) round in Alexandria in early July. Texts:


In implementation of the agreed schedule as stipulated in the joint letter addressed by President Anwar Sadat and Prime Minister Begin to President Carter, dated March 26, 1979, the delegations of Egypt, Israel and the United States met in Herzliya, Israel, on 25 and 26 June 1979 to continue their talks and negotiations as set out in the "framework for peace in the Middle East agreed at Camp David" and in the above-mentioned letter.

They discussed the outcome of the work of the technical committee that met in Herzliya last week to consider proposals for a draft agenda.

The delegations reiterated their determination to adhere fully to the agreed bases and principles of the Camp David framework, and the joint letter.

The delegation of Egypt, led by Prime Minister, Dr. Mustafa Khalil, introduced the position of the Egyptian Government concerning the bases and objectives of the process and the future work based on the Camp David framework and the joint letter.

The delegation of Israel, led by Minister Dr. Josef Burg, put forward its suggestions for dealing with the practical ways and means to advance the negotiations.

The delegation of the United States. led by Ambassador James Leonard, stressed that the U.S. attaches the highest importance to these negotiations and has made clear its intentions to do all it can to assure their success.

A thorough and detailed discussion took place. It was agreed that the three delegations will continue their talks in Alexandria on July 5th and 6th, 1979.


Dear Friends,

First of all I have to apologize for being a little bit late. The reason is that Prime Minister Dr. Khalil received a telephone call from Prime Minister Begin, who is at this moment in Ma'alot, and there were a little bit of troubles to get the proper telephone connection - just in time, but it worked out. What secrets we have talked about the Prime Minister can say afterwards.

Second, I would like here, in public, to express gratitude and satisfaction to the Egyptian delegation and to the American delegation. We had talks - not always easy but always sincere - and I believe that yesterday, especially the deliberations, talks and negotiations in the afternoon, were helpful, constructive and will be fruitful. I thank you, Mr. Prime Minister, personally, and the members of your delegation. I thank you, Ambassador at Large Mr. Leonard, and the members of your delegation, and I hope that in this worthy company also my friends and members of the Israeli delegation, members and delegates and counsellors also did a good job.

I would like to say that not only did we decide that on the 5th and 6th of July we will meet in Alexandria, but we also -more than tentatively - we decided to have at this lovely place on the 5th and 6th of August a meeting, and then again the 20th and 21st of August in Alexandria. I have to explain the little gap between the meeting next week in Alexandria and next month in Herzliya. This gap has three reasons, and they are in the open: there is no secret diplomacy needed.

One reason is the Conference for African Unity that will take (place) in Monrovia, and our Egyptian friends want to be present there. One reason is, everyone of us understands, Ramadan, and the third reason is the nine days of mourning between Rosh Hodesh Av and the Ninth of Av, where we feel what we are prevented from participating in a conference of this kind. So, Monrovia plus Ramadan plus the Nine Days of Mourning are the reason why we from the 6th of July to the 5th of August will have no meeting but we intend that subcommittees or technical committees should work in this time and clarify the different matters.


Thank you very much, Dr. Burg, Excellency, Ambassador Leonard:

I would like really to express my deepest thanks and gratitude not only to Dr. Burg and to the distinguished delegation, but I would like also to express my deepest thanks to the Israeli Government for their hospitality, and also to the management of this lovely hotel.

We have been engaged in very serious talks during our three sessions. We represented our points of view and we had a very fruitful discussion, and as Dr. Burg mentioned, specially last evening. And then (today) we agreed on this statement which has been read to you. We have also agreed that certain suggestions that we had put forward had to be studied so that they can be taken in Alexandria and afterwards, so that we'll be able to work an agenda to proceed with the negotiations and, as it came in the text, to enhance it. And so we are looking forward, really, for our future meetings - that statements that will be read will contain more substance and material than the present one.

Thank you very much.


I would like to join the Prime Minister in thanking Dr. Burg, and through him the Government of Israel and the people of Israel for the hospitality which we have been shown, and in particular for the very warm hospitality which was demonstrated to us over the past two days.

I would also like to record here in public, as we have in private, in our meetings, the very real satisfaction which the American delegation feels with the way in which this discussion has gone here. Both with the spirit in which it's been conducted and with the substance which has been dealt with during these discussions. We look forward to achievements in these negotiations in the near future, which I think will be more visible than these perhaps intangible achievements which we feel have been registered here in the past 24 hours.

We would be very pleased, of course, when these do come out. But we are not in any way dissatisfied with the rate of progress which has been recorded already in the three sessions which these talks have now had.


Q: (To Ambassador James Leonard). With regard to your comments about particular progress being made yesterday afternoon, could you characterize for us in any way in what manner the discussions yesterday afternoon differ in subject or in results from the previous discussion in the morning or today's discussion this morning, and can you be truly satisfied, as you said you were, with the fact that no agenda has finally been arrived at?

A: Well, the answer to the second question is, yes, I am satisfied, even though no agenda has been arrived at, as I don't think it was necessary to do that at this stage. If we go on a great deal longer without ordering our work, then of course our delegation would not be so satisfied. But there is no problem with this at this point in the work of the negotiations. With regard to the discussions which took place not only yesterday afternoon but throughout these meetings, I think our delegation was particularly satisfied, particularly gratified really, with the tone and the serious manner in which the delegations explained to each other their concerns about a number of the problems which we know we have in front of us...

Dr. Burg answering a question: Concerning what you called an invitation to the Palestinians, I would like to say that -the mandate for the talks is the joint letter and the Camp David agreement. There it is written who should participate and who is invited to participate, and I gave expression to my personal view and to the view of my delegation that absence can be a protest against the problem or against the solution of the problem, but only presence can contribute to the solution of the problem. So because our mandate is the joint letter of President Sadat and Prime Minister Begin to President Carter, and the framework of Camp David, so surely it will advance and enhance the proceedings of talks if those that we are talking about would participate.

Q: (To Dr. Khalil): Mr. Prime Minister, could you please elaborate on the Egyptian view of the American role in these negotiations?

A: Well, I think our view - we have stated it in Alexandria - we consider the Americans as full partners in the negotiations. How can you define "full partner" or a partner, or what role and all that, is of course something that can be agreed upon, but our understanding of the American role is that they are a full partner in the negotiations, and that's why we welcome Mr. Strauss' participation in the next round of negotiations. I met Mr. Strauss in Cairo once, but it was not a very long meeting, and I think we are going to meet when he comes, perhaps on the 3rd of July, and this will give us a better opportunity to know him personally...

A full partner can be looked at as a catalyst in a chemical reaction, or a full partner can be looked at as part of the chemical reaction itself. From my experience in the past, the negotiations were successful between Egypt and Israel when the Americans acted as full partners - in the two senses.

Dr. Burg: I would like to add something to this. In the Camp David Agreement it is stipulated: "The United States shall be invited to participate in the talks in matters related to the modalities of the implementation of the agreements and working out the time-table for the carrying out of the obligations of the parties". And in the letter of 26 March 1979 it is stated that this letter also confirms our understanding that the United States Government will participate fully in all stages of the negotiations. And this I believe is a very clear definition. Nothing should be added and nothing should be detracted.

Q: Prime Minister Khalil, I would like to ask you if you as Prime Minister of Egypt and head of the Egyptian Government are, in the absence of Palestinians here, are actually speaking on their behalf, as Foreign Minister Dayan said you were.

A: No, I'm not speaking on their behalf by any means. I explained the position of the Egyptian delegation before -because according to Camp David, you know, an invitation has to be extended, and we really would like to see them join and participate in the negotiations. But if you take the process of the negotiations, the outcome of the negotiations, and what we mean and what we are trying to arrive at - we are not trying to speak for the Palestinians, we mainly have two tasks: one task is to try to find a way for the modalities to carry out free elections. This is one very important aspect. The other is, the outcome of these elections would be to form a council, elected freely by the inhabitants of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. And this council, according to Camp David, will take the responsibility for speaking on behalf of the Palestinians. So we are not taking a role of speaking for the Palestinians, and we are not assuming that role - but we are trying to find a way that there can be a Palestinian presence, if not at the present stage, then it can be existing in the future.

Q: Is there a discussion of the Palestinian problem at these meetings?

A: We are confining ourselves, as Dr. Burg said, with the Camp David accord, and with the exchange of a letter on the 26th of March. We are not discussing the Palestinian problem, as you might think, but if you read carefully the Camp David accord you can know exactly what we are really discussing, because we are limiting ourselves to the Camp David accord and to the letter.

Press for print versionPrint version
Send To Friend