Saturday, November 16, 2013

Begin's "Provocative Nature"

From Ian Black's "CIA spills Camp David secrets on 1978 Egyptian-Israeli agreement": Declassified documents reveal how US intelligence helped Jimmy Carter strike a Middle Eastern bargain.'s still interesting to get even a sanitized glimpse of what the CIA was up to as it helped prepare for one of the triumphs of US Middle East diplomacy in the 20th century...information the agency put together for President Jimmy Carter on the eve of the Camp David summit in September 1978...[a]"briefing book" includes perceptive and quotable personality profiles of the protagonists - Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat, the Egyptian president.

Looking at the Israeli leader the CIA observed "growing oppositional properties in Begin's personality." It pointed too to his "facility for statements of a provocative nature, often precipitated by reporters' questions."
Zbigniew Brzezinski, Carter's national security adviser, told the president before the summit at the Maryland retreat:

...Begin probably believes that a failure at Camp David will hurt you and Sadat, but not him. He may even want to see Sadat discredited and you weakened, thus leaving him with the tolerable status quo instead of pressures to change his life-long beliefs concerning Judea and Samaria. (the biblical Hebrew names for the West Bank.)

The declassified records offer few clues about the part of the Camp David agreement that failed completely — the plan for Palestinian autonomy in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip...

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