Begin wakes up to the fact that the Egyptians came with a proposal, the US has now prepared one, and the Israelis have nothing to offer except intransigence.
On the world stage, Begin knows that his act will not play well.
“The man who came to Camp David thinking he had the least to lose now realized he had created a trap for himself. He had nothing new to offer. He had no strategy. The Israeli team had arrived without background materials or alternative proposals and practically no preparation.”
After almost a week of negotiations involving hundreds of people, the Israelis decide that they need to prepare a proposal!?
The problem, however, was Begin’s mindset: “compromise and defeat were one and the same.”
Carter tried a mediator tactic. He took everyone to Gettysburg, the turf where so much blood had been spilled by men with intransigent positions.
Begin told his team to prepare a non-negotiable proposal and make plans to leave the negotiations.
On the way to Gettysburg, Carter arranged for Sadat, Begin, and Carter to ride together with Carter in the middle.
Carter brought up a strange topic: the years both Sadat and Begin had spent in prison.
Although a seemingly negative topic, it emphasized a bond they had and it hit on deep-seated emotions.
“In the presidential limousine, the two men seemed to enjoy talking about their time behind bars. By the time they entered the gates of Gettysburg, both Sadat and Begin were in high spirits.”
Lesson: Never underestimate the power of pointing out commonality.
Later in the day, the US team met with the Israeli team and presented the US proposal, which was not a comprehensive proposal designed to resolve all issues, but rather it was more of an attempt to narrow the issues, addressing the easier ones while leaving thorny issues like the West Bank, Gaza, Israeli settlements in occupied territories, and the Sinai for later.
When Begin flinches, Carter uses muscle diplomacy.
Begin’s general approach was highly legalistic. Who can fault him? After all, he was a lawyer. Like many lawyers, he wanted to focus on phrasing and parsing.
Begin was furious and believed that Carter was biased in favor of Egypt, which was probably true, but for some strange reason, even though he found the US proposal wholly unacceptable, Begin deferred his plans to leave the negotiating table.
At a subsequent meeting that evening, Carter and Begin argue over the plight of the Palestinians.
Dayan, of all people, jumps into the fray, undermines Begin, and indicates that the Israelis will reconsider.
Carter snaps to the fact that Dayan and Weizman are the voices of reason for the Israelis.
Carter continues to try to muscle Begin.
“Mr. President,” Begin said, “No threats, please.”
In the wee hours of Day 6, Carter walks back to his cabin with Dayan.
Dayan suggests a solution to the problem of the settlements: that the Israelis be allowed to stay temporarily.
Carter then, master of the “emotional payment” (to use the nomenclature of Stuart Diamond), offers Dayan a bag of Georgia peanuts.
I’m not kidding you.
“Dayan was touched by the simple gesture.”
In one of the strangest events of the entire negotiations, Dayan, who had lost his left eye in battle, and was going blind in the right eye, walked into a tree and came away with a bloody nose.
Lesson: Negotiations that go into the wee hours are almost always fraught with unusual risks.