Nation: Carter's Swift Revival

His summit triumph brings him

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To support the U.S. argument, officials in Washington showed reporters a copy of an early version of one provision that they said was to have been published as a supplementary agreement and that seemed to uphold the U.S. position on the issue. Complained Begin: "Let me respectfully say that they shouldn't have done that. It's not proper to show to the media texts that have not been approved." But he didn't budge on the settlements, which the U.S. has repeatedly declared to be "illegal." To put further pressure on Begin, the U.S. withheld a letter promising that the U.S. would build two military bases in Israel's Negev desert to compensate for Israeli withdrawal from three airfields in the Sinai. Though no connection was formally drawn between the airfields and the settlements, the message was clear enough. Before leaving for Israel, Begin seemed to relent a bit. He said he would consult other members of the Israeli delegation, whose own statements have been closer to the U.S. position. "I will respect their better memory," he pledged.

The other object of anguished controversy was the city of Jerusalem, which was omitted entirely from the Camp David agreement. In another letter released last week, Sadat argued that East Jerusalem should be under Arab sovereignty, that all of the city's holy places should be controlled by their respective religious groups and that the essential functions of the city should be administered by a municipal council with equal numbers of Arab and Israeli members. "In this way," said Sadat, "the city shall be undivided." In Begin's letter, he uncompromisingly restated he Israeli position that "Jerusalem is one city indivisible, the capital of the state of Israel." Finally, Carter's letter asserted that the U.S. viewpoint, unchanged since 1967, declares the sovereignty of the city to be an open question, subject to future negotiations. Observed a U.S. State Department official: "It's absolutely impossible to write a paragraph on Jerusalem that both sides could agree to. It just doesn't work."

Looking back over Carter's remarkable diplomatic maneuver, TIME Washington Contributing Editor Hugh Sidey summarizes:

"The men, the mood, the time, the issues, the place, the weather and providence conspired on that Maryland mountaintop to produce Carter's Middle East summit success. Those who watched him closely in the hours after the summit adrenaline stopped pumping saw at least two things. Carter had a genuine increase in self-confidence and what one participant described as a 'new maturity,' which in essence was an understanding of the bits and pieces of presidential experience collected over the past 20 months. At last he seemed to fuse them into a leadership device of his design.

"Carter's control of the environment so that his special dimensions of personality and persuasion were most effective was masterly. He did not sermonize or drop new proposals like bombs. He took ideas from both men, combined them with his own, then carried them back as if they were the inspirations of his guests. Such subtle flattery got him almost everything.

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