43. Memorandum of Conversation1
- Yigal Allon, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Israel
- Ambassador Simcha Dinitz, Israeli Ambassador to the US
- Ambassador Yosef Tekoah, Israeli Permanent Representative to the United Nations
- Dr. Meir Rosenne, Legal Adviser to the Foreign Minister
- Mordechai Shalev, Minister, Embassy of Israel
- Eytan Ben-Zur, Assistant to the Foreign Minister
- Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President
- Joseph J. Sisco, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs
- Alfred L. Atherton, Jr., Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs
- Harold H. Saunders, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs
- Robert B. Oakley, National Security Council Senior Staff
- Peter W. Rodman, National Security Council Staff
- Jackson Amendment; Cyprus; Palestinian Question in UNGA; Next Phase of the Negotiations; Syrian Jewry/Body Searches in Egypt
[Omitted here is a brief exchange of pleasantries, including discussion of published reports that Dinitz might be “out of favor” with Rabin.]
Allon: I read the speech of your great ally Gromyko.2 It said nothing in particular. He was trying to impress the American people [Page 131] that Russia is reasonable. Just one little hint about restoring diplomatic relations. Do you attach importance to it?
Kissinger: I don’t attribute any importance to it. They see things going their way and they just say enough but not so much that they’re blamed for what happens. I think they have some interest in restoring contacts with you. I don’t attach importance to it. When Gromyko saw me,3 he had a list of questions for us, which I couldn’t give answers to, which he could then tell the Arabs. Which we believe he’s done.
I don’t think the Soviets will affect the next two to three months. They won’t alleviate things, but they won’t make things much worse.
Allon: They have a special attitude to our problems: In one respect it may be important: For a Russian Jew, an Israeli Embassy in the heart of Moscow means something. To the Free World, it doesn’t make sense.
Kissinger: The negotiations with Jackson may break down.
Allon: Break down? I thought there was an understanding.
Kissinger: Once Richard Perle and Dorothy Fosdick realize they’re dealing with Americans instead of with a foreign government . . . Let me tell you where it stands. I’m prepared to write a letter saying what Gromyko tells me, which should be a good basis for emigration—no harassment, everybody gets a visa, and national security cases can be no more than one percent of the total.
Allon: No figure.
Kissinger: No figure, because they’re a sovereign and can’t determine the number of applicants. He wants to write a letter saying what he thinks this means: sixty thousand. So in 1976 he’ll accuse us of trickery.
We can’t confirm things that the Russians never told us.
And the leadership wants me to write a letter to them so Jackson doesn’t get all the credit.4
Sisco: Tell them about the waiver issue.
Kissinger: He wants Congress to decide positively by a vote in April 1976—in the middle of a Presidential campaign.
December 1975 is better for us than April 1976. December 1976 is better. From the American domestic political point of view, there is no candidate who won’t make it an issue. And we can’t accept a Congressional vote—that will start it all over again. We’re willing to give them a Congressional veto, which is already too much.[Page 132]
He’s done things which are outrageous. He says he’s gotten concessions the Russians hadn’t given to us. This is not true. In the letter, there are things we got from the Russians in March. The only thing new is the President called him in and put himself behind it, which President Nixon didn’t do.
Dinitz: But you yourself said you didn’t mind his getting the credit.
Kissinger: Up to a point. He’s saying the incompetent Administration got us into a mess and how he has gotten the figure up. We had emigration at 38,000; now he’s got it at 12,000. It’s the Jackson Amendment that got us into the decline. If the Russians carry out what they promised me—which I don’t guarantee—there will be no harassment, that everybody gets an exit visa, and that no more than one percent are delayed on national security grounds, then an increase in emigration is inevitable. We have enough contact with the Jewish Community in Russia to check it. If we try to enumerate what harassment means, everyone knows the Russians will find new ways of doing it. But we’ll spell out what they’ve told us.
He wants national security cases delayed no more than three years. Gromyko says they can’t do that, because it depends on each case, and they’ll review it at regular interviews.
We don’t have an answer yet. They’re already claiming betrayal.
Allon: It may have an effect on détente.
Tekoah: I’m not dealing with this, but from my experience in dealing with the Soviets,5 I have to say the crucial point is to get some number. Because when I was there, we always heard there were “no restrictions”—but they said there were no applications. There has to be some number.
Kissinger: They were willing to say 38,000.
Dinitz: At one point they said 45,000.
Kissinger: They even said we could say 45,000, but they tricked us. The only firm number has been 38,000. When I wanted to pin it down, they said I misunderstood them, even though I have a verbatim transcript.
Dinitz: He said this in Cyprus.
Kissinger: In Geneva, then he repeated it in Cyprus.
[Secretary Kissinger gets up] I’m more worried about the Fahmy visit than about Gromyko. [The party then went to the room next door for breakfast at 8:30 a.m.]
[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to U.S.-Soviet relations.]
- Source: National Archives, RG 59, Lot File 91D414, Records of Henry Kissinger, 1973–77, Box 22, Classified External Memcons, December 1974–April 1975 (Folder 2). Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Rodman. All brackets, except those inserted by the editor to indicate omitted passages, are in the original. The breakfast meeting was held in the Secretary’s suite (34A) at the Waldorf Towers.↩
- Reference is to Gromyko’s address to the UN General Assembly on September 24. In telegram 14494 from Moscow, September 25, the Embassy concluded that the speech was “a fairly mild replay of standard Soviet positions in most cases.” In its assessment of his remarks on the Middle East, the Embassy observed: “On Israel, Gromyko’s statement that ‘real, not illusory’ progress toward regularization of the Middle East situation ‘will create the necessary prerequisites for the development of Soviet relations with all nations of the Middle East, including Israel’ is the most positive official statement we have seen since the 6-Day War on the subject of Soviet-Israeli diplomatic relations.” “Given the continuing problems caused by the USSR’s lack of diplomatic contact with Israel,” the Embassy added, “it would not surprise us if Moscow were seeking to lay the groundwork for a reestablishment of some sort of relations.” (Ibid., Central Foreign Policy Files)↩
- Kissinger and Gromyko met for dinner at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York at 8:15 p.m. on September 24. A memorandum of conversation is in Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Kissinger–Scowcroft West Wing Office Files, 1974–1977, Box 27, USSR, The “D” File.↩
- See Document 42.↩
- Tekoah served as Israeli Ambassador to the Soviet Union in the early 1960s.↩