141. Transcript of a Telephone Conversation Between the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) and the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Sisco)1
S: I am trying to get the cease-fire proposal into effect, but it’s very complicated Henry.
K: I can imagine.
S: I just did a cable which I am going to take to the Secretary. It is a definitive proposal for a cease-fire standstill.2 We want to put it to the Israelis first. But I am recommending to the Secretary that it be cleared with you. I would be much more comfortable if it goes through you first.
K: Isn’t it a policy matter? So it has to be cleared with me?
S: Well I think it is. Secondly, I wanted to report to you where we stand on the question of military assistance which Israel has requested. They want as a matter of priority four things: 1) Helicopter standoff equipment to help jam SAM electrical equipment, 2) Shrikes, 3) CBUs (to attack SAM sites), 4) Pods—electrical equipment. I have had two good talks with Packard. He will, by tomorrow morning, see what is possible to present to the Israelis. But there needs to be a discussion with our Secretary of State and I think this is a matter of interest to the White House as well. The Secretary believes that the over-riding objec[Page 484]tive should be to get the cease-fire working immediately. If there is any further delay there may be incidents and also a loss of momentum. When the package is gotten together the Secretary wants to know whether and how we should tell the Israelis. Let me give you the Secretary’s thinking on this: If the Israelis are the cause of any delay in the establishment of a cease-fire, we shouldn’t provide the equipment. If, however, the Egyptians cause a delay and in a manner which would improve their situation, then we should study the whole thing further. In other words, the Secretary wants to look at the existing situation before we go ahead. Rabin has informed the Pentagon (either on a tactical basis or under instructions, I don’t know) that unless they get the four items and get the opportunity to hit the SAM sites, there may be a delay on the cease-fire. This is a form of pressure that didn’t go well with the Secretary. We took the view that the compelling need is to get on with the cease-fire and that it is just as much in the interest of the Israelis to do so as the others involved, if not more so. But the problem is that if you have a cease-fire and then the Israelis make a dramatic attack, the other side will feel the need to restore the balance and then you might as well not have a cease-fire.
K: If there is a cease-fire will they get the equipment?
S: Yes, the Secretary feels that we should give them the equipment and Dave Packard agrees, if there is a cease-fire.
K: So we can tell them that if there is a cease-fire they will get the equipment?
K: Do you agree with this?
S: Yes, generally. The Secretary and I agree that the overriding consideration is to get the cease-fire as quickly as possible.
K: When these things are discussed where is Saunders? Do I have a man in there?
S: No the reason is that these discussions go on in the Pentagon. The only discussion we’ve had with Packard are two brief telephone conversations. On this organizational thing, I’ll be taking care of that once we get over the hump on the cease-fire; it’s tough Henry.
K: How does the cease-fire look to you?
S: There’s a real hope. My only worry is that the Israelis will be insistent about getting the equipment and hitting the SAM sites before it. One other thing Rabin said to me and you may hear it from him . . .
K: He’s coming over this afternoon.3[Page 485]
S: I didn’t know that, but you should know one other thing he said was—last night he said to me that his government would in the cease-fire and standstill [submit] a political proposal for a rollback. I said that would be knocked out by the other side and that it changes our proposal. Then he said well at least give us the means immediately. I told him it is being looked at and that within 48 hours there will be some kind of judgment. But I would leave that very neutral; we’ll have to weigh these considerations. Their argument is “Never mind a perfect package: if you think we are wrong let us have the chance to prove it—just give us the wherewithal.” But the problem is if this were to go it would take days and we want the cease-fire in three or four days. I said there’s no way which, by a major attack, you can get this balance when they’ve got mobile SAMs; so the best thing for you to do is to get a cease-fire right away.
K: Good, that’s the line I will take. You have been very helpful.
S: It’s been very difficult—but who thought it was going to be easy?
K: Without your eternal optimism we’d be dead.
S: We’ve got to pull this off for the President.