175. Paper Prepared by the National Security Council Staff1


Mid-East Policy Options

Attached is a policy options paper which focuses more narrowly than that considered at the last meeting2 (at last tab, “NSSM 103 Op[Page 594]tions Paper”)3 on the present situation. The main new element is the UAR request for General Assembly debate on the Mid-East which begins October 26.

Recapitulation of Discussion at Last Meeting

Discussion at the SRG meeting October 15, you will recall, seemed to lead to a consensus that there would be some advantage in not negotiating an extension of the cease-fire beyond November 5, but simply letting the date pass with statements of intent from both sides not to resume the shooting. The main points were:

—Israel probably would not agree to an extension of the cease-fire without some rectification of the standstill violations. That is a prescription for an impasse.

—If there were a de facto cease-fire without formal linkage to negotiations, talks could be proposed on their own merits. Israel, at least, would be willing to base its observance on the June 1967 ceasefire resolutions.

—The advantage to Israel is that it would be released from the June formula and would increase its military flexibility. The advantage to the Arabs is that they would not have to agree to a formal cease-fire.4 The danger is that the shooting would start again. The Arabs cannot accept a permanent cease-fire.

The Immediate Problem—Strategy in the UNGA

It is not clear what the UAR’s objective is. In general, it probably wants to apply pressure on the U.S. to get talks started right away without rectification and would like to find a face-saving formula for extending the cease-fire. But the UAR does not appear to have thought through the kind of resolution it wants.

There are some indications it wants a resolution limited to reaffirmation of Resolution 242, a call for resumption of the Jarring talks and extension of the ceasefire for a specified period. Pressures may mount, however, for language on withdrawal or the Palestinians that goes beyond Resolution 242. According to Mrs. Meir, Israel would resist even the former if the breach in the standstill agreement is permitted to stand.

The options paper outlines two possible broad strategies:

1. Work with others—particularly UAR and USSR—in an effort to contain the UNGA debate and produce a resolution which avoids undercutting the delicate balance in Resolution 242.

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Pro. This is probably the minimum foreseeable outcome and could provide part of a basis for beginning talks as well as continuing the ceasefire.

Con. We could not expect a resolution which referred to the standstill violations. Without that, we would in voting for such a resolution expose ourselves to Israeli and probably domestic criticism for acquiescing in a Soviet-UAR breach of agreement. Moreover, cooperating with the USSR in the wake of the violations would weaken our position.

2. Adhere firmly to the position that any GA action must take account of the standstill violations and the need for rectification.

Pro. This would put us in a position after the debate to tell Israel we had made an all-out effort on the violations but now it is time to put this effort behind us and get on with peace talks.

Con. This could produce Arab counter-reaction and a more pro-Arab resolution and also make it more difficult for us to get off the rectification hook afterwards.5

Comment: Some combination of the above is probably the most likely approach. The paper suggests, for example: Tell the UAR and Soviets that we cannot go along with a resolution that ignores the violations issue but if the final outcome is a resolution or consensus that does not destroy the balance of Resolution 242 we would engage ourselves to start the Jarring talks. A variation of this course might be to imply this but not promise it.

A harder alternative in this vein would be to make clear to the USSR that the U.S. will have nothing to do with launching negotiations if Resolution 242 is undercut. We would offer nothing.

The real issue, however, would seem to be whether there is any advantage in the UNGA in having the U.S. peace initiative, laudable as it was, declared ended or transformed to a new stage. This might be one way of acknowledging the standstill violations.6

The Problem of Getting Talks Started

The problem will be how to bring Israel along. It has painted itself into a corner (perhaps deliberately) on the rectification issue.

Since the ceasefire/standstill will not be renewed in its present form after November 5, a new phase of peacemaking will have begun.

One issue which the options paper hints at but does not really address is: Is there any special advantage in signaling the end of our peace initia[Page 596]tive? The paper suggests ending our U–2 flights. Although Secretary Rogers has dismissed the idea of announcing the end of our initiative, that is also a possibility.

Pro. While someone in Israel would have to take the trouble to make this argument work, ending our peace initiative with more aircraft, electronic equipment and $500 million in financial assistance could permit Israel to say it is beginning talks on the basis of its long term commitment to cooperate with Jarring. It might help if talks could begin at the Foreign Minister level.

Con. This would probably cost us Israel’s commitment to the U.S. formula which was to have been the basis for talks even if it worked. More important, though, it seems unlikely that anyone in Israel would really want talks badly enough to want to make this work.

The options paper ends at this point, saying it will be necessary to explore these and other ways to persuade Israel to negotiate.

The issue stated above—exploring whether there is some advantage in ending the 90-day period of the U.S. initiative in some semi-formal way—needs to be further explored. We would not have to declare it dead. We might simply declare it transformed. The points in such a transfiguration might look something like the following:

—The U.S. launched an initiative in June to enable the belligerents to “stop shooting and start talking.”

—Everyone has gained from the fact that the ceasefire has held.

—Part of the understanding reached during the first stage of that initiative was that talks would be based on a military standstill. That part of the agreement has been undercut. There have been two consequences of this:

—Good faith for talks has been undercut.

—The military balance from which talks were to have started has been changed.

—It remains urgent to get talks started. There seems to be no way of repairing the damage done to good faith. That is history now. There are ways of restoring the military balance, and these have been attended to.

—The UN Security Council resolutions of 1967 (ceasefire and settlement) are still the basis for talks.7 We believe [and some arrangements have been made] that the General Assembly debate should now be followed by talks at the Foreign Minister level while the ministers are in New York.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–048, Senior Review Group Meetings, Senior Review Group—Future Mid-East Options 10/26/70. Secret; Nodis. All brackets are in the original. The undated paper that this paper summarizes, “Addendum to Middle East Policy Options Paper,” is attached. At an October 26 NSC Senior Staff meeting, Kissinger commented that the paper was “loaded” and complained that “the option to carry out the existing Presidential commitment was not included.” He remarked further that the paper was “sloppy not only in its analysis but in its statement of alternative remedies” and “wondered if would not have been just as easy to draft a poor paper biased in one direction as in another.” (Memorandum for the record, October 26; Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL–314, NSC Meetings)
  2. See Document 172.
  3. The paper is summarized in Document 170.
  4. Kissinger wrote in the margin next to this sentence: “How?”
  5. Kissinger wrote in the margin next to this paragraph: “How?”
  6. Kissinger wrote in the margin next to this paragraph: “We could have neutral resolution reaffirming all previous ones.”
  7. Reference is to UN Security Resolutions 233, which called for an immediate cease-fire, and 242.