195. Minutes of a Senior Review Group Meeting1


  • Middle East Negotiations


  • Chairman—Henry A. Kissinger
  • State
  • John N. Irwin
  • Joseph Sisco
  • Alfred Atherton
  • Thomas Thornton
  • Defense
  • David Packard
  • Armistead Selden
  • James Noyes
  • JCS
  • Lt. Gen. R. Knowles
  • Adm. William St. George
  • CIA
  • Richard Helms
  • David Blee
  • NSC Staff
  • Harold Saunders
  • Chester Crocker
  • Jeanne W. Davis
[Page 689]


It was agreed that:

1. State will prepare a paper, in consultation with Defense, assuming the negotiations will break down, assessing the military and political situations, considering our political and military options, with some idea of the type of settlement we might consider acceptable, and what we mean by guarantees, with the pros and cons of various guarantee schemes;2

2. the NSC staff will prepare a paper, for Presidential decision, on the advantages and disadvantages of using the Jackson Amendment for provision of assistance to Israel as opposed to the normal foreign military sales legislation;3

3. subject to any questions Mr. Sisco might have, Defense could proceed to grant most of the Israeli request for production assistance on a list of items;

4. Defense will examine alternative aircraft production plans so that our ability to deliver aircraft to Israel will not be dictated by our production capabilities.

(Before the meeting began, Mr. Noyes distributed the attached paper: Questions on U.S. Objectives and Strategy in Mid-East Peace Negotiations)4

Mr. Kissinger: I thought we might have a quick run-through of where we stand on various items. What about our diplomatic situation?

[Page 690]

Mr. Sisco: The Israelis put forward some concrete suggestions to Jarring during his visit there.5 Their proposal outlines some of the essential elements, from the Israeli point of view, of a peace settlement. While it obviously falls short of where we would have to be at the end of the line, it is a reasonable opening gambit. Jarring also judges the proposal to be a reasonable beginning. He assured us late last evening that he is approaching the proposal in a positive frame of mind. This is helpful, since if he had decided that the proposal was insufficient—too little and too late—it would have died there. He will put the proposal to the Egyptians this afternoon. I am concerned about the Egyptian reaction. The public statements from Cairo, particularly in the last ten days, have been stronger than normal. Sadat could be digging himself into a hole that he would have difficulty getting out of.

Mr. Kissinger: Why is he getting himself into something that might be hard to get out of?

Mr. Sisco: I don’t know if he wants to get out. Their recent public statements might reflect the fact that the Egyptians do not feel themselves strong enough to get into the give and take of negotiations. It raises the question of whether Egypt can get itself in a position to enter negotiations or whether the pressures are such that they would prefer an alternate route. Riad has been talking to the British and French and today the Italians. They are also sending other representatives to other capitals, particularly the African capitals. This looks like they are preparing for a move into the UN Security Council. The Egyptians are emphasizing that either the Four Powers or the Security Council should lay down an explicit view, calling for total Israeli withdrawal, guarantees of a settlement, a solution of the Egyptian border question, etc. If they are saying this privately, on top of their public statements, I wonder what their reaction to the Israeli opening proposal will be. We may be reaching a critical juncture. We may be confronted with increased propaganda and maneuvering in the UN which will set us back.

Mr. Kissinger: Do I understand correctly that Jarring is giving the Israeli proposal to the Egyptians this afternoon, and they will either reject it or offer a counter-proposal?

Mr. Sisco: Jarring will try to get a reaction that will enable them to continue a dialogue. The Egyptians can reject it as an instance of further [Page 691] Israeli delay and call for a Security Council meeting tomorrow. They can come back with a counter-proposal. They can delay calling a SC meeting, but tell Jarring that the Israeli proposal is not enough and that he should go back and get more. It is in our interest to support Jarring in putting a positive cast on the Israeli proposal. I am seeing the British and French later today and will tell them that we think this is a beginning. I will ask them to encourage Cairo to come back with a counter-proposal so the negotiating process can continue.

Mr. Kissinger: How can the negotiating process continue? Why is it not mathematically certain to deadlock.

Mr. Sisco: The odds are certainly very great that it will deadlock, but I would not say mathematically certain. The odds are strongly against us. But we do have an Israeli proposal in writing and we hope we can get something in writing from the other side. If we assess the situation objectively, we have an Israel which is basically reluctant to proceed with the negotiations. And we have a situation in Cairo where the new group may think it is too weak to come forward with a concrete proposal.

Mr. Kissinger: So what will happen?

Mr. Sisco: I don’t think shooting will resume on February 5 when the cease-fire expires. I think the Egyptians will mobilize maximum pressure on us in the context of the UN. The critical juncture will come some time after the deadline—March or so. Resumption of Security Council operations will not be helpful. It will provide Israel with a further pretext (as did the General Assembly debate) for not participating seriously, using the argument that they have put something forward and the other side has not. If the Egyptians move to the UN, it will strengthen the Israeli argument that Cairo is not seriously interested in negotiating and that this is largely a propaganda exercise. This would raise some fundamental questions on the long-range implications on the ground (how long can violence and counter-violence be avoided?) and on the political side. The thrust of the US position has been to try to get the parties to negotiate. If this is not possible, we will have to make some judgement as to who is primarily responsible. We will also have to consider whether the time has come for the US to try to impose something in the Four-Power context; or to decide that negotiations are not possible and to disengage ourselves from the Four-Power context and from further US efforts.

Mr. Kissinger: You are not now thinking of anything in the Two-Power context?

Mr. Sisco: No. The Russian willingness to do something in Cairo will be tested in the current phase. While the US-Soviet alternative may be an option for us, we won’t know until after this phase.

[Page 692]

Mr. Kissinger: I just want to avoid looking at this option with a six-hour deadline. How can we get this possibility before this group for thorough, systematic consideration? I think we are likely to be heading toward that choice. Even if we should assume that Israel would be willing to go back to its border with Egypt (which I don’t think will be true), we know they won’t return to their old border with Jordan.

Mr. Sisco: We can prepare a paper with Defense that makes the assumption that the negotiations will break down and assesses the military situation on the Egyptian-Israeli front, the diplomatic situation and our options on the political and military side. I agree that it is about time to think about what to do if and when the negotiations break down.

Mr. Kissinger: You will do the paper?

Mr. Sisco: Yes.

Mr. Kissinger: It is probable that the negotiations will deadlock. We need to know what the issues are.

Mr. Packard: Shouldn’t we put some effort into what we might consider acceptable? We should have some idea of what we think.

Mr. Kissinger: I agree. (to Mr. Sisco) Wasn’t there an element of that in the papers you did a year ago?

Mr. Sisco: Yes.

Mr. Kissinger: Let’s look at it again.

Mr. Packard: We’re talking about pressure on Israel, but pressure to do what?

Mr. Sisco: Yes, we will consider that in the context of the new paper.

Mr. Kissinger: In talking about guarantees, I assume we mean what Israel would want as a quid pro quo for withdrawal. But we have never had a systematic examination of the pros and cons of the various guarantee schemes.

Mr. Packard: That’s a good idea. These range all the way from a unilateral agreement to supply certain equipment under certain contingencies to a formal alliance of some sort.

Mr. Kissinger: Can we wrap all this together? Not the immediate tactics of the negotiations, but what happens when the negotiations deadlock; what sort of decisions we will face, what we mean by guarantees. This is part of the question of what settlement we might be willing to propose.

Mr. Irwin: We have had a long discussion of guarantees. The question of a real political guarantee—an alliance of some sort—has all sorts of problems.

Mr. Packard: Also, some other alternatives might be more effective than the things we’ve talked about.

[Page 693]

Mr. Irwin: We might ask Dick (Helms) how much farther the Soviets are willing to go in giving military assistance to Egypt.

Mr. Helms: Quite far.

Mr. Packard: The Soviets could get involved in two ways: in advance of an Israeli attack, or they could be pulled in gradually in a war of attrition. I can see some advantage to Israel to get it over with quickly, which might discourage a Soviet response.

Mr. Kissinger: I agree we should have a meeting on all these issues soon. At this meeting I merely wanted to raise the issues of where we are going, the question of guarantees, what sort of settlement we would consider reasonable, what we really want if the thing takes a military course.

Mr. Irwin: Dave (Packard) makes a good point on the possibility of a slow Soviet build up. Also, would the Soviets be prepared to move in quickly on their side before we go in on the side of Israel?

Mr. Kissinger: I didn’t understand Dave to say that we would go in on the side of Israel.

Mr. Irwin: I didn’t mean that that was what Dave said. However, if Israel believes that, with our military support, they can move quickly, the Soviets might move more quickly to keep us out. I didn’t mean to get into this abstraction.

Mr. Helms: It’s not all that abstract.

Mr. Packard: We will have to think about this ahead of time.

Mr. Kissinger: That raises the question of the Israeli military requests.

Mr. Sisco: Before we go to that, may I say a little more about guarantees based on our paper. We draw the distinction between international guarantees and bilateral assurances. We have established a general framework on this issue on the basis of the President’s and the Secretary’s public statements. Assuming the negotiations go on for a while, we have an immediate tactical question: do we discuss the question of international guarantees in the Four-Power context. I think yes. The Secretary has already indicated to the other parties that such discussions would be useful. What are the elements here?

First, on the political side, we have opted for the Israeli view that the principal element of a guarantee is a peace agreement with reciprocal obligations on both sides. Second, our October and December papers indicated that the US would be willing to endorse such an agreement within the meaning of the UN resolution.6 This adds a political, psychological element, but is clearly of an additive character. And [Page 694] third, the willingness of the US to participate in a UN peacekeeping operation with other UN members. It would be helpful if the Defense Department could look at this in the technical sense. State is already looking at it from a political point of view, but it would be helpful if Defense could look at what would be involved—how many people, etc.

Mr. Kissinger: Have we examined the relative advantages and disadvantages of a Four-Power force as against a neutral force?

Mr. Sisco: Yes, we are examining that in our political paper on the international guarantees. Also there has to be a paper on what assurances the US can provide bilaterally. What inducements can the US provide to persuade Israel to exchange some territory for some international guarantees and bilateral assurances? What sort of long-range military and financial commitment should we make to Israel? There is also a wide range of assurances on the political side of the US attitude in circumstances where Israel might be in jeopardy, ranging from a formal alliance (which the President has set aside) to simple assurance to consult.

Mr. Packard: We should also consider what assurances might be justified in helping achieve a Palestinian solution. Possible inducement to the Palestinians might be an important key.

Mr. Sisco: That is a very sound suggestion.

Mr. Irwin: And we should also consider the effect of Four-Power vs. Two-Power involvement, including the Israeli attitude toward having Soviet troops close to its borders.

Mr. Kissinger: The guarantees have to be something Israeli wants. We can’t ram both an unpalatable settlement and unpalatable guarantees down their throats. What do we want the guarantees to do? What do we want them to prevent? What forces are most suitable to achieving our objectives? Let’s get some preliminary work done on this and then have another meeting.7

On the question of arms supply, the President wants this issue out of the way by summer for a sufficient period so as to avoid endless debate in 1972. He wants it settled in 1971 for a period to go beyond 1972.

Mr. Sisco: That means that between now and the end of June we must make a decision.

Mr. Kissinger: It is not in the national interest to have an escalating debate next year on various packages in which everyone is trying to outdo everyone else in an election year. The President is not necessarily suggesting a high package. He just wants it done by summer. I think this is in the interest of a moderate policy.

[Page 695]

Mr. Packard: We should be aware that by not relying on the Jackson Amendment we have constrained our flexibility in 1972.

Mr. Sisco: But we haven’t closed any doors, have we?

Mr. Packard: By going the foreign military sales route we avoided trouble with the committees. But the Jackson Amendment would make it possible for us to move more quickly with his support.

Mr. Kissinger: But if we used largely the Jackson Amendment, people will argue that we didn’t really need the money for Israel and had tricked them into giving us the money for Cambodia.8

Mr. Packard: Yes, the argument was that Israel would help carry the supplemental through. But there will be some changes in the committees this year and we were just lucky in getting it split away from Fulbright. We propose using both—some money for Israel in FMS and some under the Jackson Amendment.

Mr. Irwin: In earlier discussions, Defense had suggested $300 million in Jackson money and $200 million in FMS money. State thought we should go the normal route since we would get into trouble with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The White House, specifically OMB, took the position that it should all be done in the normal framework of foreign military sales.

Mr. Kissinger: We can reopen this question. Would this make the Jackson Amendment lapse completely?

Mr. Irwin: It is a question of the attitude of Jackson versus the attitude of the SFRC.

Mr. Packard: Jackson thinks we will be in worse political trouble by not using his amendment than by using it.

Mr. Kissinger: This is a political decision which the President should make.

Mr. Packard: I agree. If the President hasn’t looked at it specifically, he should.

Mr. Kissinger: He hasn’t since this hasn’t been a substantive issue.

Mr. Sisco: If we do go the foreign military sales route, the door should be left open to go the Jackson route.

Mr. Selden: Defense suggested $300 million in the budget, with $100 tied to FMS and $200 tied to the Jackson Amendment.

Mr. Kissinger: I haven’t really engaged myself in this issue.

Mr. Packard: If we get hung up on the FMS bill, we may have to do something in a hurry. This will be difficult without the Jackson Amendment.

[Page 696]

Mr. Irwin: If the President does opt for the FMS route, what would Jackson’s attitude be if we have to go back to his amendment? Would he be annoyed?

Mr. Packard: Jackson says he doesn’t care personally, but there is strong sentiment in the Senate for his amendment. There are two sides to this, of course.

Mr. Irwin: I agree it is a political question.

Mr. Kissinger: (to Hal Saunders) Will you do a paper on this right away, with the pros and cons. Check it with State and Defense and get it to San Clemente tomorrow.

Mr. Irwin: Our Congressional Relations people think that if we go essentially the Jackson route, we will have difficult problems in the Foreign Relations Committee, and possibly in the House Foreign Affairs Committee if we give the impression of pulling away from these committees. They also point out that the SFRC went 2–1 against Fulbright for the Administration on the supplemental.

Mr. Kissinger: Would we have the money if we worked through Jackson?

Mr. Selden: We already have the authorization.

Mr. Sisco: Will $300 million be sufficient?

Mr. Packard: Probably not.

Mr. Selden: But we have an open-ended authorization under the Jackson Amendment.

Mr. Kissinger: Would $100 million be enough to keep the Jackson Amendment alive?

Mr. Packard: Anything to give recognition to the possibility of that route. It could even be a statement that this amount might not be adequate and that we might request additional appropriations under the authorization of the Jackson Amendment.

Mr. Kissinger: That’s an important element.

Mr. Packard: I would also like to raise the Israeli request for production assistance on spare parts, etc. We would like to go ahead on that. It seems a reasonable request.

Mr. Kissinger: Does anyone oppose?

Mr. Sisco: Do we have a paper that describes this process? This is a long outstanding request and I agree in principle but I would like to see a paper. (Mr. Noyes gave Mr. Sisco and others the last two pages of the Technical Options paper.)9

[Page 697]

Mr. Packard: There are some things on there that are very sensitive. They have asked for assistance on some 200 items, and I think we can do most of the 200. Third-country sales by Israel of these items would be prohibited.

Mr. Kissinger: Let’s say that you could go ahead subject to any questions Joe (Sisco) might have in the next 48 hours.

Mr. Sisco: It seems a sensible thing to do.

Mr. Irwin: With regard to furnishing aircraft to Israel, my concern is not for or against any scheme of providing aircraft, but that we are sure we are not denigrating our abilities to equip our own forces beyond what Defense really thinks is wise.

Mr. Packard: The question of aircraft availability should be a part of the long-range paper we will be doing.

Mr. Kissinger: I agree it should be part of that paper. The question is how to move this to a decision.

Mr. Sisco: I think Jack (Irwin) is raising a more immediate question. We can say that we need not make a decision right now. But Israel will counter with the argument that, if we do not decide now, given our production priorities, what will happen in July? We can see a reason to decide in the next four or five months. What does Defense have to do with regard to production if we have to deliver these planes? There are certain internal steps we should be taking to avoid having to take these planes out of production for our own forces.

Mr. Packard: We will look at all the alternatives.

Mr. Kissinger: I agree with Joe (Sisco) that we should look at this now so that we’re not precluded from taking a decision by summer. We don’t want to commit ourselves to any program now, but we want to be sure that we have all our options and that our hands are not tied by our production capabilities. If it is to be done this year, we should be in a position to give some assurances on military deliveries. It might be important for us to be able to move fast. Let’s look at this question, but in a way so Israel doesn’t get wind of it.

Mr. Packard: We’ll do our best.

Mr. Irwin: There could be circumstances where we might unduly draw down our own strength.

Mr. Packard: Some people will think we are doing that whatever we do.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–112, Senior Review Group, SRG Minutes (Originals) 1971. Secret. The meeting was held in the White House Situation Room.
  2. For an analytical summary of this paper, see Document 198.
  3. For the Jackson Amendment, see footnote 5, Document 157. The paper was not found, but on January 28, the President directed Laird: “Pursuant to the authority contained in the Supplemental Appropriation Act, 1971, I hereby allocate from the appropriation for “Military credit sales to Israel’ to the Secretary of Defense $500,000,000.00 to be expended by said Secretary to finance the sale of defense articles and services to Israel. I direct that the procedures for interdepartmental consultation and coordination under the Foreign Military Sales Act and Executive Order No. 11501, providing for Administration of Foreign Military Sales, be followed in expending the funds hereby allocated.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 608, Country Files, Middle East, Israel, Vol. VIII)
  4. Attached but not printed. The questions were: “Should other questions take priority over deciding on further arms commitments to Israel? Would a successful U.S. initiative for full diplomatic relations with UAR help de-polarize the atmosphere, exert pressure on the Soviets, and lend credence to the evenhandedness of the U.S. peace initiative? Would Israel perform better during negotiations if she knows more precisely what the U.S. expects? Should we attach conditions at the time of any further arms commitments rather than rely solely on exerting pressure at some future date?”
  5. In telegram 147 from Tel Aviv, January 9, the Embassy reported Jarring’s 2½-hour conversation with Meir and Eban the previous day, including the text of the proposal that Israel handed to the Special Representative entitled “Essentials of Peace.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1159, Saunders Files, Middle East Negotiations Files, Middle East—Jarring Talks) Israel prepared three versions of the proposal, addressed to the United Arab Republic, Lebanon, and Jordan. (Telegram 152 from Tel Aviv, January 10; ibid.) Jarring was in Israel January 7–10.
  6. See Documents 58 and 78.
  7. See Document 199.
  8. Reference is to the supplemental foreign aid package that the White House sent to Capitol Hill on November 18, 1970, and that Congress passed on December 22.
  9. Summarized in Document 194.