198. Paper Prepared by the National Security Council Staff1


Guarantees of an Arab-Israeli Settlement

The Papers

Three papers produced in an interdepartmental working group are at the following tabs:2

“Guarantees Scenario.” This is a brief paper on the present tactical situation explaining how commitment this week to discuss the guarantees issue in the Four Power talks relates to Jarring’s next step in maintaining momentum in his talks and to the general effort to extend the cease-fire.3

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“Issues.” This is a discussion of the more important issues that must be looked at very carefully before the U.S. becomes too heavily committed in any direction on participating in guarantees. This is the paper you will want to concentrate on.

“Guarantees.” This is a basic study of what kinds of guarantees and inducements are possible. The summary below is enough if you are pressed for time.

In the analytical summary below, the first and last of the papers above are dealt with first since they describe what we are talking about. The latter half of this summary deals with the issues raised.


The situation is as you know it from your discussions with Sisco at the end of the week. These are the main elements [see tab marked “Guarantees Scenario” for Sisco paper]:

The UAR has dropped for the moment its plan to call a UN Security Council meeting. Its original intent was to urge the Security Council to take a position favoring total Israeli withdrawal to spur Jarring’s effort to achieve a settlement and to give the UAR an excuse to extend the cease-fire on February 5. The UAR suspended its plan on the assumption that Israel would be more forthcoming on withdrawal, if the US planned some move or if the Four Powers would increase their activity as pressure on Israel. The UAR has emphasized the importance to it of big-power guarantees for a settlement.

Jarring is planning to make a report to U Thant, possibly as early as Tuesday. The purpose of this would be to consolidate progress to date, provide a basis for his next round and indirectly give the UAR an excuse for extending the cease-fire. Jarring does not at present plan himself to call for extending the cease-fire, but U Thant appears ready to put a cover note on Jarring’s report doing so.

The Israelis have not expressed themselves formally on guarantees in the current talks, but their informal thoughts are these: They hope we will not take the pressure off the UAR by giving it reason to believe that the Four will do its work for it—that the UAR can substitute pressure by the Four on Israel for its own negotiating concessions. The Israelis would also object to US–USSR participation in a peacekeeping force (a) because that would put Soviet troops on Israel’s borders and (b) the US and USSR would neutralize each other in a crisis [Page 708] by wanting to avoid nuclear confrontation. The Israelis want minimal outside involvement in their negotiations.

The Four Powers are the scene of steady pressure to discuss guarantees. The U.S. position for some time has been that the U.S. would be prepared to discuss guarantees only when serious negotiations between the parties were under way. On January 18, the U.S. added the condition (uncleared here) that this discussion would take place if the threat of an early Security Council meeting were removed.4

In short, the pace is being set by Jarring’s plan to report Tuesday and the scheduled meeting of the Four Wednesday.5 Sisco’s scenario, as you know, is for the Four to respond to Jarring’s report by exhorting the parties to serious negotiations, calling for a cease-fire extension and revealing that the Four would discuss guarantees.

Options for Guarantees

The State Department paper with Defense contributions [see tab marked “Guarantees”] examines the role that international guarantees and forces or US assurances might play as an inducement to Israel to give up more territory in a settlement than it now intends. This is thought of as perhaps a margin of difference supplementing an Arab-Israeli agreement in a situation where Israel is faced with a choice between (1) retention of territory without peace and the virtually certain prospect of renewed war and (2) a serious peace agreement involving no major retention of territory.

The precise purpose of international guarantees is the first of the issues discussed later in this summary. The State paper describes the general purposes as:

—committing the major powers to desist from any inducement to the primary signatories of an agreement to break their commitments;

—providing inducements for compliance and deterrents to violation;

—generalizing responsibility for observance of the agreement.

No single guarantee is likely to be persuasive to Israel. A realistic package would have to contain three elements:

1. The various kinds of international guarantees all consist of some kind of association of the international community—particularly the major powers—with the settlement through the UN Security Council [Page 709] (UNSC), probably including a commitment to action if the agreement is broken:

—UNSC endorsement of the terms of a settlement under Chapter VI of the UN Charter. Unanimous Council action would imply that a significant breach of the settlement would lead to international action to rectify the situation. [Chapter VI simply authorizes the UNSC to involve itself and urge resolution of disputes by peaceful means. This is essentially the UNSC’s diplomatic pressure role.]

—UNSC endorsement under Chapter VII. This would simply imply that UNSC action could include sanctions, including the use of military force.

—Four Power commitment to consult. This, comparable to the commitment in connection with the NPT, would simply assure that the major powers would not ignore a violation.

—Four Power commitment to call a UNSC meeting to discuss steps to be taken if there is a breach of settlement.

2. Any of the above would have to be supplemented by arrangements on the ground. Two broad types are theoretically possible: (a) a mission with strictly observer functions; (b) a larger operation combining observer functions with a real military capability. Specifically, these are possible:

Joint observer commissions of the parties with UN liaison. This would be most acceptable to Israel, least acceptable to the Arabs and most feasible as part of a broader arrangement (e.g. at Sharm el-Sheikh, possibly the West Bank.).

UN observer commissions with or without liaison representatives of the parties. The principal weakness would be lack of effective follow-up in event of confirmed violations, as in the past. This is one characteristic Israel has objected to in past UN observer forces. The question of composition raises questions of U.S. and Soviet participation which are dealt with under “issues” in the next section of this summary.

Four Power peacekeeping force. This would combine observer functions with a military capability to prevent attacks across borders, through DMZ’s and at other key points by regular or irregular forces. The advantage would be the four-power commitment to enforcement. A major problem would be Israeli rejection of the stationing of Soviet forces on Israeli borders or territory or U.S. disinterest in introducing Soviet forces into Jordan. This would bring U.S. and Soviet forces face to face.6

UN peacekeeping force would have the same advantages in enforcement capability as the above but without the disadvantages of the [Page 710] Soviet presence. The Israelis would not put much faith in third-country contingents which did not commit the U.S. and it might be difficult to find contingents willing to undertake a potential combat role.

Mixed arrangements. Different arrangements could be used in different areas.

Transitional administrative commission. Constructing some such umbrella might provide an opportunity for Israel to leave forces behind in some areas for a time as public security forces over a period of perhaps five years. Since these would be mainly in the present occupied territories, demilitarization and peacekeeping forces could be kept away from Israeli territory for a time.

3. Unilateral US guarantees and commitments would seem an indispensable part of any package. What Israel will really want to know—especially if the US presses it to accept a settlement that provides less than total security—is what the US will consider its obligation to be if the peace agreements break down. Possible elements in a US commitment are:

—Continued military support. This is easy to contemplate, but there could be a contradiction if and when the US and USSR get down to discussing arms limitation.

Economic support.

Mutual defense treaty. Although the Israelis voice skepticism about the US ability to carry out such a commitment, it is difficult to believe that Israel would thoroughly discount a formally ratified US commitment to hold off the USSR. This might find little support in the US today and would tend to formalize polarization of the Mid-East.

Bilateral defense consultation and planning on a regular basis is something the Israelis have long wanted. This would, for instance, set up a joint aircraft control system in case US carrier aircraft were committed in Israeli skies.

Congressional resolutions would strengthen any US participation in UNSC guarantees or any executive reiteration of US support for Israel.

Issues Raised

Choice among the above schemes raises the following key issues: [The State paper at tab marked “Issues” discusses these issues by raising questions. The arguments below cover essentially the same ground but in declarative statements in pro-con format. The “tentative conclusions” are Saunders’, formulated to give you something to react to.]

1. What should be the function of a peacekeeping force? Should it simply be an observer force, or should it have a combat role using military [Page 711] force to prevent violations? The arguments for and against a force with a military function are:


—This would seem more effective in providing security than an observer force serving a trip-wire function.

—A main argument against UN forces in the past has been that they are powerless observers with no capacity to follow up violations with action that could deter future violations.

—It is possible to differentiate between a major military force and a force with police capability. It is also conceivable that a larger force would be desirable during withdrawal than after. Therefore, an argument for a force with military capability during withdrawal need not be extended to the period after withdrawal. A transitional period of some duration might allow time for a new situation after peace to be consolidated.


—For Israel, the most significant deterrents to Arab breach of the agreement will be Israeli freedom to use their own military forces and assurance that the U.S. would respond to involvement of Soviet forces.

—It is doubtful that any UN force could stop a determined attacker, e.g. a surprise air attack.

—It is doubtful that governments could be found willing to commit forces that could be caught between two superior forces.

—The U.S. would not want to endorse such a role for Soviet forces or be involved (possibly against Israel) in that way itself.

—It seems unlikely that the Israelis would welcome a force most likely to add to Arab military weight (since the Israelis would rely on their own pre-emption rather than the UN force to protect them).

—For Israel, the fact of significant US participation in a real crisis involving the USSR is more important than curbing local threats which they will insist on being in a position to handle.

Some Tentative Conclusions:

—With one possible exception (Golan Heights) it would seem possible to rely on demilitarized buffer zones to keep local forces apart. Observer forces would be sufficient to verify absence of local forces.

—The threat of another war will not come from minor infractions but from major mobilization. In that situation what would be important would be the action to be taken by enforcing powers from outside.

—During withdrawal, some police force would seem necessary for a transitional period.

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2. and 3. Should Soviet forces be involved in a peacekeeping force? Could the US expect straightforward Soviet cooperation in a peacekeeping mission? Would not Soviet participation legitimize permanent Soviet military presence? A Four Power force would require Soviet participation. The arguments for and against Soviet participation are:


—Only the US and USSR have the military capacity to stop the threatened outbreak of hostilities by force.

—If the Israelis trust any outsider at all, it will only be the U.S. If the US is involved, the USSR must be.


—There would be a real possibility of paralysis of the operation through US–USSR differences of view and Soviet veto of even minor decisions.

—Should a crisis arise on which the USSR and US held different views, it could be dangerous to have US and Soviet forces in the field, although this might be minimized by not having those forces next to each other.

—The Israelis would not trust the Soviets and say informally that they do not want either the US or USSR.

—With the achievement of a settlement there would be a good possibility of reduction in the Soviet military role. Participation in a UN force would legitimize this.

Some Tentative Conclusions:

—The dangers and disadvantages of Soviet involvement would seem to outweigh the advantages. This would seem to rule out a Four Power force.

—More important than a permanent peacekeeping force would be some understanding on what international action could be taken in the event of violation that threatened major hostilities.

4. Should the U.S. participate in a UN peacekeeping force?


—If Israel trusts any outsiders at all, the only presence that Israel will regard as of any value is the American. Israel might consider this as useful, not for the peacekeeping force itself, but as an indication of US commitment to act if Israel is threatened.


—If faced with a crisis provoked by the UAR backed by Soviet forces, the US could find itself in an extremely risky situation from which it would be difficult to withdraw.

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—US participation would require Soviet participation, which Israel would oppose.

—Since the force would be guaranteeing Arab borders, the US could end up in open opposition to Israel.

—US domestic support for such involvement would be questionable.

Some tentative conclusions: The disadvantages of US involvement would seem to outweigh the advantages. US assurance to support Israel could be provided in other ways.

5. Can the problem of Israeli objection to UN forces be met? One purpose of guarantees is to induce Israel to withdraw. Yet Israel has no faith in UN forces and is firmly opposed to the demilitarization or stationing of forces on its side of the border. The Arabs insist on demilitarization on both sides of the borders. There is precedent for UN observers and control officers operating in Israel, so some token arrangement might be worked out. There might be a way to avoid the problem altogether by attaching international security forces to the administrative machinery overseeing Israeli withdrawal and allowing it later to assume de facto observer status in evacuated territory.

Some Tentative Overall Conclusions

These are Saunders’ propositions set down solely for the sake of discussion:

1. The most practical point to start from is to discuss arrangements for some sort of police force to operate during the transitional phase from Israeli occupation to withdrawal. A medium-sized police force might over time become a small quasi observer force.

2. Separation of local forces, e.g. by demilitarization of large areas like the Sinai, is the best guarantee against accidental war. If there is a major mobilization, it will take more than a small international force of some kind. It will require major international action, if anything. (1967 is an example. No normal UN force in the Sinai could have stopped the war once Egyptian mobilization reached a point where Israel felt it necessary to attack. Perhaps landing the 82nd Airborne Division might have had an impact.) Therefore, what seems important is not so much the force on the ground—except for minimal observation duties—but how the major powers are committed to act in a crisis.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–051, Senior Review Group Meetings, SRG Meeting—Middle East 1–25–71. Secret; Nodis. All brackets are in the original.
  2. Attached but not printed are the three undated papers prepared by the NSC Interdepartmental Group for Near East Affairs.
  3. On January 23, the Department sent an informational telegram to the Mission to the United Nations outlining a “scenario” that it “envisaged pursuing over the next two weeks or so,” including: 1) keeping the “principal focus on negotiations between the parties”; 2) keeping “pressure on Jarring” to maintain momentum in his talks; 3) “joining in a Four Power announcement” after U Thant issued his report on Jarring’s recent activities; and 4) sending Yost a draft of a Four-Power announcement as well as “guidance regarding position to be taken on guarantees at subsequent meetings.” (Telegram 12157 to USUN, January 23; ibid., Box 1160, Saunders Files, Middle East Negotiations Files, Jarring Talks Edited, January 22–31, 1971)
  4. See footnote 6, Document 193.
  5. The January 27 Four-Power meeting “produced nothing, despite somewhat pro-forma efforts by USSR and France to obtain approval for different communiqués,” according to Yost. (Telegram 240 from USUN, January 28; National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 27–14, ARAB–ISR)
  6. Kissinger placed two checkmarks next to this paragraph.