199. Minutes of a Senior Review Group Meeting1


  • Middle East


  • Chairman—Henry A. Kissinger
  • State
  • John N. Irwin
  • Joseph J. Sisco
  • Alfred L. Atherton
  • Thomas Thornton
  • Defense
  • David Packard
  • G. Warren Nutter
  • James S. Noyes
  • CIA
  • Richard Helms
  • David H. Blee
  • JCS
  • Lt. Gen. Richard Knowles
  • Adm. William St. George
  • NSC Staff
  • Harold Saunders
  • Jeanne W. Davis


It was agreed that:

—the Defense Department should proceed with its paper on defense production schedules;2

—the State Department would prepare by Monday, February 1 a paper on possible courses of action if the Jarring talks deadlock,3 and the SRG will meet to discuss it on Wednesday or Thursday, February 3 or 4.

Mr. Kissinger: I thought we might get together to let Joe (Sisco) tell us where we stand.

[Page 715]

Mr. Sisco: The negotiating procedure has perhaps begun with the submission of individual papers by Israel, Egypt and Jordan.4 The Israeli paper is substantive and related to elements of the Security Council resolution. The Egyptian paper is substantive also, but surrounded by polemics in its first version. Jarring had the Egyptians reshape their paper before giving it to the Israelis. Israel is expected to put something further forward tomorrow.5 Our objective now is to get Jarring to submit a brief report indicating a certain amount of progress. Hopefully, he can engage the parties in the next stage, preferably at the Foreign Minister level, but we think this is doubtful. Also, we would like to see the cease-fire extended. We have preferred a formal extension, with statements by both sides, hopefully for three months. Our choices, however, may be a formal extension of the ceasefire of a shorter duration as against a de facto extension wherein neither side resumes the shooting. Both Israeli and Egypt have agreed there should be no resumption of the fighting. We may be better off with a de facto extension, without a deadline. This would avoid the recreation of a crisis every few weeks.

Mr. Kissinger: Which do you prefer?

Mr. Sisco: Our preference has been for the formal, three-month extension as being most satisfactory to both sides and creating the most stable situation since both sides would be on record. But, if the formal extension can only be achieved for a shorter period—one month, for example—the de facto ceasefire might be better. We have to play it by ear for the moment.

Regarding the papers that have been prepared for this meeting,6 we believe the Four Powers should now begin to examine the question of international guarantees. We have indicated informally to the Israelis that we consider this a likely development and have asked infor [Page 716] mally for their reaction. We haven’t presented a U.S. position, as such. We believe that if we can talk about guarantees as supplemental to an actual agreement—not as a substitute for negotiations but as a corollary—this would introduce a greater degree of flexibility into the negotiating process. Our principal problem is with the Israelis. We haven’t made any decision in favor of any peacekeeping machinery. There has always been opposition to international guarantees in lieu of a binding peace agreement, but in this case the guarantees would be additive and supplementary.

Mr. Kissinger: What do you mean by a binding peace agreement?

Mr. Sisco: That is a euphemistic expression used instead of “peace treaty” in deference to Arab views. We still need to have a further chat with the Israelis.

Mr. Kissinger: Before the Four Power meeting?

Mr. Sisco: Yes, I hope to do it tomorrow. If we can approach the subject in the Four Power meeting7 by sketching out the options for consideration by the two parties, we will be less apt to get a strong negative reaction from the Israelis. They will have reservations, of course, but if our objective is to develop options for the negotiators to consider, it might be okay. We would stress that the judgment of the Four Powers would not be conclusive.

Mr. Kissinger: How can the judgment of the Four Powers be anything other than conclusive if one of the parties accepts it?

Mr. Sisco: That depends on what the Four Power paper8 says. We would take the position that the principal element of guarantee is a [Page 717] binding peace agreement. Political endorsement by the Four Powers in the Security Council should be considered by the parties as additive. The parties should consider some practical security arrangements to help keep the agreement. Here are some alternative possibilities. We should not conclude that a Four-Power peacekeeping force is the way to do it. We would put down a series of alternatives for presentation to Jarring by the Four Powers for consideration by the parties. They would be a series of options, not a conclusive judgment. To answer Henry’s question, I think it is possible to have an expression of views by the Four Powers without indicating a conclusive judgment.

Mr. Kissinger: On the assumption that some peacekeeping force will be required, we will be giving them some possible alternatives. Suppose the Egyptians say they want a UN third-country force and the Israelis say they don’t want any. What do we do then? When would we go to the Four Powers?

Mr. Sisco: We should consult Israel and await their reaction. We could go into the Four Powers near the end of the month.

Mr. Kissinger: That means before the end of the week. Would you go to the Israelis tomorrow and give them 48 hours to react?

Mr. Sisco: I’d give them a few days. The next Four Power meeting is Wednesday and we can temporize in that meeting. There will be another meeting roughly a week hence.

Can we look at the headings of the Guarantees paper. On page 4, Section III, the Four Powers would set down various alternatives. On page 10 is one alternative that Israeli would probably buy—joint Observer Commissions of the parties with UN liaison. This is one of a half-dozen options, and we would leave it to the parties to argue them out.

Mr. Kissinger: It would make a difference what the forces are supposed to be controlling. If they are to support a settlement with no demilitarized zones there would be one set of problems. If there are demilitarized zones there is an entirely different set of problems.

Mr. Sisco: The options must be options that the parties will consider. Demilitarized zones are a key question.

Mr. Kissinger: Are we for or against demilitarized zones?

Mr. Sisco: In favor. We voted for them in the November 1967 SC resolution. We reaffirmed this in the Secretary’s and the President’s statements of October and December 1969.9 We have always held, however, that the location of the zones would have to be approved by the parties. The Four Powers would be presenting possible alternative [Page 718] ways to police the demilitarized zones which had been approved by the parties.

Mr. Kissinger: But it’s just not going to go that way. Everyone knows that the parties will deadlock—that they won’t reach a settlement and won’t come to any conclusions. In these circumstances, the Four Powers will be under increasing pressure to be more specific. I have been trying to get this group to address the real issues—to think about where we want to come out and develop a strategy.

Mr. Packard: I agree.

Mr. Kissinger: This discussion will get us through the next week. But, for example, suppose Egypt agrees to demilitarize all of Sinai—or suppose there are fairly large demilitarized zones only on the Arab side. Sinai would be a fairly simple case. You wouldn’t need a large force and probably wouldn’t want Four Power involvement. All they would need was to make sure there was no mobilization. On the West Bank the problem would be more difficult because of the fedayeen. If there were demilitarized zones on both sides, assuming Israel would accept this, there would be a difficult problem of supervision. It is very hard to separate the question of guarantees from the nature of the settlement.

Mr. Sisco: You have just made an eloquent plea for the kind of paper that is before you. We have done a series of alternatives based on the likely situations, but they will have to be negotiated by the parties. If they can agree on a settlement, the nature of the agreement will probably make one of the six options more feasible than the others.

Mr. Kissinger: If the parties can agree, this is a piece of cake.

Mr. Sisco: We don’t think the Four Powers can make any conclusive judgments. Israel won’t buy it. In order to leave Israel and the Arabs with maximum flexibility, the most we can do is present the range of alternative arrangements for the parties to consider.

Mr. Packard: How useful is it to talk about guarantees except to keep the talks going?

Mr. Irwin: That is the reason for doing it.

Mr. Sisco: I agree. At some stage the negotiations will reach an impasse. This paper is intended to keep the talks going. The next paper we do will deal with what to do if the talks deadlock: 1) disengage; 2) try to implement a Four Power consensus; or 3) decide to go on our own with a new U.S. initiative. We will do that paper, but the immediate task is to keep the talks alive. We have to begin talking about guarantees in the Four Powers in a way which will not prejudge the options if we reach an impasse.

Mr. Packard: That is most important—to keep the talks going but not to foreclose the options.

[Page 719]

Mr. Helms: We don’t know if a Four-Power imposed settlement is the only solution if the talks deadlock. Shouldn’t we start addressing the question of what a settlement might actually be?

Mr. Kissinger: This is the point I made at the last meeting.10 We need a general strategy paper telling us where we think we’re going so the President can look at it. Are there any arguments against that?

Mr. Sisco: I have no argument against it. A paper of this kind is sensible and we are prepared to do it and focus exclusively on it at the next meeting.

Mr. Kissinger: Suppose Israel rejects violently any discussion of guarantees by the Four Powers on the grounds that they won’t permit the Four to prejudge the negotiations. Would we go ahead anyway?

Mr. Sisco: There will be some measure of disagreement by Israel, but it is likely we would have to go ahead. We would measure the Israeli reaction before making a judgment.

Mr. Packard: It would help if we had a better idea where we want to end up. We would have a better chance of figuring out how to get there.

Mr. Kissinger: Are we proceeding on the assumption that we want to get the Israeli aid request disposed of so as not to be faced with this problem during 1972? We should be shooting for July 1, 1971.

Mr. Irwin: The only question is that of defense production schedules.

Mr. Packard: We may have to make a tentative decision on the A–4s. The simplest thing to do would be to permit the Israelis to talk to McDonnell-Douglas on contract details. Alternatively, we might approve a small number, say 16, predicated on keeping the production line going. Or, we could put in an order, estimating what Israel needs, with the understanding that they would have to forego other toys.

Mr. Kissinger: (to Packard) Let’s do a paper on how to keep this option going.

Mr. Saunders: Defense is doing that.

Mr. Sisco: The Israelis have asked Dave (Packard) and me to keep the options open.

Mr. Kissinger: Unilateral American steps would be the most favorable to Israel and these may be the only guarantees Israel is interested in. While there is some advantage in vagueness in the Four Power talks, we should know where we’re going.

Mr. Irwin: This is sensible.

(5:45 p.m.—Mr. Irwin left the meeting)

[Page 720]

Mr. Kissinger: Are there any guarantees not indicated in the paper that should be there? What do we tell the Israelis?

Mr. Sisco: That our overall objective is the same as theirs: to encourage negotiations and to do nothing which would divert from the negotiations. We feel the kind of discussion in the Four Powers we have in mind would be helpful to Jarring in the negotiating context. We would make it clear that we don’t see it as very useful unless serious talks are in progress and the ceasefire is maintained. Four Power discussion must not be substituted for the negotiating process.

Mr. Kissinger: Will Israel take this?

Mr. Sisco: No, we will have problems. They will be concerned by the possibility of conclusive judgments by the Four Powers or by substitution of the Four for the negotiations. We are trying for a middle ground between the Israeli position of no major power involvement at all and the Arab position of total major power involvement to the exclusion of negotiations. We are trying to carry water on both shoulders and I would welcome any ideas.

Mr. Kissinger: There is no good alternative now. We will schedule a meeting next week on a strategy and the basic issues.

Mr. Sisco: Let’s not set a meeting date until we have had the paper in hand for several days.

Mr. Kissinger: Give me a definite date for the paper.

Mr. Sisco: You will have the paper by Monday noon.11

Mr. Kissinger: All right; we won’t schedule a meeting before Wednesday.

Mr. Packard: Let’s give more thought to the specific outcome we want to see.

Mr. Sisco: That will be part of this paper.

Mr. Kissinger: The paper will be here Monday and we will meet again on Wednesday or Thursday. We all recognize that these decisions are really fundamental and are some of the most important the President will face.

  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; Nodis. The meeting was held in the White House Situation Room.
  2. The paper was discussed at the next Senior Review Group meeting, held on February 8; see Document 204.
  3. For an analytical summary, see Document 202.
  4. For the Israeli paper, “Essentials of Peace,” see footnote 5, Document 195. The United Arab Republic’s paper, a response to Israel’s, is in telegram 121 from USUN, January 15. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1159, Saunders Files, Middle East Negotiations Files, Middle East—Jarring Talks Edited) The text of the Jordanian paper, also a response to Israel’s, in telegram 156 from USUN, January 19, was delivered to Jarring on January 18. (Ibid.)
  5. On January 27, Israel replied to the United Arab Republic’s paper, which Jarring had conveyed on the latter’s behalf on January 18. The text of the reply is in telegram 237 from USUN, January 27. Israel addressed the points raised by the United Arab Republic in its paper, while commenting that it expected the United Arab Republic to address “at an early stage” the points from the original Israeli paper to which it did not refer. It dealt in various ways with such phrases as “peace in the area,” “respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every state in the area,” and the “termination of all claims of belligerency,” and concluded by taking umbrage with the use of the terms “Israeli aggression” and “policies of territorial expansion.” (Ibid., Box 1160, Saunders Files, Middle East Negotiations Files, Middle East—Jarring Talks Edited)
  6. Summarized in Document 198.
  7. See footnote 5, Document 198.
  8. U.S., Soviet, and French draft public statements were discussed at the February 4 Four-Power meeting, but, because the four Representatives could not reach a compromise, they decided not to make any statement at all. According to Yost’s report on the meeting, the Soviet and French Representatives viewed the U.S. draft as “unacceptable” since it did not allow for a more active Four-Power role in negotiations. Yost had said that the United States preferred not to make a statement in the first place but could agree to a “nonsubstantive endorsement” of U Thant’s February 2 appeal to the parties to continue indirect negotiations under the auspices of Jarring. In deference to the United States, Crowe did not take a position on the differing drafts, nor did he submit a British version. (Telegram 361 from USUN, February 5; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1158, Saunders Files, Middle East Negotiations Files, Middle East—Jarring Talks Edited) On February 2, just before the expiration of the cease-fire, U Thant issued a statement that commented on Jarring’s activities since Jarring’s report to the Secretary-General on January 4 and urged the parties to continue the indirect talks: “While recognizing that the resumed discussions are still at an early stage and that much further clarification is required, I find grounds for cautious optimism in the fact that the parties have resumed the talks through Amb Jarring in a serious manner and that there has been some progress in the definition of their positions. Furthermore, the parties, who have already indicated their willingness to carry out Res 242 (1967), are now describing in greater detail their view of their obligations under that resolution.” (Telegram 311 from USUN, February 2; ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 27–14 ARAB–ISR)
  9. See Documents 58 and 78.
  10. See Document 195.
  11. February 1.