249. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1
- Letter from Mrs. Meir
The attached letter from Mrs. Meir 2 reiterates interest in a limited interim settlement and restates “grave concern” over the stoppage of Phantom deliveries. On the interim settlement:
—For Israel, the main purposes of an interim agreement are “the strengthening of the cease-fire, the disengagement of forces and the creation of a better atmosphere for further negotiations, looking towards a final peace settlement.”
—She repeats Israel’s positions: unlimited ceasefire; no Egyptian or Soviet military forces across the Canal because it would “negate the concept of disengagement;” no prejudice to final positions in a peace agreement; Israeli ships through the Canal.
On aircraft, she notes the Soviet-Egyptian treaty,3 the flow of Soviet arms and President Sadat’s urging that the US press Israel. She concludes citing the danger that a hiatus in US shipments will weaken Israel’s “deterrent posture” in Soviet and Egyptian eyes.
This letter highlights the issue that will face Secretary Rogers in his efforts at the UN to revive discussion of the interim settlement. Aircraft shipments to Israel have been allowed to lapse on the theory that this might cause the Israelis to modify their position. Informally, the word comes back that there will be no modification until Mrs. Meir and Gen. Dayan are satisfied that aircraft shipments are secured. Even then, of course, modifications would be in keeping with Israel’s view of an interim settlement—that its purpose is to freeze the present situation until the UAR is ready to accept boundary changes.
State Department this week is discussing two general options:
—One would be to allow the hiatus in shipments to go on a while longer. The problem with this is that a time will probably come when the US will be forced by circumstances to resume shipments. The situa[Page 902]tion at that time could be more difficult if we appeared to be backing down in the face of Israeli pressure, military action or diplomatic intransigence.
—The other would be to make a new aircraft commitment now with most deliveries a year or more in the future at the end of present production lines. The details would be adjustable to encourage Israeli responsiveness. The problem with this is that it somewhat reduces the pressure on Israel to modify its position.
Secretary Rogers has not yet reached his own decision. Whichever the tactic, the objective would be to induce just enough change in the Israeli position to revive discussion with Egypt.
The problem with the interim settlement is that too much has been attempted. The initial idea was simply a mutual thinning out on both sides. From that it mushroomed to Sadat insisting on moving his forces to the key Sinai passes. To achieve that, the US would have to press Israel almost as hard as to get an overall settlement.
The main hope now, it would seem to me, would be to reduce Egyptian expectations to a point where changes that might realistically be expected in Israel’s position could produce an understanding. Because official positions are tied to greater expectations, it may be that the only way of achieving this—if it were possible at all—would be through less official exchanges to see what might be possible.
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 756, Presidential Correspondence 1969–1974, Israel Prime Minister Golda Meir. Secret; Nodis; Cedar Plus. Sent for information. A stamped notation on the memorandum indicates the President saw it.↩
- Dated September 17; attached but not printed.↩
- See Document 235.↩