76. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1


  • Whether to Present a Jordan Paper in Four Power Talks

I sent to you before last Wednesday’s NSC meeting Secretary Rogers’ memo proposing a strategy in the Four Power talks (attached).2 This is essentially what you heard Assistant Secretary Sisco describe at the NSC. It was agreed there that you should have a close look at it before we go ahead.

The Secretary proposes that our prime objective be “as much improvement as possible in our overall position and image in the area against the contingency that the Four Power talks reach an impasse and we conclude it is desirable to disengage.” To accomplish that, he proposes that we:

1. Stick to our present negotiating position—that outsiders should concentrate on developing a framework within which the belligerents can get together to negotiate and not try to spell out the details of a settlement.

2. Advance in the Four Power talks a document on a Jordan-Israel settlement parallel to the document on a UAR-Israel settlement that Sisco and Dobrynin have been discussing.3

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3. After playing out this line, if it does not achieve consensus on our terms, disengage from the Four Power talks and seek another device for carrying forward the settlement effort.

The Presidential issue here is not the details of the document we would put forward such as where the border should be (though these are included with the Secretary’s memo). It is not clear whether the Arabs agree that this would constitute a fair basis for negotiation. Their judgment will depend in large part whether we are going to press Israel to accept it and whether we are going to go on delivering military assistance if Israel refuses.

The key issue, thus, is not how to handle negotiations but whether to squeeze Israel. If we are willing to do so I see two courses of action:

1. Condition our future military and economic assistance to Israel on their acceptance of our position. This could be put positively as a promise of future support over a period of five years or so rather than as a threat. But whatever form the condition takes, the best situation would be one in which we are dealing exclusively with Israel on the basis of our position, not one diluted by the French, British or Soviets who have nothing to contribute. If we bear the burden, we might as well take whatever credit might come from success.

2. Offer a package deal to the USSR through which we would agree to press Israel provided Moscow either delivered Egyptian agreement on our proposals or provided significant help on Vietnam.

If you are prepared to impose a settlement on Israel, I lean toward the first course. The Israelis have asked us for massive aid. I shall have for you within a week a thorough analysis of the implications of the Israeli requests.4

Once this issue is understood, the rest is tactics. I would be inclined to let Ambassador Yost play out the present course, but after that State should be prohibited from taking any new initiatives.5 If we are willing to impose a settlement, we do not need the Soviets’ pressures on the Jordanian side. If we are unwilling, negotiations will only isolate us.

However, we should recognize: (1) we are leading into a confrontation with Israel; the Jewish community reaction already to Secretary Rogers’ speech is just an indication of what may come; (2) if Israel were to conclude it is cut off from its only remaining source of major outside support, the likelihood that it will strike again to topple Nasser will increase.

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That you authorize advancing this document on a Jordan-Israel settlement, but prohibit any other Middle East initiatives until we have carefully reviewed the courses of action open to us on the fundamental question of our handling of Israel.6

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL–178, Geopolitical File, ME, Chronological File. Secret; Nodis. Sent for action.
  2. Dated December 9; attached but not printed. The NSC meeting was held December 10. See Document 74.
  3. See Documents 58 and 61.
  4. See Document 79.
  5. Yost introduced the U.S. proposal for a Jordan-Israel settlement at the Four-Power meeting the following day, December 18. See Document 78. Rogers sent the proposal to Nixon attached to his November 16 memorandum, Document 67.
  6. Nixon approved the recommendation on December 23.