233. Transcript of a Telephone Conversation Between President Nixon and the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

K: Mr. President.

P: Hi Henry, anything new?

K: I just wanted to bring you up to date. All the passengers were off the plane when they blew it up.

P: I got this word earlier.

K: They are holding 40 hostages. 23 with dual citizenship, 6 Swiss, 6 German and 5 British.

P: They are holding the Israelis? Does this include any Americans? Not that it makes any difference. It is still the same thing. Are there people that do claim American citizenship? What about the action on the other side? —In terms of making a deal? What do they want for the hostages?

K: They are demanding that the Swiss release 3 fedayeen, the British the woman, the Germans 3 fedayeen.

P: And from the Israelis?

K: The 23. The 23 in return for an unspecified number of fedayeen. I doubt that the Israelis will agree. Pressure is not so bad on us.

P: No Americans?

K: Some claim that they have dual citizenship. If they have an American fighting in the Israeli army we would have a tough case. Nationalized … We are now trying to determine [citizenship questions].

P: What position are we taking? Problem for Israel to work out.

K: Ideal would be … not releasing prisoners … Germans have caved in. Swiss are willing to hold out.

P: What are the British going to do?

K: Probably will cave. Germans are … Brandt sent someone independently to Amman. He is very weak …

P: Well, released all the Americans. Do you think the Sixth Fleet had anything to do with this.

K: Definitely I do. In terms of time. The Sixth Fleet began to move— first they were hysterical and then they started releasing prisoners.

[Page 666]

P: I still feel that we have ready the contingency plans to go in there … support the King. He is not prepared to do anything. I think it is best for us to go in to support the King.

K: There are quite a few people who do not think it is a good idea. Only for evacuation purposes would be best for us to go in. Sisco feels that the King would not stand after we left if we went in and then pulled out.

P: Israel go in?

K: Yes. Israelis go in. If there is a war…

P: I guess it is pretty much up to the Israelis now.

K: If it comes out this way.

P: What do we say or do if anything about these planes being blown up?

K: We should get a plan started to start boycotting countries where planes are taken.

P: Of course, in the future …

K: … encourage King to move against Fedayeen. Helms

P: Is he doing that? We want to do that. I am not concerned about the long occupation. … I still think it is better for us to go in and support the King.

K: It would strap us militarily. Use all our available military reserve. The JCS is not anxious to do this.

P: Well, that is all right. Evacuation is nothing.

K: This is not the problem anyway.

P: Problem is how we handle the Fedayeen. We cannot just let them go. Do we have anything to do about the Fedayeen.

K: We can urge Hussain to move against Fedayeen and we would militarily support it—with air support.

P: That is what I want to do. If the Israelis did it the ceasefire would go out the window. [Talking about the psychological impact. People thought Israelis bad after 6 Day war and now the Israelis were beginning to get sympathy again because of the Egyptian/Soviet violations of the ceasefire. Now people are siding with Israelis and are sympathetic to them.] Now feel that the Arabs are bad—if the Israelis went in the issue would become very confused.

K: Ideal would be if the King could clean up the Fedayeen with our air support.

P: With our help.

K: We have a brigade in Europe that we have put on maneuvers. The 82nd from the US to follow behind it.

P: Do not know what the Israelis are going to do?

[Page 667]

K: Most of the Americans out. Otherwise it is between . . . problem for Fedayeen because Israelis may move. Ideal for them would have been . . .

P: I am surprised. What does Sisco think it had to do with it? (Sixth Fleet move) Haig?

K: General Haig reached the exact same conclusion I did quite independently—that the Sixth Fleet had a tremendous impact on the releasing of prisoners.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Kissinger Telephone Conversations, Box 30, Chronological Files. No classification marking. All brackets are in the original.