283. Transcript of a Telephone Conversation Among the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger), the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Sisco), and the Israeli Ambassador (Rabin)1

K: Mr. Ambassador, I have Joe Sisco here too. I just wanted to pass on some information to you. We have just got a request from the Jordanians via the British which requests an Israeli air strike on Syrian troops which allegedly have taken Irbid and are heading south and massing.2

R: I understand what was requested. I understand against whom. I didn’t understand which area.

K: They have taken the town in the area of Irbid and there are Syrian troops massing there and heading south.

R: Heading south of Irbid?

K: Yes this is the request we want to pass on to you. We have no independent information of our own and we wanted to ask you whether it would be possible for you on an urgent basis to undertake some reconnaissance to confirm this and then just get in touch with us.

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R: Fine. I can assess when it comes to the reconnaissance. I don’t see any problem. I just got a cable from our people talking about 200 Syrian tanks in the area of Irbid. The main thrust was against Irbid about 8 hours ago. According to what I got here they haven’t yet reached Irbid but they were heading towards Irbid. That is what I got from Israel I think at about 4:00 o’clock there. I understand exactly what you ask us.

K: And could you do it on the most urgent basis?

R: First I will go to the Prime Minister here. She leaves tonight.

Sisco: When will she be back in Israel?

R: I think it will be evening there tomorrow.

Sisco: You will bear in mind that we got this from the British because our Embassy was out of touch with the King so the King asked the British to pass the request to you and the British in turn have asked us to pass the request to you. You ought to know another thing, namely that this request according to the British came first this morning to them and then it was reconfirmed again at 1830 Jordan time this evening.

R: Do you look favorably to this request? What is your position?

S: I think we want to exchange views with you on this as soon as you are able to give us a picture of how serious you think the situation is there.

R: It looks to be quite serious after I got the cable about 200 tanks and forces—quite a sizable force—if it is true and I sent a cable back and asked for more information, but now I will send another one. But I am sure that the first question that the Prime Minister will ask me … that the Government will ask.

(A copy of a cable was brought into Mr. Kissinger’s office.)3

S: Wait a minute—we have just got something else.

K: You had better call us back in 10 minutes. Can you do that?

R: Yes.

S: Because we have a further message here that requires a further exchange with you.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Kissinger Telephone Conversations, Box 30, Chronological Files. No classification marking. Kissinger and Sisco were in Washington; Rabin was in New York with Prime Minister Meir.
  2. See Document 279.
  3. Presumably telegram 4988, Document 284.