308. Transcript of a Telephone Conversation Between the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) and the Israeli Ambassador (Rabin)1

K: There is a point of clarification I want to raise with you. What did you tell Sisco this afternoon2 about the alternate plan we mentioned to you this afternoon, the alternate courses of operations?3

R: He raised the question. He said they estimated that Jordan didn’t want ground operations in Jordan and he asked about the possibility of carrying out diversionary action in Syria. He asked my opinion. I made it very clear that diversionary operations cannot achieve anything unless the purpose is to eliminate the forces in Jordan.

K: I want to get one thing clear. Did I understand you correctly when we talked this afternoon that if a major operation was carried out in Syria, from a military point of view this was a feasible operation? You and I have to be meticulous in our understandings for this reason. What you tell me I report to the President. When another version is reported, my version must be the correct one. Otherwise there is no sense in my talking to you. I reported my understanding of the conversation this afternoon—from a purely military point of view you expressed the thought that this might be an effective and probably the effective way of doing it.

R: Exactly.

K: We were told this evening that it was your judgment that from a military point of view it was not feasible.4

R: This time it is recorded. He talked about diversionary tactics. I went into detail and explained to him. I said to him you don’t have diversionary…

K: You don’t have to explain any more than that.

R: It is unbelievable.

K: The only essential thing is that any time you deviate, even in the slightest—which you didn’t do … I want to know when I say in a meeting “It is my belief that this is the Israeli point of view,” I want to be exactly right.

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R: I didn’t deviate. He doesn’t understand the difference between diversionary and military (?) actions.

K: I understand, Mr. Ambassador, Yes he does, but I understand.

R: It’s really unbelievable.

K: I’ll straighten it out. You should be getting your answers this evening. But when you get them, check them with me, will you?

R: When I asked Joe “If the Jordanians don’t want ground operations in Jordan is it your estimate or have you information? …” He said “we don’t have information; it’s just our estimate.”

K: He didn’t give you the note to Allon?

R: He gave me the note but without the part about the Jordanians preferring not to have it on their own grounds. Since he started to talk about diversionary…

K: It is perfectly plain to me.

R: I said “what do you mean by diversionary?”

K: I understand.

R: I said nonsense. They have decided to move that force because they have a reason to do so. They are willing to take the risk. I don’t believe in diversionary.

K: I fully understand.

R: There were at least two people on their part and one on our part, and he came to me and said…

K: But they were not at the meeting with the President.

R: It becomes something that’s impossible to work.

K: It will be straightened out.

R: I tried to find out to Haig after I came back. I wanted to explain the concept of diversion.

K: You should have done that.

R: I couldn’t reach him.

K: Then you should have left word.

R: I did and was told he would call me back.

K: It doesn’t matter; no one is blaming you. Relax Mr. Ambassador. We will be back to you tonight.

R: Very strange. I didn’t write it down—someone else did.

K: We’ll confuse everybody if we keep this up. Someone has just come in. Goodbye. [The President had walked into Mr. Kissinger’s office with Mr. Haldeman.]

7:20 p.m. [After the President left Mr. Kissinger’s office.]

K: The President wants, on an urgent basis, the assessment of your government of the plan of a major attack in that region and on a diversionary attack.

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R: Fine.

K: On your seven questions, it would make the second irrelevant. Isn’t that true?

R: I don’t understand.

K: Because you have been asked for air, and you would now have to be asked for ground under these conditions. Your second question is whether the Jordanian government will ask you.

R: I would have to send it back to my country, to my government.

K: Of course, you are being asked by the President to produce it. Tonight you will get the answers to the seven questions.5 Most of them will be unambiguously positive; the ones that are not are not because of us. I will get you the answers.

R: When?

K: Well, you aren’t the only one who has to deal with Sisco. It will be within an hour or so.

R: All right. Otherwise it would not be practical to put the first one.

K: Okay. I’ll get the answers to you. But keep in mind some of the advice I gave you this afternoon—about cleverness.

R: Okay.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Kissinger Telephone Conversations, Box 30, Chronological Files. No classification marking. All brackets are in the original.
  2. See Document 307.
  3. Presumably a reference to their conversation of 10:25, see Document 301.
  4. See Document 307.
  5. See Document 311.