159. Transcript of Telephone Conversation Between President Nixon and Secretary of State Kissinger1
K: Mr. President.
P: The morning report.
K: Mr. President, I was just checking ours and just talking to the Israelis to find out what was going on. The Israelis are still advancing into Syria, although they are now getting heavy counter-attacks and the Iraqi armor division is beginning to fight them.
P: The thing we have here from CIA indicates that it was pretty tough up there in the Golan Heights and that sort of thing. So apparently they are having a pretty good fight up there.
K: That’s right. But they claim to be advancing and they claim to be reaching their objective. Of course it is obvious that all the fighting is tougher for the Israelis than it has ever been before.
P: Of course.
K: We had a call from Heath yesterday,2 transferring a request from Jordan which we received already directly that if he is forced to move an armored unit into Syria, whether he could get an assurance from the Israelis that they wouldn’t attack him.
P: From Jordan?
K: That was a hell of a question to ask.
P: Of course they’ll attack.
K: Well, I asked, I put it to the Israelis and they said they are not trying to add to the divisions facing them from Syria, but they’re not looking for an excuse to attack Jordan.3
P: No, they don’t want to fight another country. Well, it’s really going on, isn’t it?
K: Oh, yeah, we’ve had an appeal from Sadat to prevent Israeli attacks on civilian targets and we’re sending a reply back saying we’ve [Page 445]made that appeal to the Israelis.4 Then we’ve had an appeal from King Hussein. Today diplomacy is going to begin moving. I’m seeing the press at noon, to see whether they can put up a simple cease-fire.5
P: With the idea that the Soviets really would abstain?
K: That’s right. That would still pass it.
P: The Soviets certainly wouldn’t, unless the Chinese . . . But the Soviets why would they abstain from such a thing? I mean . . .
K: Well, they just, because right now there’s a sort of a balance in the sense that the Israelis gained in Syria and lost in Egypt.
P: Although they haven’t gained in Syria quite as much as we’d hoped apparently.
K: I can’t get a clear report of that.
P: Now what about our own activities with regard to resupply, etc. Has anything gone forward in that respect?
K: Well, last night we finally told Schlesinger just to charter some of these civilian air lines, airplanes from civilian air lines for the Defense Department and then turn them over to the Israelis.
K: We’ve tried everything else and these civilian airlines just wouldn’t charter to the Israelis directly.
P: That’s alright.
K: So that’s going to start moving later today.
P: But they have not yet actually run short of equipment?
K: No. And of course the most important assurance you gave them was that you’d replace the equipment.
P: The planes and tanks, right?
K: Right. So that they can expend what they’ve got, knowing they’ll get more.
P: The lines that be, it seems to me, if you’re . . . simply that we’re not going to discuss what’s going to be done, but the President has always said that it is essential to maintain the balance of power in that area.
K: I’m giving a press conference today.
P: But maintaining the balance of power, do you think that’s too provocative?
K: No, we’ve always said that we . . .
P: That’s what I mean. That’s a signal to the Israelis, etc.[Page 446]
K: I’m giving a press conference today. I’ve got to navigate that one.
P: Yeah. Well, there’s no more to be done. Of course I don’t know anybody that’s got a better idea as to what we’re doing.
K: There’s nothing else to be done, Mr. President. After all . . .
P: In terms of intervention, that’s out of the question.
P: In terms of massive open support for Israel, that will just bring massive open support by the Russians.
K: And it wouldn’t change the situation in the next two or three days, which is what we’re talking about.
P: . . . the Israelis are not looking at two or three days. That’s our problem, isn’t it? They may be looking at two or three weeks before they can really start clobbering these people.
K: In two or three weeks the international pressures will become unmanageable.
P: I see. Well then, if it’s two or three days then the Israelis have just got to win something on the Syrian front. Right?
K: That’s right.
P: That’s the point.
K: That’s exactly it.
P: Do the Israelis know that the international pressure will become impossible?
K: Well, you know, they keep telling us to take care of them but that’s great for them.
P: That’s right. No way. Well, anyway, good luck. Call me back.
K: I’ll call you back.
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Kissinger Telephone Conversations, Transcripts (Telcons), Chronological File, Box 23. No classification marking.↩
- See footnote 2, Document 157.↩
- See footnote 2, Document 158. In an 8:35 a.m. telephone conversation that morning, Dinitz told Kissinger that the answer was no on the “Jordanian thing.” The Secretary asked if that meant that Israel would attack Jordan, to which Dinitz responded no; it just meant that Israel was advising Jordan not to move the unit. (Ibid.) Printed in Kissinger, Crisis, pp. 194–195.↩
- See Document 160 and footnote 2 thereto.↩
- For a report of Kissinger’s October 12 press conference, see The New York Times, October 13, 1973.↩