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228. Letter From President Nixon to Israeli Prime Minister Meir1

Dear Madame Prime Minister:

Since the attack on your forces on October 6, we have worked tirelessly for an end to the fighting and bloodshed on terms that would enable you and your neighbors to make a new beginning towards peace.

Today, we have concluded discussions with the Soviet Union, the results of which I want to communicate to you urgently for the concurrence and support of your Government.2

Secretary Kissinger whom I sent to Moscow in response to an urgent Soviet request, has reached agreement with Mr. Brezhnev on a resolution which we and the Soviets would plan to introduce this evening in the Security Council. This resolution has only three operative paragraphs and nothing else which: (a) calls for an immediate ceasefire in place, the ceasefire to come into effect no later than 12 hours after the Security Council decision has been taken; (b) a second paragraph makes a general call upon the parties to implement Security Council Resolution 242 in all of its parts after the ceasefire; and (c) it is linked to a third paragraph which calls for negotiations between the parties concerned under appropriate auspices aimed at establishing a just and durable peace in the Middle East. In addition, the Soviets have agreed to join us in strongly urging an immediate exchange of prisoners of war.

Madame Prime Minister, we believe that this is a major achievement for you and for us and supportive of the brave fighting of your forces. It would leave your forces right where they are: There is absolutely no mention whatsoever of the word “withdrawal” in the resolution; third, for the first time, we have achieved the agreement of the So[Page 649]viet Union to a resolution that calls for direct negotiation without conditions or qualifications between the parties under appropriate auspices. At the same time we and the Soviets have agreed privately to make our joint auspices available to you and to the Arabs to facilitate this process, if this is agreeable to the parties.

I wish there had been time for fuller consultations but with the bloodshed continuing, with Israel in such a favorable position on the ground, with the risks increasing by the hour as substantial supplies are being poured in by both major powers, we felt it was imperative that an understanding be reached promptly.

We are planning to ask Ambassador Scali to call for a meeting of the Security Council at 9:00 p.m. this evening. The Soviet Union will join us in this request as well as in the submission of the resolution.

Finally, Madame Prime Minister, I want to say a word about the Arab reaction. We do not know whether this proposal will be accepted by the other side because among other things it is a far distance indeed from the five-point Sadat program announced the other day.3

I hope, therefore, that you and your colleagues will reply promptly to this message and that we have your full support in this matter.4

With my best wishes,

Sincerely,

Richard Nixon
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 136, Country Files, Middle East, Dinitz, June 4–October 31, 1973. No classification marking. A handwritten notation reads: “Hand delivered to Amb. Dinitz, 11:00 a.m., 10/22/73.
  2. The text of the letter was transmitted by Kissinger to Scowcroft in telegram Hakto 10/13147 from Moscow, October 21. Kissinger instructed Scowcroft when presenting the President’s letter to Dinitz, to make the following points orally from him personally. The resolution achieved what the Israelis had sought for 25 years—direct negotiations with the Arabs without preconditions. It made no reference to Israeli withdrawal and left Israeli forces in place in their present positions in Egypt and Syria. Reference to Resolution 242 was minimal. Agreement that “appropriate auspices” meant U.S.–Soviet auspices guarded against the risk that outsiders would be injected into the negotiating process. The Soviets had also agreed to work for a POW exchange. The Secretary stressed that it was essential that Israel express unqualified support for the resolution. (Ibid., Box 39, Kissinger Trip Files, HAK Trip—Moscow, Tel Aviv, London, HAKTO, SECTO, TOSEC, Misc., Oct. 20–23, 1973)
  3. See footnote 3, Document 190.
  4. Telegram Tohak 70, October 22, 0338Z, informed Kissinger that Israel had accepted the resolution, but needed clarification on a number of questions. Tohak 68, October 22, 0316Z, informed Kissinger that Meir asked that he stop in Israel on his way home from Moscow. In Secto 21 from Moscow, October 22, Kissinger informed the Embassy in Tel Aviv he would briefly visit Israel. (Respectively, National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 39, Kissinger Trip Files, HAK Trip—Moscow, Tel Aviv, London, HAKTO, SECTO, TOSEC, Misc., October 20–23, 1973; ibid., Box 722, Country Files, Europe, USSR, Vol. XXIV; and ibid., Box 610, Country Files, Middle East, Israel, Vol. 12, March–October 1973)