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232. Memorandum of Conversation1

PARTICIPANTS

  • Golda Meir, Prime Minister of Israel
  • Yigal Allon, Deputy Prime Minister
  • Abba Eban, Foreign Minister
  • Moshe Dayan, Defense Minister
  • Mordechai Gazit, Director of the Prime Minister’s Office
  • Yitzhak Rabin, Former Ambassador to the United States
  • Ephraim Evron, Director General, Foreign Ministry
  • Avraham Kidron, Deputy Director General, Foreign Ministry
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State
  • Ambassador Kenneth Keating, US Ambassador to Israel
  • Joseph Sisco, Assistant Secretary of State for Near East and South Asian Affairs
  • Ambassador Robert McCloskey
  • Alfred L. Atherton, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State
  • Winston Lord, Director, Planning and Coordination Staff, State Department
  • Lawrence S. Eagleburger, Executive Assistant to the Secretary
  • Peter W. Rodman, NSC Staff

Following are substantive excerpts of the luncheon conversation.

Dayan: We received information that Sadat is willing to stop firing at 6 p.m. our time. And he asks whether Israel is doing the same.

Kissinger: We have a message, which I meant to tell the Prime Minister: They want an official statement from you.2 But you make it. It’s not for us to be the intermediary.

Allon: Didn’t we make an official statement?

Dayan: I issued an order that we will stop if we hear a formal announcement from them and practical steps to do it. We’ve informed our forces of that.

Kissinger: Should we notify someone?

Rabin: What about Syria?

Kissinger: We have an official communication which we’ve been asked to transmit to you.

Eban: Our transmission to them.

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Kissinger: Why don’t we tell them we’ve received communications from you and you’re prepared to issue similar orders provided they do so?

Keating: The Iraqis haven’t agreed and the Syrians haven’t.

Eban: Nobel made his money out of high explosives and the prize was his conscience money. It is like cigarette manufacturers subsidizing cancer research.

Dayan: There is no difference between Egypt and Israeli time, so it means 1700 hours, or 11 hours from the Security Council resolution. So what should we do? I’d not like to stop.

Kissinger: That’s in your domestic jurisdiction.

Dayan: And it’s only Egypt. We have nothing from Syria.

Kissinger: I’ll be on an airplane. Just say you’ll stop at 1800, provided they do. What we’re communicating to the Russians is that we’ve been informed you’ll stop at 1800 provided they stop. We’re responding to the Russians and Egyptians, to two messages. I told the Prime Minister about them.

Madame Prime Minister, I have told you more information than my present colleagues used to get.

Prime Minister: We’re subsidizing the Russians—by paying more for our grain.

Eban: I see Meany3 made a nasty statement about détente.

Kissinger: That’s not too smart. Well, it’s all right for him to say it. I don’t think détente has worked to your disadvantage.

The Prime Minister: Who decides the ceasefire lines?

Dayan: Is there any mechanism?

Kissinger: No. I think reality will determine them. UNTSO personnel could help do it.

Sisco: UNTSO. If your commanders could get in touch with the UN people.

Kissinger: Why don’t you propose it?

Sisco: I think the Secretary General has the authority.

Allon: What do we have on prisoners?

Kissinger: I told the Prime Minister there is a firm understanding with the Soviets on this. We have an understanding that both sides will use their maximum influence with both sides to release prisoners immediately. And since we’re now using our maximum influence with you, which you’re willing to do—after a desperate argument. I will say publicly in my press conference that there is an understanding.

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Peter [Rodman], make sure I notify the Soviets from the plane that the Israelis have agreed to this.

[to Dayan]: Why don’t you say at your press conference that I was assured—that I have been given reason to believe there will be an early release?

Dayan: Because we told our people that it was a condition of the ceasefire.

Kissinger: Don’t say “assurance”; say we’ve informed you that you can expect an early exchange.

Dayan: “Expect” isn’t enough.

Kissinger: I haven’t been told there will be but that the Soviets will use their influence. Can you say that there should be, rather than will be?

When I give my press conference, I can give my understanding easily. What I’m worried about is that you’ll say something that will get a negative reaction before I have a chance to say anything.

Prime Minister: A week ago I said in Knesset that there would be no ceasefire without it. Tomorrow there will be a Knesset meeting. Can I say that we’re assured there will be?

Dayan: If we can’t say it, we’ll be in trouble. We can’t open [cease-] fire if they don’t release the prisoners. Can we say we’ve been assured?

McCloskey: Then you’ll be asked, “By whom?”

Dayan: We don’t have to answer.

Kissinger: Can you do that?

Dinitz: Yes.

Kissinger: Then you can do it. Maybe I can have McCloskey say it tomorrow and you can quote him.

Eban: We’d like it on the wires before the Knesset. It meets at 3:00 p.m.

Kissinger: We’re sending a message to the Soviets now.4

Dayan: Our maneuvers on the Egyptian front were very risky but very successful. You came too early.

I’m very curious to see on the Egyptian front whether they come back. The farmers, they went off and left livestock there, which need irrigation every day.

Eban: Will the government let them back?

Dayan: Will the Egyptians really mean to maintain it, and allow normal life there?

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Kissinger: I can’t see the Arabs starting war so quickly again. It was very costly for Israel, but worse for them.

Dayan: There are five million.

Kissinger: But it’s trained manpower that counts.

Dayan: They have a lot of forces—not efficient forces but a lot. Even the Kuwaitis and the Palestinians.

Kissinger: They fought better than in 1967.

Dayan: I’m sorry to say they did. They kept fighting.

Prime Minister: Our people said they did about right as long as it went by the book. But as soon as it changed . . .

Kissinger: Did the Syrians do better?

Dayan: They were determined, fanatic. It was a sort of jihad. They fought not professionally well, but emotionally well.

Prime Minister: There are rumors that many Jordanian tanks were hit by the Iraqis.

Gazit: What time do you have for the ceasefire in the message to the Russians?

Kissinger: As long as you make an official statement for the record, we don’t have to manage it. [to Eagleburger]: Tell Scowcroft 1852 hours.

Dayan: Is there any mechanism for managing it on the ground?

Sisco: You can contact the UN or you could take the initiative to contact the Egyptian commanders directly.

Rabin: Is there any way of having direct Egypt–Israel contacts?

Dayan: They could try it with a white flag or something.

Rabin: Maybe we could arrange it.

Sisco: I think they would prefer to contact the UNTSO.

Eban: Wasn’t there direct contact in 1948?

Dayan: It started with the UN.

Eban: In 1957?

Dayan: Then we had hardly any contact with the Egyptian troops. There were British and French between us. We didn’t get to the Canal.

Allon: Because of Anglo-French stupidity.

Eban: The final pullback was March 1957.

Kissinger: Your Ambassador, when he gets a message from the Prime Minister, calls me even if it is 3:00 a.m.

Eban: You got our message at 6:00 a.m.?

Kissinger: Yes. All my key people were luckily there, at the UN, for my bilateral meetings.

Eban: I reread our memcon—you said nothing would happen until November.

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Kissinger: Diplomatically. I was trying to reassure you!

Dayan: There will be problems now with no line between the forces.

Kissinger: In Vietnam, everybody said it would be unmanageable—but it shook itself out very easily.

Dayan: On the eastern side of the Canal it’s relatively clear where they are. I suppose to some extent on the western side it is true. But on the western side, I don’t know if there is a standstill. If they move all the SAM’s up, all the work we did in the last days to destroy them. . . .

Rabin: There is no standstill.

Kissinger: We didn’t think we should negotiate this in Moscow.

Keating: It will create a problem.

Kissinger: More important is whether they want to have real talks, I mean real talks, not just stating abstract demands.

Eban: You mean privately in the room?

Kissinger: It will start out publicly, and I don’t have much confidence in that.

Paragraph three means direct talks. The legislative history is clear with the Soviets—I’ll show your Ambassador the record—that it means direct talks. It’s indissolubly linked to 242. Nothing can be implemented without the direct talks in three.

Once we get talks started, we’re not going to float an American plan. That’s not my plan or my method. I’ve been telling this to every Arab minister. They ask me, “Will you use your influence with Israel?” And I say, “There is nothing to use our influence about.”

The beginning of the process will be an historic event, even if it totally stalemates—which I expect, frankly.

Allon: Will it be another Jarring round?

Kissinger: I told the Prime Minister that that’s not how we see it.

Prime Minister: Scali said 242 is linked to number 3.

Kissinger: We don’t think Jarring or Waldheim is “appropriate auspices.”5

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 76, Country Files, Europe, USSR, Kissinger Trip to Moscow, Tel Aviv & London, October 20–22, 1973. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. The meeting was held in the Guest House in Herzliyya near Tel Aviv. All brackets except those that indicate a correction are in the original.
  2. See Document 231.
  3. George Meany, President of the AFL–CIO.
  4. See footnote 5, Document 230.
  5. At 4:15 p.m., the participants in this meeting received a military briefing from the following Israeli military officers: Lieutenant General David Elazar, Chief of Staff; Major General Binyamin Peled, Chief of the Air Force; and Major General Eliyahu Zeira, Director of Military Intelligence. (Memorandum of conversation; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 76, Country Files, Europe, USSR, Kissinger Trip to Moscow, Tel Aviv & London, October 20–22, 1973)