27. Telephone Conversation Between President Nixon and his Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

Nixon: You’re going to meet tomorrow, now, with all these people? I—

Kissinger: I’m going to meet tomorrow afternoon.2

Nixon: Yeah. Um-hmm.

Kissinger: Or, from—

Nixon: Now, you don’t know what went on with their meeting at State,3 huh?

[Page 79]

Kissinger: They took a very hard line and—

Nixon: Um-hmm?

Kissinger: —nothing really concrete.

Nixon: Well, their line couldn’t possibly be harder then the Israelis’ line. I mean, the Israelis, Henry, we’ve got to realize, haven’t—haven’t budged even a third of an inch. These people, at least, have said they’ll recognize [laughs]—you know, they’ll make a peace treaty.

Kissinger: Well—

Nixon: So, if we—

Kissinger: —but they’re saying it in a complicated way. They say they’ll make a cease—a cease-fire, and then the peace treaty they’ll make if the Palestinians and the Israelis settle.

Nixon: Yeah, I know. I know. But, being objective, the Israelis haven’t moved.

Kissinger: No, the Israelis haven’t—

Nixon: And they’re being—acting—I mean, the way they’ve handled this airplane thing4 is just—I mean, it’s worse than the way Laird handled the bombing of that goddamn French Embassy.5

Kissinger: Well, one problem—

Nixon: Unbelievable!

Kissinger: —is that they are having—I called Rabin to tell him about your view with respect to Mrs. Meir, that she shouldn’t come in and say nothing can be done.6 And he said they have an election campaign [unclear]—

Nixon: I know. Well, that’s right.

Kissinger: Not about that, but about the plane.

Nixon: Yeah.

Kissinger: And, in Israel, to be a hawk is more popular than the other.

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Nixon: Right, I understand. Well, that’s their deal this year, and then it’s next year ours. But, this is our year to really do something. And so, we can—we’ll have a little fun with it.

Kissinger: Right. [Laughs]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Tapes, Conversation No. 162–7. No classification marking. According to the President’s Daily Diary, Nixon spoke with Kissinger from Camp David between 6:10 and 6:16 p.m. Kissinger was in New York. (Ibid., White House Central Files) The editors transcribed the portion printed here specifically for this volume.
  2. See Document 28.
  3. The conversation between Rogers and Ismail and their colleagues took place at the State Department from 12:50 to 3:22 p.m. on February 23. (Personal Papers of William P. Rogers, Appointment Books) According to a memorandum of conversation prepared by Atherton, Ismail indicated that Egypt was launching an effort “to persuade the U.S. to change its policy in the Middle East to one which would not be based on what Egypt considers total support for Israel.” With regard to a peace settlement, Ismail stressed that Egypt “seeks a final settlement which would respect Egyptian sovereignty over all its territory,” and is not seeking “partial” or “independent” solutions. Secretary Rogers responded by telling Ismail that an interim agreement to open the Suez Canal would “move in the direction of such a settlement, and that, if once this journey could be started, it would lead to a result in which Egypt would achieve most, if not all, of what it seeks.” (Memorandum of conversation; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 131, Country Files, Middle East, Egypt/Ismail, Vol. III, [MEMCONS], Pres. Feb. 23—HAK Feb. 25–26, 1973)
  4. See footnote 2, Document 22.
  5. On October 11, 1972, the French diplomatic mission in Hanoi was heavily damaged during a U.S. bombing raid on the North Vietnamese capital. In response, Secretary of Defense Laird authorized a statement from the Pentagon, which expressed regret for “any personal injury or damage caused in the area of the French delegation building during the air strikes and the North Vietnamese firing on United States aircraft.” (The New York Times, October 12, 1972)
  6. No record of the telephone call has been found.