289. Transcript of Telephone Conversation Between Secretary of State Kissinger and the Israeli Ambassador (Dinitz)1

D. . . . is transmitting it over the telephone to the Prime Minister this minute.2 As soon as he is finished reading it I will go back on.

K. I will give you the President’s reaction. Right now if you want it.

D. Sure, I will go back to my office. Just a moment.

K. Let me give you the President’s reaction in separate parts.3 First he wanted me to make it absolutely clear that we cannot permit the destruction of the Egyptian army under conditions achieved after a ceasefire was reached in part by negotiations in which we participated. Therefore it is an option that does not exist. We will support any motion in the UN that will . . . Secondly, he would like from you no later than 8:00 a.m. tomorrow an answer to the question of non-military supplies permitted to reach the army. If you cannot agree to that, we will [Page 772]have to support in the UN a resolution that will deal with the enforcement of 338 and 339. We have been driven to this reluctantly by your inability to reach a decision. Whatever the reasons, this is what the President wanted me to tell you is our position. An answer that permits some sort of negotiation and some sort of positive response on the non-military supplies, or then we will join the other members of the Security Council in making it an international matter. I have to say again your course is suicidal. You will not be permitted to destroy this army. You are destroying the possibility for negotiations which you want because you are not making possible . . .

D. Your proposal to let the army go is very close to our proposal.

K. You can make any proposal you want to us and we will transmit it. We are not transmitting anything to the Egyptians. We have not had an answer to the last message,4 but that only went out two or three hours ago. Maybe it will turn out they will accept your proposal and I will have a drink with you. As it stands now it is our official position that if you do not make some proposal along these lines, we will have to go along with the majority of the Security Council. We can probably make a proposal and you can delay the implementation of it on practical grounds and get a little more time.

D. If we make an offer on the supplying of non-military supplies?

K. That is right. Then we could at least point to something that we have managed to achieve in the . . . I must tell you that you are perfectly free to play it your way and see what happens. Maybe the Egyptians will be so desperate they will accept your proposal. It is not my judgment. It is inconceivable that the Soviets will permit the destruction of the Egyptian army and that the Egyptians will withdraw their army. It will bring down Sadat. It is not something he will agree to.

D. I am not authorized or feel competent to give advice. But why can’t I answer that Israel offers to let this army go intact with all side arms but cannot have 200 tanks go with these people so they can go back on us.

K. The agreement was ceasefire in place. Now they won’t accept losing all that equipment and giving it to you.

D. They can blow it up.

K. You are asking them to destroy 200 tanks and pull their army out. They will never do it and the Soviets won’t take that. Why don’t you bluff for a day and see if you can get it.

D. That is what we tried to do.

K. If that is going to be your formal answer we will of course transmit it. It can be under no . . .

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D. Mr. Secretary, if I asked my government to transfer to you the military plans we were able to obtain about the defenses of this army, will it make any difference. What is their operational plan?

K. Right now I don’t think they have any plans.

D. They do as of today. We have it on tape.

K. That is their way of breaking out.

D. If they want to break out and go home we could help them. They don’t have to kill our people. Their plan is to cut us and fortify themselves with tanks and missiles. It is suicidal for us in either way.

K. It is.

D. 10,000 tons of supplies that the Soviets have provided them. Twenty-four hours and we would have to rush to you like last Friday night.5

K. I have given you the President’s views of the ceasefire agreement.

D. It is not we who force your confrontation with the Soviet Union. By its actions they have forced it.

K. If the Soviet Union did this to you or Egypt after a ceasefire agreement I would urge on the President the most drastic measures.

D. We did not do this without them fighting us after the ceasefire. You say it’s immaterial. The note of Brezhnev is full of mistakes and you know it, Mr. Secretary.

K. I know only the basic situation is produced by bottling up of the Third Army, and I think you can make demands that no additional military equipment go into there.

D. Under what auspices?

K. UN personnel.

D. Including Soviet personnel?

K. That is one of the things that can be raised. That will be reasonable.

D. I will transmit it to the Prime Minister, of course, and get her reaction. Maybe she would want to send a note to the President. She has wanted to and I have been talking her out of it.

K. She can send a note to the President. It won’t make the slightest difference. I will get the . . . It is the mildest possible reaction you will get in the bureaucracy. If everybody got . . .

D. I think what is at stake here is so important for us I cannot come . . . what I have said to you.

K. If you will call me at 8:00 in the morning.

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D. If the Prime Minister asks some more questions, can I still get you?

K. I am going home.6

D. I will try not to call you.

K. But, of course, if it is important you can call me.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Kissinger Telephone Conversations, Transcripts (Telcons), Chronological File, Box 23. No classification marking.
  2. Dinitz is referring to Brezhnev’s message to Nixon, Document 288.
  3. The President, who had gone to Camp David that evening, spoke to Kissinger from 10:21 to 10:23 p.m. and then to Haig from 10:24 to 10:31 p.m. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files, President’s Daily Diary) No record of the conversations has been found.
  4. Document 286.
  5. October 12. See Document 168.
  6. Before going home, Kissinger spoke with Dobrynin at 11:15 p.m. to inform him of the substance of Brezhnev’s hotline message, which Dobrynin had not yet received. Kissinger informed Dobrynin that “we will send an answer in a couple of hours. We will discuss the issues that are raised on a really urgent basis with the Israelis and we hope to get an answer by tomorrow afternoon our time, but it is a real tough problem.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Kissinger Telephone Conversations, Transcripts (Telcons), Chronological File, Box 23) Printed in Crisis, p. 397.