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333. Backchannel Message From the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft) to Secretary of State Kissinger1

Tohak 76/WH37305. There follows a message from Prime Minister Meir which has just been relayed to us by Minister Shalev.

“Message for Secretary Kissinger From Prime Minister Meir

November 9, 1973

The Prime Minister is preparing a message to the Secretary2 according to which the Secretary cannot make an announcement on behalf of Israel so long as the Prime Minister does not receive replies to a number of questions which will appear in her message as well as replies to points she raised in her talk with Ambassador Keating this morning.3 For Israel, the six points are a package deal with top priority given to the prisoners of war.4 The new Egyptian positions not only represent substantial differences in the interpretation of the agreement but also differences in its execution of the agreement. This interpretation also stands in direct contradiction to the Memorandum of Understanding between Israel and the United States which was negotiated by Secretary Sisco.5

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If the United States will nevertheless publish the agreement and do so in behalf of Israel as well, it must be absolutely clear that as far as Israel is concerned, the six points of the agreement and the Memorandum of Understanding are inseparable as was agreed upon with Secretary Sisco during his visit to Israel on November 7.”6

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 41, Kissinger Trip Files, HAK Trip—Mideast, Islamabad, Peking, Seoul, TOHAK 70–119, Nov. 5–16, 1973. Top Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only; Flash. Sent to Rodman for Kissinger.
  2. See Document 335.
  3. In telegram 9074 from Tel Aviv, November 9, 1256Z, Keating reported on Meir’s concerns over the ongoing negotiations. Israel would not turn over the Cairo–Suez road to the United Nations and would not agree to the Egyptian demand that Suez City become a “free or open” city with unimpeded access to the Third Army on the East Bank. She was also opposed to having the peace conference open on December 8 or 9 because of Israel’s upcoming elections. Keating asked Meir if a letter from the Secretary reaffirming the validity of the U.S.–Israeli Memorandum of Understanding would result in Israel’s agreement not to delay transmission of the letter to the Secretary General. He recommended that Kissinger send a reassuring Flash message to the Prime Minister as soon as possible. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 136, Country Files, Middle East, Dinitz, November 1–30, 1973)
  4. See Document 324.
  5. See Document 327. In his memoirs, Kissinger recalled that “the Memorandum of Understanding was a detailed statement of how Israel intended to interpret the provisions of the six-point accord. These interpretations were not unreasonable; we were prepared to accept them privately and commit ourselves to support Israel should there be a dispute. What we could not do is what the cabinet seemed to want: turn the Israeli-American Memorandum of Understanding into the basic Egyptian-Israeli agreement. This would have required going back to Sadat and asking him to confirm formally what he could only accept de facto: such as lifting of the blockade at Bab el-Mandeb; Israeli control over the Cairo–Suez road; and the details of resupply of the Third Army, which would have brought home its plight to every Arab.” (Years of Upheaval, p. 652)
  6. In telegram 9096 from Tel Aviv, November 9, 1630Z, Keating wrote that since he had received no reply to telegram 9074, he had felt it necessary to inform the Prime Minister’s office that the letter to the Secretary General would be released at noon, New York time. The Prime Minister had asked that the release time be delayed pending clarification of the issues she had raised with him earlier that day, but Keating noted that this was now academic since Reuters had broken the story. He reported that the Prime Minister’s public stance would be that Israel was awaiting further “clarifications” but privately to the United States this meant that Israel had ratified the six points with the understanding that they were linked to the U.S.–Israeli Memorandum of Understanding. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 611, Country Files, Middle East, Israel, Vol. 13, Nov. 73–Dec. 73)