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

Kissinger: Now on Mrs. Meir, [unclear] here’s the situation. Here’s the situation. We had a major crisis today; I didn’t bother you yesterday. We condemned Israel in the United Nations for the shootdown. And she says she’s up for election this year so if she comes over here why is she in this country.

Nixon: Why did we do that?

Kissinger: It was stupidity. Scali talked to the Israelis up there.

Nixon: Yeah.

Kissinger: Rabin says their guy up there is very anti-American, and the more we embarrass—and belongs to a faction that’s against Mrs. Meir.

Nixon: Oh.

Kissinger: So he didn’t report it properly; so it didn’t come to our attention.

Nixon: Right.

Kissinger: Well, there are two issues: one is the negotiation; the other is the weapons. On the negotiation, she’s prepared to tell you what they’re willing to do on the interim agreement. She feels she cannot volunteer—

[Page 104]

Nixon: Is she definitely going to run? I saw in the news summary, in your summary here,2 that this fellow—

Kissinger: [unclear]—

Nixon: —says she’s not going to run.

Kissinger: Well—

Nixon: She’ll probably regardless.

Kissinger: She hasn’t decided yet, but the impression she makes is that she’s running.

Nixon: Yeah.

Kissinger: So, she is willing to proceed on the interim settlement and tell you what ideas she has, and they’re—

Nixon: Right.

Kissinger: —they’re at least workable with. On the private contacts, she feels she cannot volunteer, but if you ask her, she’ll agree to it.

Nixon: Private contact with Sadat?

Kissinger: With Egypt and the Soviet Union. She feels—

Nixon: Right.

Kissinger: —she cannot be in position of telling you to ask for other contacts—

Nixon: I handle it. [unclear] Fine. Good.

Kissinger: —but that if you raise it, she’ll agree to it. That’s it for now. Second, on the planes, they have req—

Nixon: The only thing I was concerned about, the briefing paper here is that it’s making a commitment for the planes.

Kissinger: Well, here it was—

Nixon: I think—I know we said it all along: “Well, let’s not let the planes get in the way of the agreement.” Well, if we [unclear]—

Kissinger: No, here’s what the State and Defense Departments have recommended that we—you should recommend. They are in favor that—of your accepting aid in their production for a hundred planes. And—and giving them 15 a year for 4 years. My recommendation is that on the—they have asked for 66 a year. My recommendation is that you don’t get into the numbers at all.

Nixon: All right.

Kissinger: That you say to them that you’re willing to have them work out with our people the—for the future deliveries of F–4s and A–4s. Now, within the framework, you’ll give it sympathetic consideration, now, and that you’re willing to agree to the hundred, to the pro[Page 105]duction of a hundred airplanes. They’re going to do it anyway; it’s just a question of doing it a little faster—

Nixon: Yeah.

Kissinger: Then she can say—and that should be not enough, but at least she can go home to her Cabinet as if she got something. If you turn her off completely—which no one has recommended, incidentally, neither Defense nor State—this with respect to production is exactly what—

Nixon: What they want. I know.

Kissinger: —what State—no, no. It’s half of what they want.

Nixon: On production?

Kissinger: They want to produce two hundred. It’s exactly—

Nixon: Oh, exactly.

Kissinger: It’s exactly what State and Defense recommended.

Nixon: I get it.

Kissinger: And on purchase, it leaves open the numbers for a later discussion. And if you can do that, I think then the discussion—I mean, that’s much less than they want; it’s half of what they want to produce, and it gives them no fixed figures on, on delivery.

Nixon: [Pause] Yeah. Ok.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Tapes, Conversation No. 866–4. No classification marking. According to the President’s Daily Diary, Nixon met with Kissinger in the Oval Office between 9:47 and 10:37 a.m. (Ibid., White House Central Files) The editors transcribed the portion printed here specifically for this volume.
  2. Kissinger’s news summary is ibid., NSC Files, Box 922, VIP Visits, Israel (Golda Meir’s Visit), 1 Mar. 1973.