358. Memorandum From Secretary of State Kissinger to President Nixon1

SUBJECT

  • Information Items

Middle East Situation: Egypt called off yesterday’s scheduled meeting with Israeli representatives on the question of the disengagement of forces, apparently in protest against what the Egyptians view as Israeli stalling. Another meeting is set for today. A senior Egyptian official reported on November 24 that the talks had reached a “dangerous” but not “critical” stage because of what he described as Israel’s persistent refusal even to discuss the restoration of the cease-fire lines of October 22. Although General Gamasy, Egypt’s chief negotiator, has [Page 981]indicated that he personally will not participate in further talks,2 there has been no indication that the Egyptians intend to terminate the meetings completely.

The Israelis reported over the weekend a further rise in the level of both Egyptian and Syrian preparedness.3 They cited the following developments on the Egyptian front as possible indications of intentions to renew hostilities:4

—ground forces are conducting patrols and may have gone to a higher state of alert;

—at least nine surface-to-air missile batteries have been shifted to an unspecified location on the west bank;

—“meteorological preparations” for artillery fire were noted along the front yesterday; and

—the Egyptian Air Force has conducted reconnaissance flights all along the front.

The Israelis report, in addition, that Syria declared a maximum alert for its air force on November 24 and that there has been unusual activity in Syrian communications systems. U.S. sources have been unable to confirm any of this Egyptian or Syrian activity. Egyptian air activity, in fact, has been normal or below normal.

[Omitted here is material unrelated to the Middle East.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 56, President’s Daily Briefing, President’s Daily Briefs, 16 November–31 December, 1973. Top Secret; Sensitive; Contains Codeword. A stamped notation reads: “The President has seen.”
  2. Telegram 5090 from USUN, November 25, reported on the November 24 talks at KM 101 during which Egyptian General Gamasy indicated that he would be quitting the talks because of lack of progress. The report noted that the Secretary General was thinking about asking the United States to intervene with the Egyptian Government to retain Gamasy as chief negotiator. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files)
  3. Intelligence Memorandum No. 1464/73, November 25, describes the buildup. (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1177, Harold H. Saunders Files, Middle East Negotiations Files, 1973 Middle East War, CIA Situation Reports)
  4. The President highlighted this and the following paragraphs and wrote in the margin: “K—if Israel—regardless of any alleged provocation engages in military action they will go it alone.”