371. Memorandum From Harold H. Saunders and William B. Quandt of the National Security Council Staff to Secretary of State Kissinger1

SUBJECT

  • Egyptian and Israeli Positions in Km 101 Talks

Our information on the substance of the talks at Km 101 has been limited to Egyptian and UN sources, plus some press information from Israel. You may have heard more about the Israeli position from Ambassador Dinitz, but the picture we have from the available sources seems fairly consistent. In brief, the talks seem to have moved through the following stages:

November 22. Yariv opened with a proposal that both parties pull back from territory gained in the war and that UNEF take over these areas. Gamasy countered with a suggestion that the Egyptian forces would stay in place and that the Israelis would withdraw to a line in the vicinity of the passes. He proposed zones for main forces, lightly armed screening forces, and a central area held by UNEF between the two [Page 1025]sides. Yariv responded with the idea that Israel would withdraw from the west bank provided that the Egyptian forces on the east bank were thinned out.

November 24. Yariv said that the Egyptian forces could stay in Sinai provided that their armor was removed. In return, Israel would withdraw to a line west of the passes. Gamasy then introduced the idea of mutual reduction of armored strength.

November 26. Yariv was still pressing the point that Egypt must reduce the level of armor on the east bank, but stated that Israel was prepared to withdraw to a line east of the passes. The talks ended with disagreement in the concept of mutual reductions in strength.

November 29. Gamasy tried to press Yariv further on withdrawal and mutual reduction of forces, but found that Yariv was under instructions to go back to the original Israeli proposal that both sides withdraw from the territory gained in the war. This led to the breakdown of the talks and to Egyptian anger at what appeared to be Israeli stalling tactics. The Israelis apparently took the position that the talks were going well beyond the type of disengagement needed to stabilize the ceasefire and were beginning to deal with basic issues of a peace settlement.

On the basis of the positions put forward on November 26, the main areas of disagreement seem to have been:

—Egypt wants any thinning out of forces to be on a “comparable” basis.

—Egypt would like a clear idea of when a second stage of disengagement would begin.

—Israel wants to reduce the Egyptian forces on the east bank of the Canal to a token presence.

If talks are to resume at Km 101 prior to the Geneva peace conference, we should be able to encourage movement on the substance of a disengagement phase without losing the opportunity of appearing to produce an agreement at the conference itself. You could convey to both sides your hope that progress will continue in the direct talks, so that during your trip to the Middle East the final details could be worked out. Then, if agreement is in fact possible, both sides should agree to make this known during the opening sessions of the Geneva talks. This would help them get off to an impressive start.

The cables that best describe the positions taken in the talks are attached.2

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 639, Country Files, Middle East, Arab Republic of Egypt, Vol. X, Nov. 73–Dec. 31, 1973. Secret; Outside the System. Sent for information. Kissinger initialed the first page.
  2. Telegram 5040 from USUN, November 23, and telegram 5090 from USUN, November 25, are attached but not printed. See, respectively, footnote 6, Document 361, and footnote 2, Document 358.