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391. Letter From President Nixon to Israeli Prime Minister Meir1

Dear Madame Prime Minister:

I have just learned that your Government at today’s Cabinet meeting was unable to reach a decision to attend the peace conference in Geneva on the basis of the joint U.S.–Soviet letter2 and the clarifications contained in my last letter to you.3

While I recognize that you are in a delicate election period, I must nevertheless tell you frankly that I deeply regret your Government’s failure to come to a positive decision. As I said in my last letter, I am convinced that, as a result of Secretary Kissinger’s intensive negotiations, the proposed letter to the Secretary General fully protects your position and interests.

Because so much that we have both worked and hoped for is at stake, we are with great reluctance proposing to the Soviet Union and the other parties that the opening of the conference be delayed until Friday, December 21. This will give you an opportunity to present your Government’s views fully to Secretary Kissinger when he visits Israel this Sunday4 and to hear my views from him. I hope that the others concerned will agree to this delay. But I must tell you that I cannot ask for a longer postponement, given their readiness to attend the conference on December 18 and the advanced state of planning by their Foreign Ministers. You know, of course, that December 18 was originally chosen to accommodate your Government.

As you know, Madame Prime Minister, the point would not have been reached of obtaining Arab agreement to enter negotiations with you, which has been your goal for so many years, had it not been for the untiring efforts and determination of this Government and its support for your goal of a negotiated peace. It is of course inconceivable that we should now not take this step. I want you to know that I have instructed Secretary Kissinger to be present at the opening of the conference on [Page 1065]December 21 if the others agree to a postponement, or December 18 if they will not.5

Sincerely,6

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 136, Country Files, Middle East, Dinitz, December 1–December 31, 1973. No classification marking. A handwritten note on the letter indicates that Scowcroft handed it to Shalev at 6:15 p.m. on December 14.
  2. The final text of the letter was transmitted to Scowcroft in telegram Hakto 39 from Riyadh, December 14. Kissinger instructed Scowcroft to send Keating a copy of the letter after giving it to Shalev. (Ibid., Box 42, Kissinger Trip Files, HAK Trip—Europe & Mideast, HAKTO 1–88, Dec. 8–22, 1973)
  3. Document 388.
  4. December 16.
  5. In telegram Tohak 85/WH37599, December 15, Scowcroft reported to Kissinger that he had passed the President’s letter to Shalev, who had reacted very positively, saying that the extension of time would be of great benefit psychologically because it would remove Israeli fears that they were once again being faced with a fait accompli. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 42, Kissinger Trip Files, HAK Trip—Europe & Mideast, TOHAK 76–133, Dec. 8–22, 1973)
  6. Printed from an unsigned copy.