410. U.S.–Israeli Memorandum of Understanding1

This Memorandum of Understanding is intended to express how Israel and the United States will approach their respective roles at the Geneva Conference.

1. The Governments of Israel and the United States agree that the Geneva Conference is aimed at the attainment of a just and durable peace between the parties, that this peace will be a contractual peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors, and that its objective is full reconciliation between the two sides.

2. In the spirit of the special relationship that exists between our two countries, the United States will consult fully with Israel on a step-by-step basis with respect to any ideas it may wish to explore with the Soviets or with the Arabs concerning the settlement.

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3. The U.S. will make a major effort with the Syrians and Soviets to achieve a prompt and satisfactory solution to the Israeli-Syrian POW problem. It will press Syria to submit promptly a list of POW’s, to permit the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit them and report that they are being treated in conformity with the Geneva Convention and will agree to an immediate exchange of wounded POW’s. If Syria has not taken the above action, Israel will participate in the opening phase of the conference but not undertake any substantive discussion with Syria at that phase, and the U.S. will show full understanding for Israel’s attitude.

4. Israel reiterates its decision to observe scrupulously the ceasefire on land, air and sea on a reciprocal basis. The United States will exercise its good offices in order to assure that the other side will abide by its undertaking to observe scrupulously the ceasefire. If the U.S. has reason to believe that there has been any change in the Egyptian position the U.S. will seek a reconfirmation that the Egyptian commitment to observe the ceasefire remains in force.

5. All the existing arrangements with regard to the non-military supply to the Third Army as well as the City of Suez will be maintained unless superseded by other arrangements mutually agreed.

6. The United States will do its utmost to insure that the existing arrangement regarding the uninterrupted passage of ships through Bab-El-Mandeb, to and from Israel, will remain in force, and that Egypt will not apply any blockade measures.

7. It is understood that, in accordance with accepted international procedure, the participation at a subsequent phase of the conference of any possible additional state, group or organization will require the agreement of all the initial participants.

8. The negotiations in the Conference will be conducted between the parties concerned as specified in Resolution 338. Israel and the United States agree that it is their view that the Secretary General should participate in the opening sessions in a non-substantive capacity and that he can appoint a representative who would remain throughout the Conference after he has left. His principal duty would be to keep the Secretary General informed and to help assure that the technical and conference arrangements being provided by the U.N. are in order.

9. Since the negotiations between the parties are under U.S.–USSR auspices, it is expected that the two major powers will maintain close contact with each other and the negotiating parties. At the same time, it is the view of both Israel and the United States that the prime focus should be negotiations between the parties concerned. The U.S. will work in concert with Israel to maximize opportunities for negotiations between the parties without the presence of either of the major powers.

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10. In view of the fact that the Soviet Union does not maintain diplomatic relations with Israel, the Government of Israel seriously questions the propriety and the feasibility of the Soviet Union acting as one of the two powers under whose auspices the Conference is being held. The United States notes Israel’s reservations regarding the role of the Soviet Union at the Conference. The United States will make every effort in its consultations with the Soviet Union to encourage it to play a constructive role at the Conference.

11. The Peace Conference will not discuss or take any action on any substantive issue prior to the elections in Israel, other than the question of the disengagement and separation of forces. The Peace Conference will reconvene only after the new Cabinet is formed.2

12. The United States will do its utmost to prevent any attempt to convene the U.N. Security Council or any other U.N. body for the purpose of discussing or taking action on any of the outstanding issues which were discussed at Kilometer 101 or which will be discussed at the Peace Conference.

13. Israel and the United States agree that nothing in this Memorandum alters the text of the joint U.S.–USSR letter which will be despatched to the U.N. Secretary General upon receipt of the approval of the parties concerned.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 136, Country Files, Middle East, Dinitz, December 1–31, 1973. Secret. The memorandum is attached to a December 20 transmittal letter from Shalev to Scowcroft which stated that he took pleasure in forwarding two copies of the Memorandum of Understanding, which included the changes agreed upon during the Secretary’s visit to Israel, December 16–17. See Documents 399 and 401.
  2. (provided it is understood that the U.S. does not feel resumption of Conference could be delayed beyond mid-January). [Footnote in the original.]