71. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Simcha Dinitz, Israeli Ambassador
  • Avner Idan, Minister
  • Peter W. Rodman, NSC Staff

[The Ambassador made the following presentation, on the basis of a cable he had just received from the Prime Minister.]

Dinitz: First a couple of general remarks, then some specific remarks. These are from the Prime Minister. We have succeeded in communicating with her, and these are her remarks, after consultation with us. We offered some of our own ideas.

She is now stronger in her opinion that our original request was the correct one, that is, that every effort should be made that there should not be a joint document. The effort of Dr. Kissinger to draft such a new paper only points out the dangers that exist in such an exercise.

Secondly, we continue to negate the necessity . . . we continue to believe in the lack of necessity for a joint document between the two superpowers in a documented form as a contribution to the solution to our problem—which we continue to see as only through negotiations between the parties.

The third general remark is that all the reservations we have stated to Dr. Kissinger in our last meeting of June 152 are valid also for any subsequent remarks, and in fact they were strengthened by this development.

The fourth point: We want to reemphasize that in our response to your request to give our remarks, we are not either partners to the preparation of the document nor are we obligated in any way or form to its content.

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Now I want to add my own personal point, as number five, to relay to Dr. Kissinger. I know it was a difficult decision for the Prime Minister to go ahead with commenting on the matter, and I know she was guided by two considerations: She trusts Dr. Kissinger, and she didn’t want to make his already difficult work more difficult. And second, she did not want the impression to be created that by not reacting we are in acquiescence with some of the serious points we see in it.

So far for general remarks. Now, the particular remarks to some of the most important points. We don’t say that if we sat down with legalistic eyes we wouldn’t draft it differently on other points, but these are the most important. I will cover these in order of the paragraphs, not the order of importance.

[The paper to which these comments are addressed is at Tab A.]

In paragraph four, the word “agreement” does appear, but to make it clearer we think it must be supplemented by “between the parties.” So it wouldn’t be thought it meant agreement among the superpowers or someone else. This goes to our original philosophy that security arrangements and guarantees cannot be instead of secure borders but at best in addition to them, with the agreement of the parties concerned. I would add orally that there couldn’t be a situation where the Soviet Union and the U.S. come to us and say “we have decided to guarantee you.” Security must result from secure borders that we will achieve in agreement with our neighbors. If there are any additional guarantees, it will be in addition and after agreement between parties.

Second, in the same paragraph 4—I told you earlier that the Prime Minister was concerned about a Soviet foothold in the area. A physical Soviet presence. You have corrected it somewhat. But the word “participation” can have a dual meaning. You probably meant participation in the international negotiation, but it could mean physical presence. We suggest saying: “International guarantees could include the Soviet Union and the United States.” In other words, take away “appropriate participation.” We don’t want them there.

In paragraph six, our remarks are very simple. We kindly request you omit the whole paragraph. Because the problematics of it are clear. You’re talking about the specific status of the Suez Canal. But you’re not talking about the specific status of Sharm el-Sheikh except in terms of freedom of navigation. We don’t think you will get a phrase about continued Israeli control of Sharm el-Sheikh, so we are better off without it. If your friends ask, “what about freedom of navigation?” you can say it’s covered by Resolution 242 and there is no need to restate it.

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The most serious problem is paragraph seven. This is crucial. This is for us very serious. I presume you didn’t even realize what a serious word you introduced into it. In 1972 you succeeded in preventing inclusion of this item because there was a reference to UN decisions, UN resolutions. That was very good, very clever. But now you are taking from these UN resolutions the most bitter pill for us—free choice—and incorporate it in the document by saying in paragraph seven “implementing the choices of the refugees.” This is absolutely unacceptable for us. We have opposed it bitterly ever since 1949.

And this is in spite of the fact that you did incorporate the sentence “consistent with national sovereignty.” We don’t think this is enough of a safeguard.

So we repeat our request to deal with the refugee problem in the manner that Resolution 242 dealt with it: “the necessity . . . for achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem.” Period.

It would have been desirable to add that sentence which I gave you earlier [about sovereignty]—I feel it’s a good thing for both parties. But if Dr. Kissinger has any difficulties with this, it would suffice to have only the reference to Resolution 242. But by no means can we accept this question of choice.

Regarding paragraph eight, we really feel that such a paragraph should be included in the peace treaty and not in a general document of principles. So we feel it’s premature and not necessary. This is not so much a remark of substance but rather an observation.

[This was the end of the Ambassador’s comments on the paper at Tab A. He then raised a few other matters.]

Tab A

General Working Principles

1. The political settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict should be embodied in a set of agreements between Israel and each of the neighboring Arab countries directly involved in the conflict. They should be based on Resolution 242 in order to achieve a final peace. The completion of the agreements should at some stage involve negotiation between the signatories. Separate agreements on specific issues are not precluded.

2. The agreements should contain provisions for withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in 1967 to secure and recognized boundaries.

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3. Any border changes, which may take place, should result from voluntary agreement between the parties concerned.

4. Arrangements for mutual security could by agreement include demilitarized and other security zones; establishment of an international force including participation of the signatory nations; stationing of such a force at strategic points; and the most effective international guarantees with the appropriate participation of the Soviet Union and the United States.

5. Recognition of the independence and sovereignty of all states in the Middle East, including Israel, is one of the basic principles on which the peace treaties must be based.

6. Freedom of navigation through the international waterways in the area should be assured to all nations including Israel. This is fully consistent with Egyptian sovereignty over the Suez Canal.

7. The problem of the Palestinian refugees should be solved on a just basis which provides for registering and implementing the choices of the refugees in ways consistent with national sovereignty and for compensation.

8. A material breach of the agreement by one of the parties shall entitle the other to invoke the breach as a ground for suspending its performance in whole or in part until the breach is rectified.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 135, Country Files, Middle East, Rabin/Dinitz Sensitive Memcons, 1973. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. The meeting took place in the Ambassador’s office at the Israeli Embassy. Brackets are in the original.
  2. In a meeting at the White House on June 15, Dinitz told Kissinger that the joint U.S.–USSR paper discussed at the 1972 Moscow summit could not serve as the basis for an Egyptian-Israeli peace agreement since it failed to address Israel’s “right to live within secure and recognized boundaries” and permitted international forces at Sharm el-Sheikh. “We don’t understand why the United States at any point should agree to a document that is worse than [United Nations Security Council Resolution] 242,” Dinitz said. “We don’t accept it at all.” (Memorandum of conversation, June 15; ibid., Rabin/Dinitz Sensitive Memcons, 1973)