106. Memorandum From the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft) to President Ford1
The following is Secretary Kissinger’s report of his first meeting in Israel:
I had a two and one half hour initial session with the Israeli leadership—a cautious questioning, somber Rabin, flanked by Foreign Minister Allon, Defense Minister Peres, and Chief of Staff Gur.2 I carried away the impression of three relative equals—of a collegium—Allon and Peres, rather than the Prime Minister carrying the discussion in a decisive way and in a definitive direction. At one point they had to suspend the meeting to concert their responses to my inquiries regarding next steps in negotiations.
The first half of the meeting was spent on giving them impressions of the mood and temperament I found in the three Arab capitals already visited. I described the nervousness and tenseness I found in each Arab leader—a Sadat trying to figure out how he can manage the upcoming October 26 Arab summit so that he is free to undertake Egyptian-Israeli negotiations if he wishes; a volatile and passionate Asad, firm against piecemeal agreements and seeking to prevent a separate Egyptian-Israeli negotiation; and worried Hussein who will insist [Page 434] he, and not the PLO, be supported at the summit by his Arab colleagues as the negotiator for the return of the West Bank, but ready to remain aloof from the negotiating process if the Arabs support the PLO.
I did not press the Israelis at this time either to give me a specific line of withdrawal in the Sinai or a map. I asked for a personal assurance (rather than a cabinet decision which would leak) from the three cabinet members that they would agree to a political-meeting type negotiation involving a second stage Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai if I could get Sadat’s assent; these talks to take place in the U.N. buffer zone in the Sinai; the announcement of which would come about November 3 or 4 if I decided to return to the area. I stressed, however, that before I pressed Sadat to this end I had to have a rough idea at least as to what the Israeli essential requirements were. If these requirements were out of the ball park, I would be foolish to press Sadat into something which would perhaps weaken him irreparably and thereby undermine fundamentally overall interests of the U.S. in the Middle East.
I got something from them—far less than a more farsighted Israeli Government would have provided, but perhaps barely enough to at least carry forward my talks with Sadat and give him some glimmer of hope that something reasonable could come out of a negotiation with Israel. Sadat will need to be fortified in this way if he is to proceed in a reasonably bold fashion at the Arab summit. You can get an idea of the magnitude of the Israeli starting demands when I tell you that for withdrawal of somewhere between 30 and 50 kilometers from their present line on the Sinai, they want not only a commitment of Egyptian non-belligerency, but they want assurance there will not be a third phase negotiation for at least five years. In other words, a defacto separate peace with Egypt for what will be considered by the Arabs a modest withdrawal. This will be impossible to achieve, but the Israeli ideas can be used to begin a process during which there will and must be grudging and inevitable give on their part.
We meet again early Sunday3 morning at which time I will focus more on the Jordanian aspect of the negotiations.