114. Memorandum From the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft) to President Ford1
Secretary Kissinger has asked that I discuss personally with you the following:
“While I do not yet have a full picture of what happened at the Rabat Summit,2 everything we have heard since then bears out the initial assessment I sent you. That assessment is also shared by such perceptive observers of the Middle East scene as Bhutto and the Shah of Iran. They agree that the best opportunity for progress in the Middle East was during the past summer when the various Arab leaders were visiting Washington. They also agree that the Israelis’ stonewalling of the negotiation process prevented us from making progress.
“I am not at all certain that it will be possible to get this delicate process moving again. However, it is clear that the Israelis must get from us a sober appraisal of the situation and it is equally clear that they must hear it from you. Therefore, I think it would be a tremendous assistance to my trip if prior to my arrival in Israel you would agree to call in Dinitz, or in his absence Minister Shalev, and speak to him very sternly. This will be worth doing only if you are prepared to take a very stern line with the Israelis.
“If you agree, I would suggest you talk to Dinitz or Shalev along the following lines:
—Secretary Kissinger is in the Middle East at my instruction to determine the situation in the aftermath of the Rabat Summit and prior to our own policy review. Pending his return we obviously cannot make judgments on how the situation will develop.
—However, it is clear that the present situation has the enormous danger of leading to precisely the kind of United Arab-European-Soviet front which we have worked with Israel so hard to avoid over the past year.
—This could have been avoided if Israel had taken our advice. We urged Israel repeatedly, beginning last year and again as recently as August, to make a viable proposal to King Hussein that would enable him to preempt the PLO before a pro PLO bandwagon developed in the Arab world. We also urged Israel to make a further proposal to Sadat, [Page 453] but instead Israel dragged matters out and Sadat went empty-handed to the summit. Furthermore, Israel’s public statements about never giving up any more of the Golan Heights left the Syrians with no hope and certainly contributed to their hard line position at the summit. Finally, Israel’s stonewalling of the nuclear agreement with Egypt,3 the slow progress of aid legislation in Congress all left Sadat with no viable options.
—Therefore, I have called you in to tell you that while the United States remains a steadfast friend of Israel and is prepared to listen seriously to Israeli concerns, we cannot permit our policy to become a prisoner of domestic Israeli politics. Israel simply cannot hold the entire world at ransom.
—A continued stalemate in the negotiations will pose serious dangers. I hope your government will, therefore, talk to Secretary Kissinger with an open mind and not in the nagging tone so characteristic of our recent exchanges.
—We must be given an opportunity to make a reasonable examination of the options facing us and to conduct our policy in the period ahead on the basis of the new realities created by Rabat. We will want to examine all of this together with Israel.
—Meanwhile it is absolutely essential that Israel avoid actions and statements that would limit their and our maneuvering room, and begin to examine seriously what it can do to prevent a stalemate from developing.”