119. Memorandum From the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft) to President Ford1

Secretary Kissinger asked that I pass you the following report of his meeting with Prime Minister Rabin.

“I arrived tonight in Jerusalem after talks earlier today in Amman and Damascus, and went immediately to a two and one-half hour working dinner with Prime Minister Rabin and his inner circle of key Cabinet Ministers and Advisers.2

“At Rabin’s request, I gave them a full report on the mood and attitudes I found in the Arab capitals I have just visited. I painted a somber picture of the prospects for negotiations in the situation on the Arab side resulting from the Rabat summit conference, and of the consequences of a stalemate which would write the Soviets, Europeans, Japanese and Arabs against Israel and the United States. In particular, I stressed the opportunity that had been lost to preempt the PLO by earlier giving King Hussein a viable West Bank offer and made clear that [Page 461] Israel bears the main responsibility for this. So far as the future is concerned, I said we had not made up our minds whether further efforts at this stage were feasible. I told them the only possibility I saw would be if procedures could be devised whereby a next stage agreement could be worked out with Sadat, before Brezhnev visits Cairo in January, that would not surface publicly until it was close to completion; even then, there was a large question whether Sadat would be able politically to go it alone in the new atmosphere of Arab solidarity resulting from Rabat. I told them that some sort of negotiations with Syria might be necessary if Egypt were to be able to move.

Rabin took a confident and tough line at the dinner meeting, arguing that a firm stand would bring the Arabs back to reality.

“So far as the PLO is concerned, the Israelis were united in their adamant and emotional opposition to making any bow in its direction. Although there may be more serious reflection within the Government of Israel than meets the eye, they displayed a state of high anxiety that we may make some move toward the PLO, despite my making clear that we had left no doubt in Arab minds that we would not press Israel to negotiate with it. This question touches the most sensitive nerves in Israel.

“After the working dinner, I had an hour’s discussion with Rabin alone.3 I found him more understanding and more disposed to consider in a positive spirit ways to move things ahead. I will report personally to you on the specifics of this talk. I believe your talk with Shalev4 helped and Rabin assured me he would cooperate in making practical progress.

“All in all, with luck and discipline, we may be able to bring off a successful Egyptian-Israeli negotiation by the end of February.”

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, CL 156, Geopolitical File, Israel, October 1974. Secret; Sensitive. Sent for information. Ford initialed the memorandum.
  2. The memorandum of conversation of the meeting between the Israeli negotiating team and Kissinger, which took place on November 7 from 9:45 until 11:26 p.m. at the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem, is in the National Archives, RG 59, Records of Henry Kissinger, 1973–77, Box 25, CATC Nodis Memos, July–December 1974. There was another meeting between the Israeli negotiating team and Kissinger on November 8 from 10:45 a.m. until 12:10 p.m. Their discussion focused on the PLO and Jordan and military equipment for Israel. (Ibid.)
  3. No memorandum of conversation has been found.
  4. See Document 117.