120. Letter From President Ford to Israeli Prime Minister Rabin1

Dear Mr. Prime Minister:

We are looking forward to the visit of Foreign Minister Allon and regard it as of major importance.

After the long pause in the negotiations since the Syrian disengagement agreement, it is absolutely essential that another step be taken soon. The Soviets are obviously moving into position to regain some of the ground they have lost, and Brezhnev’s visit to Cairo appears to have been timed to coincide with the time when they judge our negotiating effort will have lost momentum.

If we cannot give realistic promise of progress very soon, we risk losing all control over the situation. Coming on the heels of the failure to start Jordan negotiations on time, this would have the most serious consequences for Israel and for the United States. A stalemate on all fronts, therefore, cannot be accepted.

Foreign Minister Allon should come prepared to develop a proposal that can promptly become the basis for a realistic negotiation with Egypt. Secretary Kissinger has told you enough about President Sadat’s views that it should be possible for you now to know what the issues will be and how they might be dealt with in ways that will protect the interests of both sides. Recalling our conversation in Washington2 and the discussions you and Secretary Kissinger have had since then, I am counting on substantial progress during the Foreign Minister’s visit.

I am pleased that it has been possible to work out an extension of the UNDOF mandate. I did not want to raise this subject while the UNDOF issue was still unsettled, but now as I look back over the past two weeks, I want to say, so that there will be no misunderstanding later, that Israel’s sudden call-up of reservists3 at that tense moment [Page 463] without prior discussion with us is something that cannot be risked again.

There may be some in Israel who feel it helped bring the Syrians around. I know from our efforts in Damascus that it did not and would be a serious mistake to follow that reasoning in the future.

In any case, it is essential that we work together closely. We cannot be responsible for the consequences and cannot play the role you look to us to play—and which we wish to play—if we are again taken by surprise by a move of this kind.

As you know from our conversation, I want us to cooperate closely and effectively, and I believe Israel’s interests have been fully taken into account in our every move. This will continue to be the case in my Administration, and I will look to you to assure that our common interests are taken into account in each of your moves.


Gerald R. Ford
  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Kissinger-Scowcroft West Wing Office Files, Box 15, Israel, Items 25–31, November 15–December 4, 1974. Secret. A handwritten notation at the top of the first page reads, “Hand delivered to Min. Shalev by General Scowcroft, 11/26/74, 5:30 p.m.” Kissinger’s covering memorandum to Ford, November 26, recommended that before Allon’s arrival in Washington on December 9 for a meeting with Ford, the President should write a letter to Rabin to convince him of the need to send Allon with “a proposal we can work with and not just some more preliminary ideas.”
  2. See Documents 99 and 100.
  3. On November 15, Israel called up approximately one-third of its reservists and increased its guard on the Golan Heights. Reportedly, some Israeli leaders claimed the call-up was in response to provocative military moves made by Syria coordinated with the Soviet Union. (Washington Post, November 18, 1974, p. A14) The UNDOF mandate was renewed for another six months on November 29.