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

Secretary Kissinger asked that I pass the following report to you on his second meeting with the Israelis:

I have just completed my last session with the Israelis,2 and I wanted to give you my judgment as to where I believe matters stand. In short, I believe the ground work has been set for my second mission in early March, but I still cannot be sure where the Israelis will come out.

The principal change which has resulted from my current trip is that the main focus of the Israeli leadership is no longer on the limited 30–50 kilometer withdrawal, in which Sadat, understandably, has no interest. I believe they now understand this would be insufficient and that the Israeli leaders may be willing to consider a withdrawal east of the passes and out of the Abu Rudeis oil fields, provided Sadat is able to provide certain political quid pro quos. This is a meaningful shift in perception. Rabin and Allon seem disposed to bring this proposition to the Cabinet if we can bring back from Cairo during my next mission the [Page 511] kind of political quids which can help develop broad support in the country and of other political leaders.

I also believe that Sadat has made meaningful political concessions though I have held on to them for fear of leaks.

Therefore, it is important that none of us be confused by the kind of ambiguous and conflicting public reports which will be emanating from the various Middle Eastern capitals between now and early March. For example, Rabin gave a backgrounder today saying that I had brought nothing new to him from Cairo. Taken literally, this in fact is quite accurate. This public line is being taken purposely by Rabin since at this juncture he wants to avoid stirring up speculation among and between the Cabinet members, which could build up prematurely all sorts of opposition to a possible agreement. In a sense, Sadat is also doing the same thing publicly, by coming out with a strong line that he cannot give to the Israelis the kind of quids they want. The public line being taken by the Israelis will not come as a surprise to Sadat since we had previously agreed that I would not discuss with the Israelis any specific quids Sadat may have in mind.

The Syrian aspect is also complicating. I believe Asad will make an all-out effort to cause difficulty for Sadat if he concluded that Egypt intends to enter into a separate arrangement which leaves Syria out. For this reason, I was careful to avoid giving Asad the impression he was being kept on the sideline, but he is already deeply suspicious. Sadat will have to face up to that difficulty if we get to the point where common ground has been achieved between Egypt and Israel. This will also be of great concern to King Faisal, whom I see tomorrow.

I wanted you to have a picture of the current situation, as I see it, and the reason why the public manifestation of where matters stand will tend to give a conflicting picture. For my part, I plan to continue to take the line that we have no concrete proposals and decisions have been left for the next trip.

I had an interesting two hour lunch with Mrs. Meir today.3 I found her in good health and good spirits, and she wishes to be remembered to you. I believe she understands the overall strategic situation which Israel faces, and while she has carefully avoided becoming directly involved in the political situation since she left office, my hope is she might prove helpful at some important juncture, if it proves necessary.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Trip Briefing Books of Henry Kissinger, Box 5, February 10–18, 1975, Middle East and Europe, HAK Messages for President, February 14, 1975. Secret; Sensitive. Sent for information. Ford initialed the memorandum.
  2. A memorandum of conversation of the meeting between the Israeli negotiating team and Kissinger, which took place on February 13 from 9:35 until 11:35 p.m. at the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem, is in the National Archives, RG 59, Records of Henry Kissinger, 1973–77, Box 22, Classified External Memcons, December 1974–April 1975, Folder 5.
  3. A memorandum of conversation of the lunch meeting between Meir and Kissinger, which took place on February 14 from 1:10 until 2:50 p.m. at Meir’s residence in Ramat Aviv, Israel, is in the Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, CL 163, Memcons, February 1973–February 1975.