144. 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 . . .

“I met with President Sadat and his key advisers, Foreign Minister Fahmi and General Gamasy, for about three hours,2 to present the points of a political character which the Israelis want included in any agreement in return for Israeli withdrawal from the passes and the oil fields. I explained to Sadat that the key problem is the Israeli domestic situation and that in order for Rabin to get the cabinet to take the decision to withdraw from the passes and the oil fields he must be in a position to show specifically the political quids he has received in return. I [Page 534] stressed that Rabin cannot agree to a purely military withdrawal, but it must be presented to the Israeli people as a tangible step toward peace. Sadat listened intently, commented decisively on points which he felt he could include, and, equally decisively, where he felt that certain Israeli demands were beyond his political capacity.

His two principal advisers, Fahmi and Gamasy, were, not unexpectedly, more cautious, and Sadat intends to review with them each of the points I discussed today and to give me his considered reply sometime tomorrow evening to take back to Israel. I am cautiously hopeful that Sadat will give me enough to maintain the momentum of the negotiations which could bring us in a few days to the beginning of the actual drafting stage. How much I bring back from Aswan will influence Rabin very significantly on whether and when he places before the cabinet a recommendation to withdraw out of the passes and the oil fields. My impression is that Rabin, Allon, and Chief of Staff General Gur have taken a positive attitude towards the agreement and even Peres seems to be coming around.

Sadat continues to reflect confidence that he can manage Syria’s opposition to an Egyptian-Israeli agreement, and he would like us to undertake a further effort with Syria once his agreement with Israel is consummated. He wants something started with Syria by the end of April so as to provide Syria with the justification for renewing in May the UN force in the Golan. I said I would consider this, but I made no final commitment. He did not seem perturbed at the prospect that the PLO issue might immobilize a Geneva conference at the outset, and he left this matter for further discussion between us at a later stage.

There was one particularly interesting moment when I talked to Sadat alone. I presented him with a letter from Rabin which I had suggested and in which, in very human terms, Rabin expressed his strong desire to achieve the agreement with Sadat.3 This letter moved Sadat to tears, and he said, that this was the kind of thing which he had always wanted. I believe this was a good psychological stroke, and I hope that it will have an impact on the considered version which Sadat will convey to me tomorrow night for subsequent presentation to the Israelis.

[Page 535]

I will go to both Damascus and Amman on Saturday,4 and return to Israel on Sunday afternoon.”

Warm Regards

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Kissinger Reports on USSR, China, and Middle East, Box 3, March 7–March 22, 1975, Volume 1.1 (7), Kissinger’s Trip. Secret; Sensitive. Sent for information. Ford initialed the memorandum.
  2. A memorandum of conversation of the meeting between Sadat and his advisers and Kissinger, which took place on March 12 in Aswan, is ibid., Volume 1.1 (6), Kissinger’s Trip.
  3. In the March 11 letter, Rabin expressed his hope to Sadat that Israel and Egypt would reach an agreement. He wrote: “I know that no agreement is possible without difficult decisions but I am ready to grapple with them for the sake of the cause of peace between our countries.” He continued that in order to convince the Israeli people of the need to make these difficult decisions, he needed to see “that the act of withdrawal marks the real beginning of progress towards peace by deeds and words that demonstrate the intention of peace.” (Ibid., Volume 1.1 (5), Kissinger’s Trip)
  4. March 15.