145. 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 . . .

“Now that the first intensive rounds with the Israelis and the Egyptians have been completed, a clearer picture has emerged as to the needs of each side, and how far each is willing to go to meet these needs. I have now finished my talks with Sadat;2 whether an agreement is achievable remains uncertain. We have made progress on the political aspects, but we have very difficult problems on the military side of the agreement.

“In rather precise terms, Egypt’s key demands are: (A) Israeli withdrawal out of the passes and oil fields; (B) Egyptian forces to move eastward to the western entrance of the passes; and (C) agreement on a balance between all Egyptian and Israeli forces in the Sinai.

“In order to meet Israel’s needs on the political side, Sadat, while not willing to give a formal declaration of non-belligerency, is willing to include in the agreement: (A) that the interim agreement is a step towards peace; (B) that Egypt is willing to resolve all differences by peaceful means; (C) that Egypt will refrain from the use use of force against Israel; and (D) that as a part of the process towards peace, the agreement would remain valid until superseded by another agreement. In addition, Egypt may be willing to participate jointly with Israel in as[Page 536]sisting the UNEF command in the buffer zone; it agrees to automatic annual review of UNEF; it is willing for Israeli cargoes to go through the canal; it is willing to reduce hostile propaganda emanating from Egyptian controlled media; it will allow free passage through the Straits of Bab al-Mandab; it agrees to freedom of movement through the Sinai and Gaza for Egyptians; and it is willing to undertake quietly and informally, particularly in relation to selected American firms, ways to ease economic boycott practices.

“What are the key problems which emerge from the above compendium of elements.

“First, and fundamental is whether Rabin feels the political quids Sadat is willing to provide are enough to justify putting before the cabinet on Sunday a recommendation for Israeli withdrawal out of the passes and the oil fields.

“Second, the Egyptian proposal, in which they are insisting not only on an Egyptian move of its military forces to the western entrance of the passes, but also an increase in the number of Egyptian forces east of the Suez Canal, lays bare the Egyptian strategic military objective. Its purpose is to give Egypt a stronger military presence numerically but also to extend substantially its zone east of the canal. Moreover Egypt seeks a more equitable balance in the forces in the Sinai. In other words, what the Israelis face in this proposal is not only a drawback from the passes but also a stronger Egyptian military presence east of the canal. I am virtually certain that this will prove unacceptable to Rabin. If the Egyptians stick on this proposal, it could become an issue on which the agreement could break. It might be possible, however, to work out a lesser Egyptian military move forward with limits on the number of forces, which Israel might be able to live with. It might also be possible to balance Egyptian forces at the western end of the passes with Israeli forces at the eastern entrances of the passes.

“Finally, the Israelis are seeking not only a commitment from the Egyptians that they will not use force, but also a commitment that all future issues will be resolved by peaceful means. It is significant that Sadat has agreed to give a commitment not to use force, and that this will be made public. This should prove reassuring as a practical matter to the Israelis; it would also provide the kind of cosmetically feasible practical step towards peace, going beyond the limits of the military disengagement agreement which Rabin needs to convince his cabinet.

“Moreover, the Israelis want assurances against surprise attack. In addition to the commitment against the use of force, Israel is seeking ways to strengthen UNEF, including some role for joint Egyptian/Israeli participation. On the basis of what we know at present, something along these lines may prove feasible.

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“I am asking Scowcroft to show you a cable of the intensity of Syrian pressure.3 The tragedy is that a few kilometers in the Golan would solve the problem.

“I will be meeting with Rabin and his colleagues tomorrow, and we will know a bit more clearly where matters stand. Further adjustments in the positions of both sides will be required if an agreement is to be achieved. Whether each side has enough political room for maneuver still remains in doubt. Nevertheless, we have received enough from each side to give us something to work with. I therefore expect to continue the process in hopes that we will find ways to close the gap on key issues.”

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. The memorandum of conversation between Sadat and Kissinger of a final March 13 meeting at Aswan is ibid. According to an annotated chronology of the March 13–22 meetings between Kissinger and Sadat and Kissinger and the Israeli negotiating team, entitled “Chronology of the Decisive Phase of the Negotiation,” the meeting took place from 6:50 to 9:50 p.m. (Ibid., Volume 1.1 (1), Kissinger’s Trip)
  3. Not further identified.