161. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • President Gerald Ford
  • Vice President Nelson Rockefeller
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Lt. General Brent Scowcroft, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

Kissinger: I think if they had heard this before I left they would have caved. They think that we are too weak to take seriously and that they can get what they want from Congress.2

The President: Mike [Mansfield] and Hugh [Scott] will make a joint statement and McClellan will introduce a joint resolution.

Kissinger: I think they have made basic misjudgment. I think Nessen should announce a reassessment.

[Page 572]

President: How about calling Dinitz in?

Kissinger: I think it would look like blackmail. The reaction was amazing.

The President: They won’t get $2 billion again like the last time.

The Vice President: That is why I asked the question I did—were they leading us along until they got arms?

Kissinger: It’s the right question, but we couldn’t answer.

The President: I am glad Schlesinger was there. He won’t think there is any money to make anymore.

Kissinger: The Israelis’ behavior is an outrage. To have received a letter from you3 and not to change one iota is an indignity to the United States.

President: What do we do?

Kissinger: We should send out a NSSM today. We should have an NSC meeting on Wednesday or Thursday.4 There should be no visit by Peres, no F–15 mission; we should slow up Lance and LGB. Every Department is to be instructed to end the special relationships. We should know who they see—they should have one special contact in each Department. [less than 1 line not declassified] We should work for two–three weeks on a position. We must have a comprehensive plan for Geneva.

The President: It was great when O’Neill asked where the boundary was. Let’s get the assessment.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to the Arab-Israeli dispute.]

Kissinger: I think you were really in charge. You never know until a crisis where the steel is. Maybe this will pay us.

The President: When you keep Burton quiet—and Cliff Case and Scott. Have we heard from anyone but Fisher?

Kissinger: They will mobilize the Jewish Community against us—no doubt.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to the Arab-Israeli dispute.]

[Kissinger:] For the reassessment, you should tell Nessen: This will be a reassessment of our policy toward all the countries in the area. When progress is no longer possible along one direction, it is essential that a reevaluation take place to determine where we are and where we should go.

Don’t use the word “failure.” If they ask, “Does this mean a cutoff of aid to Israel?”, say “Not at all.”

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, CL 157, Geopolitical File, Israel, March 1975. Secret; Nodis. The meeting was held in the Oval Office at the White House. All brackets, with the exception of ones describing omitted material, are in the original.
  2. Kissinger is referring to Israeli reaction to congressional leaders’ criticism of Israel after Ford and Kissinger reviewed the failure of the negotiations. See Document 160.
  3. Document 156.
  4. March 26–27. The meeting was held on March 28; see Document 166.