179. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • President Ford
  • 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

President: Pete Dominick said he just couldn’t carry on.

Kissinger: The Middle East. I think we can work it. Israel is making noises like they are going to cave.

President: They know they haven’t pushed it one inch.

Kissinger: I told Dinitz they had said there were three areas they knew there had to be movement in—duration, warning sites, and boycott. You must be firm because they will try to rattle us. Now they have Joe Kraft2 saying I shouldn’t be the negotiator. That is another ploy.

I think you should hit Rabin between the eyes—your extreme concern over what happened in March, over the leaks, and over their trying to win public opinion here. This will actually give him something to sell at home. Tell him if there is no movement we will go to Geneva with a comprehensive proposal.

President: There are about ten things which related to a comprehensive proposal we would raise at Geneva. I wouldn’t tell him what position, just what we needed positions on.

Kissinger: You could suggest that he and I work out something that Israel can support. I will then try to move him toward the Egyptian positions without telling him about them. Then you tell him to go home and see if he can sell it to the Cabinet, and if he can, I will go to Egypt [Page 665] to sell it. If you give it as an Egyptian proposal, they will play it as Egyptian-American collusion.

President: This would be while he is here.

Kissinger: In between your meetings with him. I will tell him he has got to go East of the passes and have an unbroken line to the oil fields. I don’t know how to work the duration—probably we can bargain. On the warning stations, I would leave the manning of them open. If they offer American manning, we can say we have to run it by the Egyptians. Then he would run this past the Cabinet and I would go out a week later. We’d get it done before the Soviet Union and Syria get set.

I think you have got to show you are determined and won’t tolerate a stalemate. My impression from Dinitz—unless they are setting us up . . . I asked Bryce Harlow3 what kind of flak we would take in a confrontation. He said “Go on television to explain it and you would get overwhelming support.” I think you can get an agreement, based on your Salzburg meetings.4

President: It would put some meat on the bones.

Kissinger: I think this is the way we can do it.

President: I liked the Gromyko comment about how cumbersome democracy is in foreign policy.

Kissinger: My strong recommendation is to keep the Rabin dinner as much a working dinner as possible—even if it hurts Max Fisher’s feelings. The essence of a working dinner is that it’s only the Executive Branch plus some from Congress.

President: Okay—about 32. No Jewish leaders.

Kissinger: Rabin will want an assurance that you won’t press him on Syria and at Geneva.

President: We can’t promise that.

Kissinger: They will say they would be pressed at Geneva anyway, so why make a deal beforehand? You could say we do it to defuse the Soviets . . .

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

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, Box 12, June 5, 1975, Ford, Kissinger. Secret; Nodis. The meeting took place in the Oval Office at the White House.
  2. Joseph Kraft was a Washington Post columnist.
  3. Bryce Harlow served as an adviser to President Ford and as a congressional liaison.
  4. See Documents 177 and 178.