186. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • President Ford
  • Mr. Max Fisher
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

President: When do you leave? [For Israel].

Fisher: Tonight. I just thought anything you want to tell me would be of help.

President: We have narrowed the differences with Rabin, but we still are at a crunch point. I thought we made more progress, yesterday compared to the first day. There still are some differences, specifically related to the passes. Unless we make more progress it won’t work. I was encouraged yesterday, less so today. Henry will meet with Rabin today to see if we can make more progress. Both sides have moved, but if neither moves any further we won’t have an agreement. Is that right, Henry?

Kissinger: Yes, except you know the Israeli domestic situation. The Cabinet hasn’t approved anything, so the movement is Rabin, not Israel. The President described it precisely. We will have to see if there are still possibilities.

Fisher: The Likud seems to be having problems. It looks to me like the political situation is better, but I’ll know better when I get there. But it sounds like you are narrowing the differences.

Kissinger: Yes. But we have no reason to think Egypt will settle for less than the passes. But they have offered more, so it wouldn’t be an Israeli cave. So both would appear to have given some.

Fisher: How about duration?

Kissinger: We are working on it. We haven’t solved it.

Fisher: The boycott.

Kissinger: We can make some concrete steps. Sadat said he can’t invite American companies into Egypt, but if they apply, he won’t make the boycott list be a barrier.

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Fisher: I think it is important that we make this their work.

Kissinger: Another problem where you could help: The propensity is to drag things out. We have a window with the Soviets to the end of July, so we need to move before then.

President: They want our help on CSCE. So as long as we have that in front of us, we can keep them quiet on the Middle East.

Kissinger: We have told the Israelis this; it is just that you could emphasize it.

President: If we don’t get a basic agreement by the middle of July, we lose our leverage, and I will have to go to the overall alternative. I have told State to draw up an overall plan as insurance. I am telling you that—I haven’t told the Israelis that, although I am sure they realize. To put all our chips on an interim which fails, and to have no back-up, just won’t work.

Fisher: Did this matter of Egyptian arms come up?

Kissinger: There was one story about us selling. That is bunk. Today there was a report about $1 million in arms from Great Britain. I doubt it and it was not confirmed by the British. The British don’t have the kind of sophisticated arms Egypt needs. The problem is Egypt has cut itself off from the Soviet Union. We must decide whether we want them to go back to the Soviet Union or whether we will do it. Basically, I don’t think it against the American interest for Egypt to buy its arms in the West.

Fisher: How about Syria and Jordan, just for my information?

Kissinger: All we know is what is in the paper. Hussein told the President he wouldn’t agree to a joint command.2 We have to find out. If it is to bring the PLO under control, that is not against out interests. We are looking into it.

President: We have narrowed the gap, but it doesn’t help if it is not closed.

Fisher: What can I do?

Kissinger: Emphasize the seriousness of it.

President: We have to have the flexibility if it is to work.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, Box 12, June 12, 1975, Ford, Kissinger, Max Fisher. Confidential. The meeting was held in the Oval Office at the White House. Brackets are in the original.
  2. See footnote 2, Document 173. On June 12, Syria and Jordan announced that they would form a Joint High Commission to coordinate military, economic, political, and cultural policies. The joint statement also endorsed the decisions of the Rabat summit. (New York Times, June 13, 1975, p. 3)