201. Memorandum of Conversation1
- President Ford
- Senator Jacob K. Javits (Republican—New York)
- 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
[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to the Arab-Israeli dispute.]
[Senator Javits:] I told Henry I wanted five minutes to give you the feeling of the American Jewish Community. It is deeply devoted to Israel. Consistent with that, it is deeply devoted to America. If the President would lay it on the line and say this is in the American interest, it would be agonizing. If there is no doubt that we will provide Israel with military equipment immediately. Their worry is we will use military equipment as leverage and undermine what they think they need for their defense. If that is laid to rest, I think the rest is manageable.
At least 15 years ago I was in the office of Chief of Protocol in Israel and they began to talk sensitive matters. I reminded him I was an American Congressman and they shouldn’t discuss anything in front of me they wouldn’t say before any other Congressman.
President: I think you know the way I have voted and spoken. I am a firm friend of Israel.
Senator Javits: I know.
President: I have hundreds of Jewish friends. I am deeply convinced an interim agreement is the best. But it may fail. The odds are not good because of the problem of the passes. To make certain that Israel is strong unilaterally and secure, I was far more generous than my advisors recommended. The result is that Israel is far more secure than before the war or at any other time. They will tell you that. There has to be flexibility on the passes. Without them, they will be more secure than they were before. There is no question about their military security. I don’t understand their lack of flexibility. I don’t want to have to go to Geneva but we can’t have a stalemate.
I hope our good friends here and in Israel know we think it is in their and our best interests. It is in our mutual interest to get an interim settlement.[Page 751]
Senator Javits: Are the Egyptians just sweetening us for the eastern end of the passes?
President: They want our friendship and help. They want to show independence. If they don’t get it, they will be forced to go elsewhere.
Kissinger: Remember that Egypt isn’t asking for the passes for themselves. They would be UN.
Javits: I assume that all the variables are within your command.
Kissinger: I think we can find a solution. Sadat made some additional concessions at Salzburg to get Israel out of the passes—including electronic surveillance. He now thinks Israel has just pocketed these concessions and not moved.
Javits: The American Jews think Israel is so exposed that they would fall on the Israeli side on anything that Israel thought it needed for its security. You have to be thoughtful on this point. American Jews have thought that Israel was being asked to be given up ground for paper. Israel must be in harmony with the U.S. and American Jews haven’t grasped that. They fear that our interest in the Arabs will lead us to ask Israel to make concessions in exchange for an American moral commitment. So there is no pressure from American Jews to push Israel to make concessions relating to security.
President: If we don’t get some movement, I have to lay the record out—that is not good.
Javits: Rabin said they would have to reconstruct their whole defense line. Would we help them—give them enough to do that?
President: They would still have their main line.
Kissinger: The side issues have all been sorted out. Their mines, forward lines and logistic installations would have to be moved—but we would support a jog in the line so the logistic installations wouldn’t have to move. We would support a six-month transition in the north to give them time to reconstruct the line.
Javits: How long would it last?
Kissinger: There are two aspects. The first is that the agreement would last until it is superseded by another agreement. That Israel knocks aside—and shouldn’t. The other is UNEF. We can get three years there.
Javits: The crisis for Israel is the United States. It is extremely desirable to have a settlement and not to go to Geneva. Those are the two real points for American Jews.
Kissinger: Geneva is a lousy way to have to go. You know, it brings all the Arabs together, brings the Soviet Union in, and forces a consideration of all issues comprehensively.
- Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, Box 13, June 27, 1975, Ford, Kissinger, Senator Jacob Javits. Secret; Nodis. The meeting was held in the Oval Office at the White House.↩