209. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • The Secretary
  • Under Secretary Sisco
  • Ambassador Eilts
  • Assistant Secretary Atherton
  • Deputy Assistant Secretary Saunders
  • Jerry Bremer, Notetaker


  • The Middle East

The Secretary: Have you shown them the map?2

Sisco: Just in a preliminary way.

The Secretary: What is your reaction?

Eilts: It’s not good enough but it’s an improvement.

The Secretary: Which one did you see?

Sisco: I showed them both.

Eilts: This is the first one. (spreading map on table)

The Secretary: They will go beyond the line here to here (pointing to map).

Eilts: That’s helpful.

The Secretary: He has told us that he can go back here (pointing to the south).

Sisco: Hermann said he thinks we have a massive problem in the south.

The Secretary: Up in the north, I doubt if we can change.

Sisco: How close can we get to the blue line?

The Secretary: There’s no way of knowing but he said they can do better than this.

Eilts: In here? (pointing to map)

The Secretary: Yes. They can show it on the map as Egyptian civilian administration but we could make a private deal with Egypt that [Page 779] while that is true the UN will not exercise civilian administration there. Since there’s no population, there won’t be anything to administer and there won’t be a problem. It will enable him to show an uninterrupted access to the south.

I think it should be handled as follows. The map they will send us will be this map with this (pointing to line on map) moved back a little. I think we should then draw for you this fallback line and say that when I got the first map I said I wanted more ideas. (By the way, you can’t leave at 5:00 tomorrow with the map coming at 2:00). Then we should take the map and draw it with the changes and say Rabin said we would make these changes. In my personal opinion, they can do better here (in the south), but not in the north. Don’t say it’s agreed to yet. Then he can still get something out of us. You see what I mean?

Eilts: This here is up to them to decide (pointing to map). But it must be in the UN zone.

The Secretary: Tell them we are thinking of some mechanisms we have previously worked with in which tethered balbons could be used.

Saunders: That’s not immediate. It would take at least a year.

The Secretary: It takes nearly that long to get an agreement.

Eilts: What happens here (in the south)?

The Secretary: Wouldn’t it ease Sadat’s mind if we could say “if we can find a road to build, they will agree to move their line to let it be built.” That is at least morally more acceptable to Sadat. Then they can use the roads on alternate days. I’m not sure he’ll accept it but if it shows some meeting of his concerns. Then he’ll be able to show on his maps that he’s got a stretch and here in the south. It can be temporary.

Saunders: You still have to build the Egyptian road here (pointing at map).

Sisco: It’s physically doable, though it will take two years to do.

The Secretary: You have to raise that with the Israelis.

Atherton: The map seems to show tracks here.

Saunders: We have looked at that. There are 90 kilometers in the wadis but it would be a major job.

Sisco: Most of the access in that area is by water anyway.

The Secretary: What do you think, Hermann?

Eilts: I think we’re getting in to the range.

Sisco: Did you want to say a word about the companies, Henry?

The Secretary: There would be no companies if they are out of the passes.

Eilts: But will they be out of the passes?

[Page 780]

The Secretary: They will be 500 meters from the Parker memorial.3

Sisco: What is it?

The Secretary: It’s a fountain pen that’s in the ground and they’ve called it the Parker memorial. (laughter)

Eilts: Egypt may argue that their forward line should move.

The Secretary: How far?

Eilts: 5 or 10 kilometers.

The Secretary: That’s impossible. We have to be realistic. In the last phase we may beat them into two or three kilometers or, alternatively, into two companies.

Saunders: In practical terms, the single use of the road from here to here will be for an extended period.

The Secretary: Would they want to use the road?

Saunders: I think they will just to assert themselves. That is, the Israelis.

The Secretary: But would Egypt?

Saunders: Yes, it’s their only way to the oil fields for people and equipment.

Eilts: They will certainly want to use it.

The Secretary: It will take to 24 months to build it to here as I understand it. How long to here?

Sisco: That part is undoable.

Saunders: (unfolding pictures) Let me show you how difficult it is on these maps.

The Secretary: We still have massive problems then right? (looking at pictures) That I’ve seen. That’s to here isn’t it? It’s about 50 kilometers?

Sisco: That’s what it says.

The Secretary: Where is this?

Saunders: Right in here (pointing at map) where it turns back from the east.

The Secretary: Well I think you should show this to Sadat. Say the problem to here is solved but not below unless we can move the Israelis somewhere below.

Saunders: That’s where it’s insoluble. There is no way to move back from the coast. They would have to have two roads side by side.

[Page 781]

The Secretary: But at least with two roads they could use them on alternate days.

Saunders: If you’re going to alternate, you might as well only build one road. It’s a 24–30 month project with lots of money involved.

The Secretary: The way to present it to Sadat is to give him all three options. (Sisco hands the Secretary a cable)4 Have we done an answer to this?

Sisco: Yes, we’ve developed a reply which has to go out tonight.

The Secretary: What is the language of the Presidential letter to Sadat?

Sisco: I haven’t pulled it out yet. But I thought it was to make a determined effort to push them out.

The Secretary: You should have seen it, Hermann. Here was Dinitz this morning5 giving me a long Talmudic explanation of why the Egyptians had not renewed UNEF. I think they just screwed up. I said you know you guys are crazy. These were just a couple of guys in Cairo blowing off steam. Unless you understand that you don’t understand the Egyptians.

Sisco: I’ll show Hermann the paper.6

The Secretary: They said they were trying to establish certain legal principles with UNEF that they could use again etc. etc. I tell you they were just blowing off steam. Fahmy wanted to show he was the brightest guy in class.

Eilts: Although I think Sadat was about ready to do it himself too. They certainly were working on each other.

The Secretary: It’s funny to hear them tell these heroic epics about how they’ve exposed somebody; I’ve never yet found anyone who knows he was exposed. (Laughter)

Eilts: That exposure weapon is their big weapon.

The Secretary: How often have they said it. They’ve said they’ve exposed Asad how many times?

Eilts: Why do they want the six stations?

The Secretary: Because there’s a road connecting the two passes in addition to the road between the two passes. And then in case Egyptians might hop over one, they need one on each end of the road connecting the passes. They asked for six and I said four. This will then be [Page 782] an epic Rabin victory. These two are on higher ground, while these two are in the passes.

Atherton: Those poor guys on the post will have nothing to do.

Eilts: What are we talking about—20 people each?

The Secretary: In these, maybe as few as five.

Saunders: You have to give them at least enough for a card game.

The Secretary: I would think maybe 10 or 15 at the most.

Sisco: It will cause problems on the Hill.

The Secretary: You should explain to Sadat that we’ll have to put this to Congress and it will cause all kinds of hell. It will be very sobering to the Congress with respect to the Israelis. We will generate a debate on what we should never do and they will be more cautious later on. I think it will flush out lots of concerns.

You should lead Sadat to know that if he can’t accept this in principle, we can’t push much further. Within the framework of the negotiations, we can get slight improvements on the line here and there and we can probably get the SAMs up to the canal.

Eilts: That would help with the military.

Saunders: Moving the SAMs has a practical effect. It covers their troops.

The Secretary: Don’t tell him it’s certain. Just say it’s based on a private talk with Rabin and he is not sure he can get it through the Cabinet. It certainly cannot be settled before the shuttle. On the shuttle, either we can move the line a little bit or we can get the two companies. He can count on these yellow areas here and also here and he can do a little better here (on the South).

Sisco: In the shuttle? Shouldn’t we get into it now?

The Secretary: I want to show it on the map as something Rabin will get later, but not now. This he can get now. For him it’s better to show progress during the talks. You should try to see him with Fahmy.

Eilts: There’s no way I can do it without Mubarak if he’s in the country.

The Secretary: All right, tell him I’ve got Rabin’s assurance on this during the shuttle. In addition, I think, but don’t have assurances, I can get more down here in the south. We can remove the bulge more and make a massive effort to make this part of the Egyptian Civilian zone. Warn him the Israelis want a station here. We are prepared to show it as U.S. administered with Israeli personnel. We don’t have enough personnel to man them. He can have Egyptian personnel in his under U.S. personnel.

Tell him we discussed this with the Israelis and that we’d also like to give American equipment with this and the Israelis did not object.

[Page 783]

Sisco: I understood you to say that we would not give American equipment.

The Secretary: No, just that we would not give the most sophisticated equipment. We cannot give the most sophisticated equipment.

Saunders: The easiest thing is for the Egyptians to move in their own equipment since they’re not trained on ours anyway.

Eilts: We have to reckon with the fact that Gamassy will see the station as having a limited value.

The Secretary: We have worked with the tethered balloon concept and I asked the Israelis about it.

Saunders: That’s why we are in the tethered balloon business. They are the ones who asked us to develop it.

The Secretary: I think we are getting to the point where you have to convince the Egyptians that if the basic concept does not now go, we’ll have to go to Geneva.

Eilts: Okay.

The Secretary: I think if he wants to put his romantic qualities to the test he can sell this. There are two areas here which are still troublesome.

Eilts: The pass thing is helpful.

Saunders: This stuff in the north here is really niggardly though.

Sisco: We should avoid supporting it.

The Secretary: It’s not a question of supporting it. Say that beyond this we’ll require an effort of the magnitude not distinguishable from that needed for an overall agreement. Up here, I think they should go back (pointing to north).

Sisco: I can’t believe we can’t get them back to the blue line all the way along in the north. I just don’t believe that Rabin draws a line loosely like that.

Saunders: There certainly is no military argument.

Sisco: It doesn’t touch his installations.

The Secretary: It does touch the installations because it means that there is no heavy equipment ahead of them.

Eilts: It’s an improvement taken as a whole.

The Secretary: I would think we could move the thin-out line back here. I don’t think they’d move the forward line back to here (pointing to the north on the map).

Saunders: If there’s a chance to make an effort, we can get an improvement there.

Sisco: The important thing is in the south.

[Page 784]

The Secretary: My worry is that these guys have sold it in the Cabinet on the basis of trading one thing for another. I told him in Bonn7 that we’d understand the bulge. Do you think, Hermann, the bulge is important enough to go on the barricades for?

Eilts: No, I would make an effort but I wouldn’t go on the barricades about it. Other problems exist. The big thing is getting them out of the passes even if it’s only 500 meters.

The Secretary: Assuming the Parker memorial is at the end of the passes. Who was Parker anyway? I think the road is further down than the mountains.

There are two choices. Either we go through the same business and tell Rabin it’s unacceptable and we’re passing it along without a recommendation. I think there’s a 50–50 chance the Israelis would say the hell with it. My personal evaluation is that Rabin is the biggest dove in the Cabinet and is doing what he can. Hal, what do you think?

Saunders: I doubt we can get much more.

v: I think Egypt will come back and then we will go back to the Israelis.

The Secretary: Sadat has to decide whether he finds it roughly acceptable. I’d tell Dinitz tomorrow that we will pass it along only with a stronger statement but with the understanding that we need some room for negotiations but not massive changes.

Eilts: Do the Israelis know about Sadat’s final map?

The Secretary: No, I was afraid it would leak. They would have used it to prove it was hopeless. I described the first map orally. I never told them about the second one.

Atherton: What if Sadat asks again for an American map?

The Secretary: This is as close to an American map as we’ll get since I’ve told the Israelis what they can do.

Atherton: It’s not quite everything.

The Secretary: But we judged that giving an ultimatum would not work.

Saunders: We can’t draw them a map.

The Secretary: There’s some progress here.

Eilts: I think it’s very helpful in the south.

The Secretary: He’s three quarters of the way down there. Maybe he has an idea how we can finish it up.

[Page 785]

Saunders: What does happen down there? Is there any way to widen the corridor? If they both use the same road perhaps we can eliminate the appearance of a choke point down there some how.

The Secretary: But are the Israelis permitted to move military equipment on the road?

Now I think we should get agreement in principle on what we have got. The Israelis are now sufficiently interested. Once they have gotten agreement in principle they’ll be awful. But they will have to sell some of it to the Cabinet. This will take two or three weeks. The shuttle simply can’t be done in two or three days.

Sisco: I don’t see the shuttle happening in August. I think it’s closer to September. He hasn’t even surfaced all the text of the bilateral agreements.

The Secretary: Let’s not bother with that now. If Sadat doesn’t accept this, there’s no point in adding the other things.

Sisco: (handing the Secretary a cable)8 I’d like you to see this reply. I think it has to go.

The Secretary: (reading and changing cable) Did Hermann agree with this?

Eilts: I haven’t seen it.

Sisco: It just came in 15 minutes before we came up. I’ll show it to Hermann.

The Secretary: Will you see the British please.

Sisco: Sure.

The Secretary: Tell Sadat we won’t do any of this until he approves it (referring to cable). We can do it only knowing their reaction. Just say please just let us know immediately.

Sisco: We may want to make a few changes in it.

Saunders: Do I understand we send only one map with Hermann?

The Secretary: The best would be to put it in one of our own maps because our own maps don’t show the mountains so crassly.

Atherton: It may look as if it’s out of the passes.

Eilts: They have the same map in Arabic and on the same scale. It’s that map I sent back—it’s the same as this one.

The Secretary: I would present the exact map the Israelis presented us then give him the other map, perhaps on one of ours, showing the yellow areas on a separate map and say, “These are the areas which we obtained as a result of our going back to Rabin.” In addition, I have a private belief that in the south they can do better than the yellow area [Page 786] and get this part (pointing to the south). I think it’s better to show something beyond what he already has.

Saunders: It would make sense psychologically to put these variations on our map, I think. Then we can say that’s our working map.

The Secretary: That’s good. You’re beginning to think like an Arab, Hal. (laughter) The first map is the Israeli map, the second is our map. We can fix it up later. Do it in bites. No, let’s show the real Israeli map. Say the yellow line is approved by the negotiating team but not approved by the Cabinet. Anything beyond that is Rabin’s personal view.

Now let’s get a cable out tonight to Fahmy. Tell him we met with the Israelis. There’s distinct progress. They raised an additional consideration on which I want further progress. Therefore I’m holding Hermann here to get some replies. I think that given their epic minds this will help.

Eilts: I should be there not later than Saturday PM.9

The Secretary: There’s nothing to hold you until the map arrives at about 4:00 tomorrow. We have to go over it so you could leave Saturday morning.

Eilts: There’s really no good way to go.

The Secretary: It’s up to you. I doubt you’ll make 7:30 tomorrow night. We’ll want to go over your talking points too. I don’t think you should cut it that close. (reading cable on UNEF) Tell Fahmy nothing we’ve presented here has been discussed with the Israelis. The three things he wants we can do. Why not tell him we can do it?

Sisco: I’m sending it along these lines: That we need to consult with the Israelis who feel they didn’t feed this crisis.

Eilts: The proximate cause, of course, was Rabin’s statement.

Atherton: May I raise again the Ford-Asad meeting?

The Secretary: There’s just no time for it now.

Atherton: I reviewed the exchange with Asad and I think it will be a severe disappointment.

The Secretary: I know. Khaddam raised it again.10

Atherton: Well, let’s not underestimate the setback with Asad and the loss of our position. There is a real benefit in linking him with the President.

The Secretary: The only possibility is seeing him before Helsinki.

Sisco: When are you leaving?

[Page 787]

The Secretary: Saturday. We could leave Friday and do Asad Sunday in Vienna.

Sisco: Do you think you should check with the President?

The Secretary: I’ll discuss it with the President. I agree with you. It’s a cheap thing to pay and it happens to be a lousy time because we must tell him something. He’s too bright to be fobbed off. We could explain the problem with the Japanese.

Saunders: He would ask why not come early.

The Secretary: Would Asad come to Bonn?

Atherton: Probably, yes.

The Secretary: I just wonder why the President should have to move.

Atherton: Khaddam said they could do it any place.

The Secretary: Well he mentioned Vienna.

Atherton: Bonn is a problem because you saw Rabin there.

The Secretary: You know I’m fonder of Asad than Sadat. I have a weak spot for Asad. In his context, he’s showing as much courage as Sadat. He has that wild Syrian integrity.

Eilts: No Syrian has integrity.

The Secretary: No Egyptian has integrity.

Eilts: I agree.

The Secretary: Though there is a smidgen more in Asad. Sadat is a statesman. Safire got it totally screwed up you know. It’s the exact opposite that’s true. Fahmy is our friend there, not Sadat.

Eilts: Sadat likes you though.

The Secretary: He likes this President more than Nixon I think.

Eilts: Yes, he finds him more human.

The Secretary: That sounds plausible. (Laughter)

Eilts: When Nixon was there, there were those long awkward silences.

The Secretary: That is also a quality of Sadat though.

Eilts: Well, with Ford he chatted all the time.

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, CL 346, Department of State Memorandum of Conversations, Internal, July 1975. Secret; Nodis. The meeting was held at the Department of State.
  2. No map is attached, but a final status map is printed in Appendix B, Map 4.
  3. According to Kissinger’s memoirs, the Parker Memorial was a stone slab dedicated to a British engineer who had built roads in the Sinai during the 19th century. (Years of Renewal, p. 452)
  4. Not further identified.
  5. Kissinger met with Dinitz from 10:52 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. (Memorandum of conversation, July 17; Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, CL 158, Geopolitical File, Israel, July 12–22, 1975)
  6. Paper is not further identified.
  7. See Document 208.
  8. Cable not further identified.
  9. July 19.
  10. See Document 193.