214. 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

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

[Kissinger:] On the Middle East. We have a good map coming. [He points out the passes on the map.]2

I guarantee you the Israelis, once the agreement is signed, will announce that they are not out of the passes.

The passes are one big contested point. The next point is the warning stations. I told Dinitz the worst thing Israel has done is to insist on these stations. We will supervise Umm Khisheiba and can justify one station as needed to check Umm Khisheiba. This issue is pure Israeli domestic politics.

Jackson told Dinitz not to make an interim agreement because it would only help you and me. He said he would vote for the stations but they would damage Israel. I am getting turned off with Jackson. They say he turned on Vietnam; why wouldn’t he on Israel?

I will shave some off the Israeli line.

Then there is the problem of moving the Egyptian line forward. In the South, they have agreed to broaden the narrow parts. There will be joint use of the road.

This is not a satisfactory agreement. The Israelis have not been smart to push Egypt this far. It will lead either to peace or another war.

[He reads the Sadat letter to the President.]3

[Page 797]

The problem with this letter is we can’t be caught in a position where we look duplicitous, because the Israelis want the opposite. They have given us a 25-page memorandum of what they want from us.4 I will leave a copy of this with you.

[Reads from the Israeli document.]

They asked us not to make an overall proposal which they haven’t approved and any proposals which they haven’t cleared.

I would like to reaffirm what you have already said to Rabin—that you will take the Israeli views very seriously.

I would tell Sadat that we will be ready in 1977 for an overall proposal.

[Gives the President a draft letter that Israel wants him to send to Rabin.]

On an agreement, there will be three sets of documents. We will leave a set of everything with Brent and let you know every day where we stand. It will be the most tawdry nitpicking.

There is the basic agreement, a protocol spelling out where the lines are, then a U.S.-Israeli bilateral agreement—that 24-page paper. They want to prevent your doing what you did last Spring—hold up military equipment. [Reads all the military equipment they want.] For now they want just a military figure that we will promise. There are other items. The figure is now $3.2 billion. Those demands—and the warning stations—may barely evoke their support for 1977. They want a figure today.

President: I can’t, in good conscience, go above $2.1 billion. We had been thinking of 1.6 to 1.8. We have cut back so much on other programs that it really is hard on us. What is the budget figure?

Scowcroft: We haven’t given any, but the estimate was at the previous year—$700 million.

President: Tell them $2 billion and not one cent more. Even that will be hard to sell to the Congress.

Kissinger: I think we can explain 2.1 better than 2.0.

President: O.K. But start with 1.6. For 3 million people that is a lot.

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

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, CL 282, President’s File, August 1975, Folder 2. Secret; Nodis. All brackets, with the exception of ones describing omitted material, are in the original.
  2. Map is not attached.
  3. In his letter to Ford, Sadat reminded Ford of their common strategy, devised in Salzburg, whereby the United States would ultimately offer “a package deal to solve this chronic and explosive crisis.” Sadat also stated that it was “imperative to tackle the Middle East crisis in its entirety, namely, effecting the withdrawal of Israeli forces from all occupied territories and solving the Palestinian problem with a view to restore to the area tranquility and normalcy in a binding form.” (Backchannel message, August 14; Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Backchannel Messages, Box 5, Sandy Circuit, August 1975, Incoming)
  4. The 25-page Israeli memorandum has not been found, but an August 12 memorandum of conversation between Dinitz and Sisco includes Dinitz’s explanation of a proposed Israeli text of an Israeli-Egyptian agreement and a U.S.-Israeli memorandum of understanding. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, CL 159, Geopolitical File, Israel, August 10–18, 1975)