216. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Joseph J. Sisco, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs
  • Amb. Malcolm Toon, US Amb. to Israel
  • Winston Lord, Director, Policy Planning Staff
  • Alfred L. Atherton, Jr., Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs
  • Harold H. Saunders, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs
  • Robert B. Oakley, NSC Staff
  • Peter W. Rodman, NSC Staff


  • Israeli Political Situation

Kissinger: [Turns on the babbler]2 What is the situation here now?

Toon: Not good. The public is upset, the press is very nasty. Rabin thinks he can do it.

Kissinger: You think there is doubt he can?

Toon: If you are prepared to pay the price.

Kissinger: What price?

Toon: Aid, political commitments you might not be prepared to give.

Kissinger: We offered $2.1 billion, which gets to the outer limit of what we can do. Look, the President now is vetoing milk for feeding [Page 803] mothers. He has been told that once he gets to $2 billion, he gets in trouble.

Toon: But the trouble is, there has been a whole troupe of Congressmen coming here saying they can get it, saying they could get $3.5 billion.

Kissinger: It is not in our interest to give $3.5 billion.

Toon: One figure mentioned was $1.9 billion. Rabin said it was not enough. $2.1 billion might do.

Kissinger: As Joe knows, I have had massive problems with the President. He asked me to offer $1.9 and settle for $2.1 billion. But I don’t want to play games.

What do they think they are giving up? If it fails, do they want us to cut it down and go for an overall?

Toon: There is opposition.

Kissinger: Any other Administration would follow the same policy, after one year.

Toon: $1.9 billion is not enough. $2.1 billion is enough.

Kissinger: Maybe he will settle. We didn’t mention $1.9 billion.

We should keep Mac better informed. There was a series of meetings. Last week we were overworked.

Dinitz wanted to chisel more on the last day. I was inclined to, but luckily the President didn’t. Rabin would have asked for more.

By political commitments, he means from the Egyptians?

One thing the President won’t do is to give them a veto over our policy. “Consider seriously,” yes.

Sisco: Their negotiating team has no latitude. If a technical team gets together, the document will only get worse.

Kissinger: I am not so eager for everyone to be in the room.

Sisco: There should be a brief checklist of points—in a small group; you and Allon and whoever—and then turn it over to others. The other way would make it worse. The proposal was for a technical team to get together while the Ministerial team is working.

Kissinger: Whatever we sent back, the wise guys here would prove how tough they are.

Sisco: The wise guys are here.

Toon: I didn’t like their idea of waiting to discuss the line until they have the political commitments. The political commitments about Geneva.

Sisco: And second, political commitments about the agreement—boycott, propaganda.

Kissinger: I won’t leave here tomorrow until I have something from them. It was a mistake not to hold out part of the line. Now all the parts of the line to be changed are something they have to give.

[Page 804]

Sisco: We need to settle the line and political commitments.

Kissinger: I don’t need everyone in Alexandria. I could leave Roy.

What are the issues? We must settle the passes. How far back do you think they will go?

Toon: Some back.

Kissinger: To the Hoskinson position?3 They said no. It’s one kilometer.

Toon: Gur’s idea is on the highlands.

Kissinger: How the Egyptians will ever get to that point, I haven’t figured out.

Saunders: Here is a checklist. [He hands him the first day’s checklist.]4

Kissinger: On geography—the passes, the southern area to the oil, and the Beta Line. Will we get the Beta Line?

It’s ridiculous; if every time they withdraw 30 kilometers and the Egyptians advance one kilometer, then when they’re at the 1967 borders the Egyptians have moved six kilometers.

Now I think they are under the necessity of breaking quickly or settling quickly.

Why are they turning everybody out tonight [at the Knesset reception]?

It was one of the warmest receptions at the airport I have seen. [Laughter]

Lord: It reminded me of Peking.

Kissinger: [Laughs] On the first visit! Yes.

To receive the Secretary of State of a country that gives them every screwdriver. No other country would have done this.

Lord: Hanoi maybe.

Kissinger: No, Le Duc Tho5 was very warm. He practically raped me.

We need the passes, the southern line—whatever maneuvers they will do on the road, and the Beta Line. We need to settle Umm Khisheiba and the stations.

Politically, something on boycott, etc.

Toon: Plus the commitments in a Presidential letter.

[Page 805]

Kissinger: They won’t get it.

Sisco: They want a veto on our policy and secondly, a commitment that they won’t be pushed off the Golan.

Kissinger: How can we do it?

Sisco: Henry’s been very firm on that.

Kissinger: We really should make Mac the anchor here.

They asked us for a letter saying we don’t ask them to go off the Golan. I took it to Vail.6 The President said absolutely not. I didn’t recommend it. I was overworked. That is the reason for the screwup [the sending of a draft to Rabin by mistake].7 Scowcroft took it out of the meeting and said “This can go.” I was going to take it up with Dinitz the next day. He meant back to Sisco. Dinitz called me and said the Prime Minister was outraged.

So those are the issues.

Will there be speeches there tonight?

Toon: Probably.

Give me the text [of the arrival statement]. I will use it again. [Laughter]

Saunders: The fact that you gave a prepared text and read it attracted press attention.

Kissinger: Our press—Barry Schweid—won’t understand it until they get the word. And they don’t take it from us! How will they brief the press?

Toon: Through Dinitz.

Kissinger: That isn’t bad. He is for it.

They say Umm Khisheiba will go to Israel. I have never discussed it. We can’t get that without the Beta Line. I told them specifically it wasn’t agreed.

Lord: It is in the Jerusalem Post today.

Kissinger: Where did they hear that? I never said it. [To Rodman] Did I say it to the Jewish leaders?

Rodman: No, you never got into details.

Kissinger: Great patriots they are. The leaders of the American Jewish Congress, or whatever, were asked by the press “What about the agreement?” They said: “Whatever the Israeli Government thinks.” They could have mentioned America once.

Atherton: Actually it was meant as a signal to those who say there should be no agreement.

[Page 806]

Kissinger: Actually Rabbi Miller8 is a nice one.

Rodman: He’s not very bright.

[The meeting broke up.]

Atherton: You need a decision on this [the Hawks for Jordan.]9

Toon: Why?

Sisco: It goes to the heart of our relationship with Hussein, and it was a Presidential commitment. We got it.

Atherton: No thanks to General Brown.

Toon: It means a lot of them here.

Oakley: We promised 22.

Kissinger: We can’t go back on a Presidential commitment.

[The meeting ended.]

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Kissinger Reports on USSR, China, and Middle East, Box 4, August 21–September 1, 1975, Vol. I (1), Sinai Disengagement Agreement. Secret; Nodis. The meeting was held in the Secretary’s Suite (Room 620) at the King David Hotel. Brackets are in the original.
  2. A babbler is an electronic device designed to prevent eavesdropping by producing incoherent fragments of sentences that drown out or overwhelm the voices of those conversing in a room.
  3. A reference to Samuel Hoskinson, a CIA expert on the Middle East. According to Kissinger’s memoirs, ]Hoskinson suggested designating the Parker Memorial (see footnote 3, Document 209) as the eastern end of the Israeli line. (Years of Renewal, p. 451)
  4. The first day’s checklist is not attached.
  5. Le Duc Tho was the chief North Vietnamese negotiator at the Paris Peace Talks.
  6. See footnote 4, Document 214.
  7. See footnote 4, Document 215.
  8. Rabbi Israel Miller, a leading member of the American Jewish community.
  9. A reference to the U.S. Government plan to sell Hawk missiles to Jordan.