222. Memorandum From the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft) to President Ford1

Secretary Kissinger asked that I pass you the following report:

“After seven hours today of tedious point by point negotiation with Rabin and his colleagues followed by three hours tonight with Sadat,2 I can report that we have reduced the gap on most issues, but there are several remaining problems, each of which if not overcome could cause a break.

“The first relates to language in the agreement committing the parties to settle all disputes between them by negotiations or other peaceful means. The Israelis are not satisfied with the present formulation. They want it in two successive paragraphs. Sadat will not go beyond mentioning it once. Sadat shows signs of digging in—perhaps a reflection of increasing criticism of him in the Arab world in light of details leaked by the Israelis. I will make a major effort tomorrow to get a satisfactory formulation.

“Second, is Sadat’s resistance to writing letters giving certain private assurances. This too is attributable in large measure to Israeli leaks. Sadat said he cannot give assurances by letter which the other side will leak; they will be used against him in the Arab world. I will make another hard try on this one tomorrow.

“The third and most serious problem raised by Sadat relates to the early warning system in the passes. Egypt and Israel have agreed on the locations of their respective strategic early warning stations and we are agreed on U.S. presence. Israel wants them established by means of a tripartite agreement including Egypt, Israel, and the U.S. Sadat raised a fundamental objection to a tripartite agreement governing the maintenance and operation of the system and defining our role on the ground. He says the Sinai is his territory, and he cannot agree that Israel has the legal right to enter into an agreement with the U.S. along with Egypt regarding the use of Egyptian territory. We are exploring urgently other possible ways to establish a proper legal basis for the [Page 819] U.S. custodial role of the surveillance system in the passes such as an annex to the agreement coupled with a separate protocol between the U.S. and each of the signatories. My concern is that Peres is locked into the tripartite agreement approach and may well break with Rabin on this issue. Thus the press reports are much too euphoric.

“What I am banking on is that both sides are now so far committed that they will find it most difficult to lose an agreement which is so close to their grasp. Both sides are feeling the pressureRabin on the domestic scene and Sadat within the Arab world—and if there is to be an agreement it must come in the next few days.”

Warm regards.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Trip Briefing Books for Henry Kissinger, Box 12, August 20–September 3, 1975, Middle East, Kissinger Messages to President, August 27, 1975. Secret; Sensitive. Sent for information. An attached handwritten notation reads, “The President has seen.”
  2. The memorandum of conversation of the meeting between Rabin and Kissinger, which took place on August 26 from 10:25 a.m. until 4:38 p.m. at the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem, is ibid., Kissinger Reports on USSR, China, and Middle East, Box 4, August 21–September 1, 1975, Vol. II (1), Sinai Disengagement Agreement. No memorandum of conversation of the meeting between Sadat and Kissinger has been found.