223. 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 six hours with Sadat today,2 I brought to Rabin tonight a clean text of the agreement3 which in our judgment meets all of the essential points which the Israelis have underscored over the past months. It is a further improvement of the text sent yesterday. However, the reaction was one of caution,4 and it is clear that when we meet again tomorrow morning, we will be receiving additional suggestions from the Israelis for changes, reflecting the maneuverings which are going on within the power structure, and in particular between Peres and Rabin. There is even a chance that they will turn it down.

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“From the point of view of logic, both sides are so far committed that this agreement should be achievable. I regret to say that this remains uncertain, not because of any particular substantive point, but rather due to a combination of factors on the Israeli side comprised of insecurity, inexperience, and domestic maneuvering. Rabin’s statement tonight after we presented the clean text of the agreement, meeting all of Israel’s essential points, was that “he was not blaming anyone” but that his expectations were greater than the political returns which he believes they are getting. There is, of course, the point that Israel is giving up something tangible such as the passes and the oil fields in exchange for less tangible, but no less important, political concessions. Our most optimistic assessments never included the possibility that Sadat would be willing to commit himself in a public document, contrary to the mainstream of the Arab world, against blockades and in favor of cargoes going through the Suez Canal—yet he has done so. He has met another principal Israeli demand—namely, an American technical surveillance presence in the passes. We were quite perplexed by Rabin’s approach tonight—a deep pessimism, in sharp contrast to euphoric pronouncements to the press by Allon last night. We can only assume that Peres is giving him a difficult time and upping the ante, and that he is not sure he can sell the agreement that is emerging to his cabinet—particularly now that Dayan has spoken out against it.

“However, since we have Sadat’s agreement in principle to the American role in the warning stations, we believe Peres’ main political thrust has been met. It is he who has made an American presence in the passes a precondition of the agreement. It is equally clear that Rabin does not like, or at most is ambivalent about, the idea of bringing Americans into the situation, and this view apparently was reinforced tonight when he met with some congressmen and some prominent American Jewish leaders, and in the aftermath of negative statements regarding the American presence by Mansfield and Jackson and a neutral one by Senator Humphrey, who over the years has been one of the firmest supporters of Israel.

“I urged tonight that we try to review the text of the agreement tomorrow and if the Israelis have any changes, that they be kept to an absolute minimum on points of substance. We will also be going over our respective concepts of the warning system in the passes; Sadat has agreed to this on the understanding that he would not enter into a tripartite agreement because it would derogate from Egypt’s sovereignty in the Sinai, but he would be willing to have the concept put in the form of a U.S. proposal to which he would agree as well as Israel.

“There are many other detailed aspects of the documentation which will be most time-consuming, and if there is to be agreement, the [Page 821] earliest initialing which could now take place would be either Sunday or Monday.”5

Warm regards.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Kissinger Reports on USSR, China, and Middle East, Box 5, August 21–September 1, 1975, Volume II (5), Sinai Disengagement Agreement. Secret; Sensitive. Sent for information. A handwritten notation at the top of the first page reads, “Pres. has seen.”
  2. No memorandum of conversation of the meeting between Sadat and Kissinger has been found.
  3. The “clean text” of the draft agreement of August 27 is attached to the memorandum of conversation of the meeting with the Israeli team; see footnote 4 below. An August 26 draft with Kissinger’s handwritten revisions is also attached.
  4. The memorandum of conversation of the meeting between the Israeli negotiating team and Kissinger, which took place on August 27 from 9:45 until 11:48 p.m. at the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem, is in the Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Kissinger Reports on USSR, China, and Middle East, Box 5, August 21–September 1, 1975, Volume II (5), Sinai Disengagement Agreement.
  5. August 31 or September 1.