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

Secretary Kissinger asked that the following message be passed to you:

“After seven hours with Rabin today and three with Sadat2 here is where we stand:

“First, with the exception of a few very minor non-fundamental points, the text of the agreement is agreed and for all practical purposes frozen. I am sending you a text.3

“Secondly, there is agreement on the U.S. technical surveillance early warning station system in the area of the passes. This will be made in the form of a U.S. proposal accepted by both sides. It is this element that will be submitted to the Congress for its approval. There will be three U.S. manned stations.

“Thirdly, the map is set with the exception that we will need to get a slight modification from the Israelis on how they have drawn the line through the Giddi Pass.

“Fourth, there is a remaining, serious problem with the Israelis on the kind of arrangements they have in [Page 822] the Abu Rudeis oil field. They revealed to us for the first time that they have fortifications right up against a single road which is along the Gulf of Suez. This would mean that when Egyptian traffic is on this road on alternate days it will be facing Israeli guns within eyesight. This is exactly what the Israelis did in Kuneitra in the Syrian agreement which has prevented Asad from ever repopulating the city. I have made clear to the Israelis that the Egyptians will not accept this kind of situation and they are studying the matter overnight to see what can be done about it. This is clearly an issue on which the agreement could break, Mr. President, because it would fundamentally abridge the principle of free access to the oil fields, to which the Israelis have been committed for a very long time.

“Fifth, there is also the large area of private commitments and assurances. Israel wants us to get the kind of written commitments from Egypt which, in the context of the Israeli leaks, Sadat is understandably very reluctant to give. Moreover the price which the Israelis are demanding on the bilateral memorandum of understanding agreement between us would restrict seriously our freedom of political action in the future, unless the Israelis back off.

“In short, Mr. President, while the agreement is not yet certain, we are very close indeed. I am not certain that this agreement will have the hoped for effect of opening a new chapter of relations between Israel and Egypt. This is because of the ungenerous manner in which the Israelis have negotiated this agreement. Nor do I come away from this negotiation with the feeling that the Israelis have dealt with us as a close and intimate ally working together within a concerted strategy. The experience of the last week has not enhanced the confidence of any of us in the team which is at the helm of the Israeli government. I do not come away with the feeling that the achievement of this agreement will strengthen the fabric of U.S.-Israeli relationships as much as I had hoped. Moreover, there is the consideration that some at home, at least, will be concerned over the $2 billion-plus price tag, the guaranty of an oil supply, and the American presence in the passes.

“Nevertheless, I believe that the achievement of this agreement is in the overall national interest. It is still the best way to buy time and reduce the risk of war in the area; it is still the best way for us to remain relevant to the diplomacy of the Middle East; it is still the best way for us to avoid a steady deterioration of our relations in the Arab world; it is still the best way to keep on an even keel with our allies in Europe on this issue; it is still the best way to reduce the influence of the Soviet Union in the Middle East and it will avoid a domestic confrontation which is more likely in circumstances of a seriously strained American-Israeli relationship.

[Page 823]

“I appreciated receiving your observations on the Middle Eastern situation contained in your recent cable.”

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Kissinger Reports on USSR, China, and Middle East, Box 5, August 21–September 1, 1975, Volume III (2), Sinai Disengagement Agreement. Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. Sent for information.
  2. The memorandum of conversation of the meeting between the Israeli negotiating team and Kissinger, which took place on August 27 from 10:47 a.m. until 4:25 p.m. is ibid., Box 5, August 21–September 1, 1975, Volume III (1), Sinai Disengagement Agreement. No memorandum of conversation of the meeting between Sadat and Kissinger has been found.
  3. The U.S. and Israeli drafts of the agreement, August 28, and an Israel redraft handed over at the meeting of August 28, are attached to the memorandum of conversation of the meeting with the Israeli team. See footnote 2 above.