240. Memorandum of Conversation1
- President Ford
- Vice President Rockefeller
- Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
- Rogers Morton, Secretary of Commerce
- Bipartisan Congressional Leadership (list attached)
- Leslie A. Janka (note taker)
- Energy, Turkey and the Middle East Agreement
[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to the Arab-Israeli dispute.][Page 849]
The President: Let me turn now to the Sinai Agreement. I want to point out to you that the Israelis have refused to sign the Protocol to the Agreement2 until Congress approves the U.S. proposal on civilian technicians in the Sinai.
General Scowcroft: That is correct, Mr. President. The Agreement cannot begin to take effect until Congress approves the U.S. proposal.
Speaker Albert: I think the Israelis should have signed immediately. They will build a lot of resentment by trying to pressure Congress in this way.
Senator Scott: We are in executive session today but one group wants public disclosure of all papers. Clifford Case tells me that while there is strong pressure to declassify all of the documents relating to the Agreement, a majority of the Committee would be satisfied with a full disclosure to the Committee members without public release.
Representative O’Neill: The House will probably act next week, but I should tell you that the International Relations Committee is not at all satisfied that it is getting all the answers on U.S. arms commitments to Israel, and they are unhappy that no aid bill has yet been sent up.
The President: I am waiting to send up the aid bill until Congress approves the Sinai Agreement. I am holding up because if the Agreement does not take effect, we will have to totally reconsider our aid to Israel in the context of the absence of an Agreement.
Representative O’Neill: (He read a list of several questions regarding the possibility of the U.S. providing the Pershing missile to Israel. Has it been committed to Israel? How many have been committed? Will it carry a nuclear warhead? Was the Defense Department informed of U.S. plans to provide the missile? etc.)
The President: Tip, let me answer all of those questions for this group. Last September, Rabin came to see me.3 During his visit he presented Israel’s military equipment needs. There were several short-range needs we took care of. They also presented their long-range shopping list, called Matmon B. At that time, we said we could not consider that list. It was premature. After the Sinai Agreement was [Page 850] reached, they resubmitted their list. That list contained the Pershing missile, as did the list presented last year. In our negotiations with Israel on the recent agreement, all we said is that we would study the request for the Pershing. There is absolutely no commitment beyond that.
I think you all recognize that the Israelis are very tough negotiators. They want an awful lot of hardware. We will be make a very detailed study of the Israelis’ arms request and the Pershing missile will be very carefully studied.
The Department of Defense saw the Matmon B shopping list last year, and the Pershing missiles were on that list. We also told the Defense Department that we would be studying all the items on the list.
Senator Scott: Whatever we do for Israel, we should not draw down further our active military stocks. This would endanger our own security and would lead to a public outcry.
The President: That’s absolutely right, Hugh. Orders have been given in the Administration that we are not to draw down our active stocks to provide equipment to Israel. The Israelis know about this. The United States is now procuring new and sophisticated weapons from our manufacturers but Israel will not be put ahead of the United States on the production line. Israel’s needs will not preempt U.S. procurement. They will get what they need from later production after our own needs have been met. The Israelis are very well protected with the weapons they now have. They will not be allowed to jeopardize our security and this has been made very clear to the Israelis.
General Scowcroft: Mr. President, I want to point out that there is some urgency on the approval of the Agreement for two particular reasons. First, the Israelis and the Egyptians hammered out with great difficulty at Geneva a withdrawal timetable. If there is any delay in approving the agreement, this timetable would have to be renegotiated and frankly it may not be possible to do so. Second, Sadat is under great pressure, as you know, from the other Arabs. Further delay by the United States would seriously undercut him because congressional questions about the value of the agreement would make it appear that the Congress agrees with his Arab detractors.
Senator Mansfield: Did you say the military aid request would be delayed?
The President: I will not send up my dollar request until the Sinai Agreement is fully set. It makes a big difference on what figures we send up on whether we have an agreement or not. As I have said, we are taking a gamble on peace, and I feel deeply that our military assistance will be a good investment. I have discussed this with the Jewish leaders and our Jewish Community friends are supportive of the agreement. It is clear to me that the Sinai Agreement is good for the United States as well as for Israel and Egypt.
- Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, CL 282, President’s File, September 1975, Folder 2. Administratively Confidential. The meeting was held in the Cabinet Room at the White House. Attached but not printed is the list of participants.↩
- The protocol, which was negotiated by an Israeli-Egyptian military working group in Geneva, contained details on the new lines, force redeployments, arms limitations, surveillance stations, and other points in the disengagement agreement. The New York Times reported that on September 21 the Israelis agreed to initial but not sign the document. (New York Times, September 21, 1975, p. 1) After further negotiation, the protocol was signed by both parties on September 22. (Telegram 7254 from Geneva, September 23; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files)↩
- See Documents 99 and 100.↩