249. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • The Secretary
  • Under Secretary Sisco
  • Assistant Secretary Atherton
  • Ambassador Buffum, IO
  • Jerry Bremer, Notetaker


  • The Middle East

The Secretary: Where do we stand?

Sisco: Simcha gave me their position. They want us to veto any resolution with a reference to the PLO or to the UN resolutions.2 Here is a paper which Moynihan has said that the SYG thinks could work.3 It would end up with a period after “the Palestinian question.” But Malik as Security Council President,4 would say it was decided that the PLO should be heard in January. If it is said as a Council consensus then . . .

The Secretary: We cannot say that.

Sisco: That’s right. We cannot agree. Then we could fall back to a minimum that his statement would say that a majority are in favor of it and we’d say we’re against.

The Secretary: What does Pat think?

[Page 869]

Sisco: I’ve been tough with him. He’s good on it. He thinks we should take it without this sentence. There is one other possibility which is the French idea. That is to refer to all relevant resolutions without specifying which resolutions you mean. Moynihan could then say that we consider only 242 and 338 are relevant.

The Secretary: Couldn’t Malik just say he wants to call attention to the fact that the participation of others in January is a procedural question and not subject to veto?

Sisco: That’s another possibility. He might say that the prevailing or majority view is that. I suggest we tell it to Pat.

The Secretary: Do you think it will work out?

Buffum: Yes.

Sisco: I think so.

The Secretary: Have they begun the debate?

Sisco: Not yet. In January it will be pretty rough though.

Buffum: The Syrians will use this as a major propaganda ploy.

Sisco: Simcha’s statement was that in January the U.S. was to resist any effort to change 242, 338 and to object to any changes in Geneva. Also, the U.S. should object to the adoption of a General Assembly resolution at that time which refers to the rights of the Palestinians. I made no comment.

The Secretary: It would be kind if they would ask a super power every now and then what we wanted to do. What happens then?

Sisco: In January?

The Secretary: Yes.

Sisco: Well, we’ll have an extended debate. There will be 20 Arabs to speak.

The Secretary: We’ll have to veto the resolution.

Sisco: Here’s the text of the resolution we will have to vote no on. It will be reflected in the Security Council in January. (handing resolution to the Secretary)5

Buffum: Yes, that’s the maximum Syrian position.

Sisco: I think this will go on all week.

Buffum: The only question is whether we lobby in capitals.

The Secretary: What’s your recommendation?

[Page 870]

Buffum: I think we should. We have to look tough on this.

Sisco: Why not send a circular out on it? I’ll also ask Moynihan tonight if he feels we’re doing everything on this end that we should do.

The Secretary: No! No! No! He is an Ambassador. He will be treated like a regular Ambassador. He’s a great folk hero at the moment of the Jews, as Jackson was.

Sisco: Your instinct then, if it boils down to the Palestinian question, is that we should go along?

The Secretary: Yes.

Sisco: Is the French formula also okay?

The Secretary: Yes, if we say 242 and 338 are the relevant ones. What are we going to do with those SOB’s in Jerusalem? They will claim we’ve sold out again.

Buffum: No, they’ve been pretty appreciative so far of our work.

Sisco: We’ve been making a good record.6 Dinitz told me tonight he intends to interpret what you said that we are leaning to support the full Israeli position, particularly on the veto. He’s encouraged by what you said.

The Secretary: Now, wait a minute. I said we’ll veto a resolution mentioning the General Assembly resolution and the PLO but not one including the Palestinian question. No. I talked to the President. I have said publically the rights of the Palestinians have to be considered. Do you think I went too far?

Sisco: I hope not. You know how Simcha is. No it’s probably not too far.

Buffum: My question is whether it is vetoable on procedure.

The Secretary: It’s fine with me.

Buffum: If it’s construed as a procedural resolution, for example, if it says “takes into consideration.”

Atherton: How can we veto part of it?

Sisco: You would have to have a vote by division. Then we would consider the paragraph which calls for the reconvening of the meeting as procedural. But “taking into account” really becomes substantive.

Buffum: I’m not sure we could sustain it. Particularly since the reference to the resolution itself is procedural.

[Page 871]

The Secretary: “Taking into consideration” is not badly drafted. We will come to a point where we cannot go on like this. We can’t refuse forever to talk to the PLO.

Atherton: We’d have some job trying to explain to the American public that we vetoed the extension of UNDOF over the PLO.

Buffum: Particularly if it leads to a dust-up on the Golan.

The Secretary: Should we send a message to Asad explaining our problem and saying not to push us to the wall? Say it’s a procedural question. The PLO can participate but does he want us to veto the UNDOF extension or let it stew for a while?

Sisco: If the tactical situation were not so fluid that might be useful, but I have my doubts now.

The Secretary: Where do we stand now?

Sisco: They’re about to reconvene at 7:00 p.m.

Buffum: The Jordanians are pressing us to get going on the West Bank.

The Secretary: How?

Sisco: They are open-minded about the Arab summit, they just wanted to reverse the Rabat decision. It’s a sort of inconsistent position.

The Secretary: The Israelis better get me out of office. I’ll tell you, the next time I’ll finish them. A great power cannot be treated this way. What U.S. national interest is served? We could co-exist with the PLO. It is indeed historically inevitable.

Atherton: The only question now is which PLO. The pragmatic part or the doctrinal part.

The Secretary: It is inevitable. If they’d given part of the West Bank to Jordan last year, we’d have a case. Murphy never got a response from Asad on that. Do you think he tried it?

Atherton: He did. Asad may have wanted to talk to Arafat first about it.

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, CL 346, State Department Memorandum of Conversations, Internal, October–November 1975. Secret; Sensitive. Brackets are in the original.
  2. A reference to UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.
  3. The paper is not further identified.
  4. Soviet Representative Jacob A. Malik was President of the Security Council during November.
  5. A reference to UN General Assembly Resolution 3414, adopted on December 5, which, among other things, called for an invitation to the PLO to participate in UN consideration of Middle East issues and in the Geneva Conference. The United States voted against the resolution. (Yearbook of the United Nations, 1975, pp. 241–242) The Security Council convened on January 12, 1976, to continue the Middle East debate, including the issue of PLO participation.
  6. The U.S. record included votes against UN General Assembly Resolutions 3375, 3376, and 3379 on November 10. Resolutions 3375 and 3376 concerned the rights of Palestinians and the status of the PLO. Resolution 3379 determined that “zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.” For text of the three resolutions, see ibid., pp. 247–249 and 599–600. On November 11, both houses of Congress passed resolutions condemning the equation of Zionism with racism and called for a reassessment of the U.S. relationship with the United Nations. (New York Times, November 12, 1975, p. 1)