43. Memorandum From the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft) to President Nixon1

Secretary Kissinger has sent you the following report from Jerusalem:

“We have reached the crucial stage in the negotiations. The Israeli Cabinet meeting Sunday afternoon will be critical in determining in large measure the direction in which things will take. In my meeting with Mrs. Meir and her closest Cabinet colleagues (Allon, Dayan and Eban) and in a 1:00 A.M. private meeting with her subsequently,2 I once again reviewed the considerations which make it essential that the Cabinet decide on a position that is within negotiating range and that I can present to Asad as such.

“Prior to these meetings, I had spent the entire day with Sadat3 reviewing where matters stand. He was displeased both with the Syrian and the Israeli position. Sadat has a vital stake in the achievement of a Syrian-Israeli disengagement agreement since he fully realizes that to fail at this juncture would not only reverse all the positive trends in the area but would in fact expose him to the radical tendencies in the area which he would be forced to join in one way or another. He believes that if it is possible to secure Israeli agreement to a line that includes some modest modifications in the October 6 line including all of Quenitra he can help mobilize key Arab support and will himself exercise influence also to get Syrian agreement. I suggested that to help achieve [Page 222] this that I send a member of my party, Harold Saunders, to Jidda and Algiers to talk to Faisal and Boumedienne. Sadat agreed and made available a close assistant of his, Ashraf Marwan, who will make parallel efforts in these two capitals.

Sadat made clear that if the Israelis would accept this proposal he would not only support it privately with the principal key Arabs but he would also agree to support it publicly. Moreover, Sadat said that once Syrian-Israeli disengagement is achieved, he is prepared to embark on a serious negotiation with the Israelis on a second phase.

“I described this strategy fully to the Israelis last night as well as Asad’s reactions to other elements of a disengagement agreement, most of which I pointed out are negotiable but would involve a very heavy struggle indeed.

“The decision the Israeli Cabinet must make today is whether I can take an Israeli position to Damascus late Monday night or Tuesday morning4 as close as possible to the above proposition. My impression is that the Israelis will be willing to draw the line so that the Eastern part of Quneitra will be under Syrian Civil Administration with the Western part under the UN. This is insufficient in my judgment. It will even be considered an insult by Asad. If this proves to be the final word at this juncture we will then have to develop a course of action which minimizes the adverse impact on us and at least slows down the probable adverse trend inimicable to our interests. I would then return home fairly quickly.

“Your letter arrived Saturday evening5 as I was meeting with Mrs. Meir and I believe helped immensely in bringing to Mrs. Meir and her colleagues the reality of the situation Israel faces.

“I meet with Mrs. Meir and a larger number of Cabinet members this morning before I go on to Amman, returning to Israel once again on Monday.

“Warm regards.”

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, CL 192, Geopolitical File, Middle East, Peace Negotiations, Israeli-Syrian Relations, Negotiation Books, Volume I, Folder 2. Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. A notation at the top of the first page reads, “The President has seen.”
  2. The conversation between Meir and her colleagues and Kissinger took place on May 4 from 9:30 p.m. to 1:10 a.m. at the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem. (Memorandum of conversation; National Archives, RG 59, Records of Henry Kissinger, 1973–77, Box 7, Nodis Memcons, March 1974, Folder 4) No record of the subsequent private meeting between Kissinger and Meir has been found.
  3. The conversation between Sadat and Kissinger took place on May 4 from 11:35 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Maamura Rest House in Alexandria. (Memorandum of conversation; ibid., Box 21, Classified External Memcons, May–November 1974, Folder 1)
  4. May 6–7.
  5. Document 41.