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

Following is the report of Secretary Kissinger’s meeting yesterday with Prime Minister Meir.

[Page 276]

“I met with Mrs. Meir and her colleagues this evening2 to receive the results of today’s Cabinet consideration. The results were disappointing and my judgment, shared by my whole team, is that the very modest concessions given to us today will prove inadequate to achieve an agreement.

“The Cabinet decided that it would not agree to straighten the line, as asked by the Syrians, nor would they alter the Israeli line to provide some additional villages for resettlement of civilians.

“The Cabinet did agree:

(1) That the division between East and West Kuneitra would be eliminated;

(2) The division in a small village called Ahmadiya in the north would also be eliminated; and

(3) That a small UN zone behind the Israeli defense line around Kuneitra could be established.

“The weakness in this position is:

(1) That the Israeli defense line is still right up against the edges of Kuneitra and, therefore, Assad will feel that it is not possible for Syrian civilians to live in this town; and

(2) That the line was not drawn to include small hills within a couple hundred yards of Kuneitra where anybody living in town would be doing so in the shadow of the Israeli position.

“I once again repeated all the considerations in the broadest sense that were involved, including your message3 about how much the United States has riding on all this in terms of our future relationships in the area and positive trends which failure of this negotiation will negate and then reverse.

“Nevertheless, I will present this Israeli position in the most effective way I know how in Damascus tomorrow. There is a slight chance that after tomorrow Asad will decide that he is so deeply committed to an agreement that he will go through with it anyway.”

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 45, HAK Trip Files, Middle East Memos and Security, April 28–May 31, 1974. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. Sent for information.
  2. The evening meeting between the Israeli negotiating team and Kissinger took place on May 13 from 6:15 to 8:30 p.m. at the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem. (Memorandum of conversation; ibid., RG 59, Records of Henry Kissinger, 1973–77, Box 6, Nodis Memos, March 1974, Folder 2) There had also been a morning meeting on May 13 between the Israeli negotiating team and Kissinger which took place from 10:10 to 11 at the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem. (Memorandum of conversation; ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1029, Presidential/HAK Memcons, May 8–31, 1974, Folder 3)
  3. Document 41.