57. Memorandum From the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft) to President Nixon1
Secretary Kissinger has asked that I forward to you the following report.
“I have just completed four hours of discussion with President Asad2 in which I conveyed the latest Israeli proposal with the three new [Page 278] elements of flexibility which the Israelis provided me with after my consultations yesterday. You will recall that these were: (1) Israel is prepared to cede Syrian civilian control and presence in all of Kuneitra; (2) Israel will turn over the high ground which abuts directly on Kuneitra on the north to a UN presence; and (3) Israel will return all of the town of Ahmadiya just north of Kuneitra to Syrian civilian control and presence, rather than one-half as previously offered.
“As I expected, President Asad rejected these proposals and he continues to insist that the Israelis must be out of the large hills west of Kuneitra, that there must be further movement westward in the Israeli line, about 1–2 kilometers and that there must be Israeli withdrawal from the one key remaining position on Mount Hermon. This position, from the Israeli point of view, is essential as an electronic listening post. Asad did suggest that he would be willing for the Israeli defense lines to be drawn through the peaks of the high hills north of Kuneitra with neither side occupying them, but I am confident that the Israelis will reject this since they would see it as affecting adversely their strategic position and it would involve giving up a number of cultivated fields.
“While I will have a further discussion with Prime Minister Meir and her colleagues tonight and tomorrow morning and will return to Damascus for a concluding session tomorrow afternoon, I do not expect the situation to change in any basic way.
“However, I am now convinced that major progress has indeed been made, particularly in our overall relationships with Syria and the other Arab states. The end of this mission will not result in a termination of the talks between the two sides. Asad has agreed that if the mission is wound up tomorrow as expected, he will issue a public statement: (a) praising the efforts of the United States; (b) indicating that progress has been made in the talks; (c) agreeing that the talks should be suspended to give the parties an opportunity to review the situation; (d) agreeing to resume these talks in a few weeks. This will have a profound impact on the attitude of other Arab states. Sadat will undoubtedly take the same line and Faisal will be under heavy pressure to do the same. Most significantly, this kind of a positive statement by Asad assures that there will be no new oil embargo imposed on June 1 when the Oil Ministers convene. And, finally, the atmosphere will be such in this area that it will be propitious for you to take your trip to the Middle East.
“You will recall that we had two objectives in undertaking this mission. The second was to at least make substantial progress. This we have done and in a way in which our overall relationships with the Arabs have been improved and our overall interests both protected and strengthened.