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

The following is a report of Secretary Kissinger’s latest discussions in Israel.

“This has been a difficult day for the Israelis which wound up with forces having to storm a schoolroom to kill three terrorists, but not until after twenty children had been killed by them and about fifty wounded.2

“However, despite this tragic event, I had several talks with the Prime Minister.3 The Israeli Cabinet is meeting in a very late night session with a view to making a further adjustment in their position on disengagement to meet in a substantial way the latest Syrian views. My understanding is that there is a good chance that the Cabinet will agree to a new Israeli defensive line around Quneitra, both north and south, which will go close to 9/10ths of the way to meeting the Syrian proposals for this area.

“You will recall that the latest Syrian position was that the line should be drawn through the peaks of the hills west of Quneitra. The Israeli leadership is making a major effort tonight within the Cabinet to alter their defensive line so that it will be drawn close to the base of these hills and embracing some of the smaller hills north of Quneitra.

“You will recall also from my previous messages that in Asad’s latest proposal he would like to see the Israelis make some further adjustment in the southern part of the line so as to include a number of Syrian villages. I do not expect that the Israelis will be able to make this change, and I believe the reasons they give are both logical and understanding. The Israelis have explained that if they move the line in the south so as to turn over a number of the villages to the Syrians, there is great danger that these villages will become populated with Saiqa Fedayeen. These villages are located on the plains close to a number of Israeli settlements. This would be a made-to-order situation for guaranteeing terrorist incidents of the kind which would place in jeopardy any disengagement agreement achieved.

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“I am encouraged by these developments. I will be meeting with Prime Minister Meir and her colleagues early Thursday4 morning to receive the definitive views of the Cabinet. If the above position is approved, as I hope, I believe I will be carrying a reasonable Israeli proposition to Asad and it will then be up to him to show flexibility and compromise. If we can achieve agreement on the line, I would hope then to make a major effort to try to resolve the remaining issues—zones of limitation, buffer zone, UN presence, etc.

“I will be going to Damascus Thursday afternoon and be returning to Jerusalem Thursday night to bring back the Syrian response.”

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 136, Country Files, Middle East, Dinitz, January 1–July 1, 1974. Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. Sent for information.
  2. See footnote 5, Document 58.
  3. See footnote 2, Document 58, and footnote 3, Document 59.
  4. May 16.