63. Telegram From Secretary of State Kissinger to the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft)1

Hakto 102. Please pass the following message to the President:

1. I had a four hour discussion with Prime Minister Meir and her Cabinet colleagues on Friday2 which produced some further Israeli flexibility which I will be taking to Damascus Saturday morning for what will probably prove to be a final effort resulting in either a break in the impasse on the question of the line of disengagement or agreement on a pause in the negotiations which would resume in a few weeks.

2. As you know, the principal focus of difficulty remains the line of disengagement as it relates to the area of Kuneitra. Yesterday I went over in detail with Mrs. Meir and her key Cabinet members some American ideas on how to loosen the situation around Kuneitra to ease some of Asad’s concerns that he could not return Syrian civilians there with Israeli forces so closely hemming the city. I had explored in a general way these ideas with Asad on the previous evening,3 and I have now been authorized by the key Cabinet members to put forward an American proposal on the understanding that if Asad accepts it, Mrs. Meir will make a major effort to push it formally through her Cabinet.

3. In substance, the proposal I will put to Asad this morning is the movement of the Israeli line of control west of Kuneitra a few hundred meters outside the city limits, with a demilitarized zone under UN supervision between this line and the big hills west of Kuneitra. On the hills themselves, the Israelis have agreed to limit themselves to light arms designed to meet air attacks but none that could shoot straight into Kuneitra. In addition, in order to give the Syrians more assurance that its civilians in Kuneitra would not be under Israeli guns, the Israelis have agreed to move the line of control one kilometer north and south of the line of Kuneitra.

4. I am not sanguine that Asad will accept this proposal since in a variety of ways in my previous talks with him he concentrated on proposals designed to get Israelis off the big hills west of Kuneitra.

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5. Of course, I hope he will accept this, and I would then press intensively over the next couple of days to complete the agreement. However, if as far more likely, he decides on a breathing period in the negotiations, I will work out with him a statement on suspension of talks which will protect our position in the area, keep manageable for a period of time any Arab buildup of pressures on us, hopefully assure that the June 1 Oil Ministers meeting will not reimpose the embargo, and provide the basis for an early resumption of the talks.

End text.

6. Warm regards.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 45, HAK Trip Files, Middle East, HAKTO 1–179, April 28–May 31, 1974. Top Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only; Immediate.
  2. Kissinger met with the Israeli negotiating team on May 17 from 1:25 until 3:55 p.m. at the Foreign Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem. (Memorandum of conversation; ibid., RG 59, Records of Henry Kissinger, 1973–77, Box 8, Nodis Memcons, May 1974, Folder 1)
  3. May 16. No memorandum of conversation was found.