69. Letter From President Nixon to Israeli Prime Minister Meir1
Since the beginning of Secretary Kissinger’s current mission to assist in bringing about a disengagement of forces on the northern front, I have studied carefully the many complex elements of this difficult problem. It is clear that compromise involves terribly difficult decisions—the antagonisms on both sides are deep and are based upon years of mistrust that are not easily overcome. Continued violence makes more difficult the requirement to view this moment in perspective and to recognize how heavily the future peace and security of Israel turns on decisions taken now.[Page 295]
As you know, Madame Prime Minister, the United States has been Israel’s closest friend and ally. Our relationship has endured for more than a generation in a spirit of mutual trust, understanding and concern. It is in this spirit that I read with deepest concern the recent report by Secretary Kissinger that the disengagement talks are in danger of breaking down over the thinning out of zones along the disengagement line as well as other issues which, however important, cannot but seem minor in relation to the severe consequences of such a breakdown.
I am therefore writing this personal message to you in order to insure that you and your Cabinet fully comprehend the detrimental effect of a breakdown or recess of the talks for which public opinion might judge Israel to be responsible. As a very long time personal and official friend of Israel, I urge in the strongest terms the modification of your position so as to avert a cessation or recess of the talks under these circumstances.
After these long and difficult negotiations which you and your colleagues have so wisely pursued and the hopes which have been raised of progress toward a settlement, a setback would indeed be a tragedy. Besides the thwarting of hopes for a major move towards peace, I fear it would lead inevitably to a deterioration of Congressional support, renewed opportunities for Soviet intervention, and massive pressure for a reassessment of United States policy toward Israel. That is an outcome which neither you nor I wish, jeopardizing as it would the ability of the United States to play an active and constructive role in the Middle East and to continue to assist in meeting Israel’s needs.
Madame Prime Minister, in the conviction that we stand at a historic threshold in the search for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East, I urge that you and your Cabinet make a supreme effort to seek a compromise which would permit an agreement on the disengagement of forces on the Golan Heights and enable us to move another step away from strife and bloodshed and toward that peace to which we are both dedicated.
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 136, Country Files, Middle East, Dinitz, January 1–July 1, 1974. No classification marking. A covering letter from Scowcroft to Minister Shalev notes that the letter was delivered to Shalev at 6:15 p.m.↩