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

The following is Secretary Kissinger’s report of his discussions Friday in Israel:

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“I have completed hours of discussions here in Israel with Prime Minister Meir and her key cabinet members2 as a prelude to my final effort tomorrow in Damascus to bring about an agreement. I remain doubtful that the remaining issues can be resolved. For one thing, this situation is different than the Egyptian-Israeli disengagement agreement. In that instance Sadat in particular had made a fundamental decision not to permit marginal details to sidetrack the agreement. In this particular negotiation, both sides are negotiating hard and tenaciously on every principal specific point, a reflection of the deep suspicion that exists between them.

Assad sees disengagement as a pause that will retain for him either the war or the peace option and therefore is negotiating doggedly to give him an agreement with as much flexibility as possible to move either way.

“The discussions now are focusing on individual specific details, no one of which should be a breaking point, but when taken together as a group could require weeks more of negotiations unless more flexibility will develop in the next 24 hours. Without getting too technical, here are some examples: In the ten kilometer disengagement zone Israel is insisting on no artillery while Syria insists on 54 short-range artillery pieces. The numbers are also at issue. In the 10 to 25 kilometer area Assad refuses to agree to any limitation on military personnel or tanks which the Israelis want. We have his agreement to position SAMs and long-range artillery outside the zone. Assad is insisting that his defense line be advanced more westward than where it is presently placed. Israel is giving us a new map tonight moving the line westward, but whether this will be enough for Assad or not is problematical. Ironically, with all of the difficulties the Israelis have had in the past with the UN, it is pressing for a much more effective UN presence both in numbers and in mandate than Assad seems willing to allow at the present.

“There are a number of other similar issues which I will also seek to sort out in a climactic effort tomorrow. I will report promptly after my meeting with Assad.”

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, CL 155, Geopolitical File, Israel, May 1974. Secret; Sensitive; Eyes only.
  2. On Friday, May 24, Kissinger met with the Israeli negotiating team from 9:50 a.m. until 12:40 p.m. at the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem (memorandum of conversation; National Archives, RG 59, Records of Henry Kissinger, 1973–77, Box 8, Nodis Memcons, May 1974, Folder 9) and with Prime Minister Meir from 5:25 until 7:30 p.m. at the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem (memorandum of conversation; ibid.).