306. Memorandum From HoskinsonSamuelof the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1
- Middle East Settlement Effort
State has sent over for clearance a cable (Tab A)2 intended to smoke out current Israeli views on an interim settlement and the extent to which they might serve as a basis for restarting the Israeli-Egyptian dialogue. Put in Sisco’s terms, we should now go back to Dayan to (1) make it clear we consider his recent remarks “significant,” (2) ascertain whether and to what extent he is speaking for the government and, (3) let him know that we remain available to play a diplomatic role with Egypt if the Israelis so desire.
By way of background, you will recall that last week the Chargé, Zurhellen, invited Dayan over for an informal talk (Tab B)3 during which Dayan made the following major points:
—If Sadat gave up his demand for an Israeli commitment to full withdrawal as part of an interim settlement, Dayan would recommend to Mrs. Meir that Israel drop all previous positions and start again from scratch with the Egyptians.
—While Israel could not retract its position that the final line of withdrawal could not be the pre-war boundary, he would favor putting that issue aside and simply say nothing about an interim settlement. Dayan said there would be a majority in the cabinet for this approach.
—In addition to specifying in an agreement that the “interim solution” was not a final one, there could be “intrinsic conditions” in the agreement militating against the situation becoming frozen. For instance, he could agree to Egyptian forces crossing the Canal into the [Page 1038] Egyptian-held area of Sinai to the extent required for security, but he would not want, in an interim agreement, freedom for full Egyptian army attack elements to cross the Canal. In return, he would be agreeable to Israel being placed under similar conditions in its zone of occupation, thus making it clear Israel was not to be accorded full sovereign rights on its side of the line.
Sisco believes that Dayan’s remarks reflect an Israeli desire to try to build on new developments in the area and to provide Sadat with a politically viable alternative to the military option which Sadat might otherwise be tempted to exercise to put the Middle East back on the U.S. and Soviet front burner. He thinks that the Israelis are also concerned about the possibility that they may soon face a new Waldheim and Egyptian initiative at the UN4 and would much prefer progress on an interim settlement.
If he gets any hint of encouragement at all from the Israelis, Sisco’s next step would undoubtedly be to pass on Dayan’s views to the Egyptians. The purpose would be to test the possibility—unlikely as it may seem—that Sadat would be willing to drop his demand for an Israeli commitment to full withdrawal at the outset, if he learned from us that there was a prospect for the Israelis revising their positions on other aspects of an interim settlement and would give reassurance that an interim arrangement would not become final.
At best, any scenario like this would be a fairly long shot. For one thing, there is no real evidence that the Israelis are all that interested in an interim settlement at the moment and Dayan—as has frequently been the case in the past—may simply be floating a few of his own ideas. Even if the Israelis were serious, it seems unlikely that Sadat is prepared to go this far, especially with nothing more concrete from the Israelis than a promise to start from scratch on all issues but the one most important to him. Finally, there is a legacy of distrust of U.S. efforts like this on both sides of the Canal.[Page 1039]
In short, I feel that any action like this now would be premature, both in terms of our domestic political situation and the situation in the Middle East. If the Israelis really want to pass something along to Sadat they already know we would be willing and would have no need to probe us indirectly. Sadat, for his part, may be looking for us to make a move now that he has expelled the Soviets, but a false step now could well be more damaging than doing nothing and taking a more meaningful step later.
Recommendation: That you call Sisco and inform him that an effort such as this seems premature to you.5
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 658, Country Files, Middle East, Middle East Nodis/Cedar/Plus, Vol. V. Secret; Nodis; Cedar Double Plus. Sent for action. In a covering memorandum to Kissinger on September 1, Haig wrote: “State is again off and running. Hoskinson’s memorandum is exactly right and the cable at Tab A which has been cleared by Secretary Rogers should not be sent.” Haig concluded: “We obviously have another Sisco ploy underway which we must get on top of immediately.”↩
- The draft telegram is attached but not printed.↩
- Telegram 5429 from Tel Aviv, August 21, is attached but not printed.↩
- Bush met with Waldheim on September 7. Responding to the Ambassador’s presentation of the Department’s views about his possible future initiatives, Waldheim said that “any initiative at present time would be useless, in fact, extremely bad.” He remarked that the next year might offer new opportunities but said that he realized that the United Nations could not “simply keep repeating ‘Jarring, Jarring, Jarring,’” particularly because of Israel’s “lack of confidence” in the Special Representative’s “objectivity.” Israel had also indicated to him, he said, that it did not want the “big powers involved in any [Middle East] peace conference.” Finally, he commented that the proximity talks favored by the United States “would make him very happy,” adding that Egypt “made it clear to him” that it was “hoping for more understanding from [the United States] and others following expulsion of Soviets.” (Telegram 3121 from USUN, September 7; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1169, Saunders Files, Middle East Negotiations Files, Middle East—Jarring Talks, September 1–30, 1972)↩
- Attached to a September 5 memorandum from Eliot to Haig is a revised version of the telegram reflecting Kissinger’s concerns regarding the original draft. (Ibid., Box 658, Country Files, Middle East, Middle East Nodis/Cedar/Plus, Vol. V) No documentation on whether the telegram was sent has been found.↩