321. Telegram From the Department of State to the Interests Section in Egypt1

219619. Ref: Cairo 3247. Tel Aviv 7927.2

1. FYI. Rabin interview, although unfortunate in sense that he chose to make it at all at this time and thereby reveal existence of US-Israeli memorandum on ground rules for our role in proximity talks, nevertheless contains essentially accurate description of some points in this understanding. Careful reading of Rabin comments reveals little more than confirmation of well-known tenets of US policy: That (para four second reftel) there will be no Israeli withdrawal without agreement between the two sides, that the US wants to preserve the ceasefire, that US assistance to Israel is to prevent enforced evacuation from the ceasefire lines; that (para five) solution cannot be imposed from outside, but must be negotiated on basis SC Res 242, that gap between two sides on overall settlement is too great to bridge at this juncture (which is why we favor interim agreement as means of facilitating negotiations on overall settlement); that (para six) principal obstacle pres[Page 1084]ently blocking interim agreement talks is question linkage between that agreement and on-going negotiations for final peace settlement (which everybody recognizes); that (para seven) Egypt’s demand for Israeli commitment to total withdrawal as part of interim agreement is “unacceptable” (if “unobtainable” is substituted here this is in effect what Secretary said in his 1971 UNGA speech3 and what we have stressed to Egyptians privately on many occasions subsequently).

2. Problem is created by immediate rush by Egyptian press to distort understanding to fit their worst fears and to cast it in unfavorable light. We see little profit in trying to refute specific distortions that appear publicly; we will, however, be sending you text of line that we propose to use here which you and other posts can also use.4 End FYI.

3. We do not feel you should take initiative to seek appointment for specific purpose of discussing Rabin interview. However, during any future calls you may have with FonMin officials or in any next informal contact, you may draw on following.

4. Begin talking points. Understanding which Rabin refers to in his interview resulted from Israel’s desire for clarifications about US position concerning interim agreement and role USG would play in proximity talks we had proposed. As we told Ghaleb when delivering Secretary’s message to Sadat, delay in obtaining Israeli agreement to proximity talks was largely result of our insistence on retaining freedom of action that would enable US to play such role effectively without being an advocate of either side.5 We are satisfied that understanding reached with Israel at this time does not impair this flexibility. This point was also reaffirmed in talks with Zayyat in October at UN.6

5. We wish particularly to make it clear that certain allegations appearing in the Cairo press are without foundation. On question of linkage between interim agreement and overall settlement, which US regards as a key issue, our views are well known to GOE. We view interim agreement as practical first step that would facilitate negotiations for final peace settlement in accordance with S.C. Res. 242. We do not accept thesis that interim agreement should be end in itself or that there should be no linkage between it and final peace settlement. Secondly, understanding reached with Israelis last winter concerned U.S. role in negotiations on interim agreement talks and did not deal with terms of either interim agreement or final peace settlement. Allegation appearing in one Cairo newspaper that US agreed to support Israel on question location of final borders is without foundation. We went no [Page 1085] further than reaffirming what we have frankly told Egyptians on number of occasions—namely that Israel cannot be expected to agree to total withdrawal to pre-June 5, 1967 lines in context of interim agreement.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 658, Country Files, Middle East, Middle East Nodis/Cedar/Plus, Vol. V. Secret; Nodis; Cedar Plus. Drafted by Sterner, cleared by Atherton, and approved by Sisco. Repeated to Tel Aviv.
  2. Telegram 3247 from Cairo, December 2, reported the negative reaction of the Egyptian press to an interview that Rabin gave to the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv on November 30, and conveyed Greene’s concerns that the Egyptian Government would be “less disposed than ever to pick up the opportunity for talks under US aegis.” (Ibid.) Telegram 7927 from Tel Aviv, December 1, transmitted the translation of Rabin’s replies in the interview, including this comment: “In contacts which have been held lately between representatives of Israel and the US, both in the US and in Israel, it has been clear that there has been no change in the US position. Our clarification talks with the Americans at the beginning of 1972 were even formalized through a written aide-mémoire between the two governments. This aide-mémoire was used and is used today as the agreed policy between the United States and Israeli Governments on all things connected with progress on a political solution regarding the conflict between Israel and Egypt in the Middle East.” (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 27–24 ARAB–ISR) Regarding the U.S.-Israeli understanding on the proximity talks, see Documents 276 and 277.
  3. See footnote 3, Document 255.
  4. Not found.
  5. See Document 276.
  6. See footnote 2, Document 314.