Sadat - Not Golda Meir - rejected deal to avoid Yom Kippur War
Dr. Aaron Lerner - IMRA 3 October 2012 (redistributed September 10 2013)
The following excerpt from "The Rabin Memoirs by Yitzhak Rabin" (pages
215-218) provides solid evidence that Prime Minister Golda Meir was open to
negotiating an Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai before the 1973 Yom Kippur
War. It was Anwar Sadat who opted for war over diplomacy.
...February 28 [AL: 1973], the first day of Golda's visit, can only be
described as a fiasco. She met with Kissinger and again expressed Israel's
willingness to advance toward both an overall settlement and a partial
agreement for the reopening of the canal. But Kissinger's only response was
that "in the absence of any new ideas or proposals, there will be no
progress." Her talk with Acting Secretary of State Kenneth Rush, at midday,
was no more encouraging and only served to underscore the gap between Israel
and the United States on the question of final borders. That afternoon, the
prime minister met with Secretary of Defense Elliot Richardson and Pentagon
officials, but the discussion on arms supplies pretty much ended in an
...Kissinger, who received me at the White House at 7:30 that evening with
an omniscient expression on his face. "I imagine that the prime minister
has had a tough and depressing day," he said in what sounded to me like a
self-satisfied tone. ...he noted that his approach in his talks with Hafez
Ismail of Egypt had concentrated on the principle of "security versus
sovereignty." Translated into pragmatic terms, it meant that Israel would
have to accept Egyptian sovereignty over all of the Sinai but that Egypt, in
turn, would have to accept an Israeli military presence in certain
strategic positions, such as Sharm el-Sheikh (though he hastened to add
that such an Israeli military presence might have to be disguised as a
...I returned to Blair House, harboring the hope that the prime minister's
visit had been saved. Not that it would necessarily be easy to "sell"
Kissinger's idea to Golda. It was, in essence, a radical departure from the
policy that seemed to insist on official border changes while refraining
from stating exactly what those changes would entail. But the fact that the
idea was different certainly did not imply that it lacked merit. The
question before us was whether or not Israel would agree to have the United
States pursue the idea of "security versus sovereignty" with the Egyptians.
Golda readily agreed, so long as it was understood that such explorations
would be undertaken with Israel's knowledge but not in her behalf. I
immediately notified Kissinger...
... In April, Dr. Kissinger continued his efforts to reach an understanding
with Hafez Ismail on the basis of the "security versus sovereignty"
formula, but in May President Sadat rejected the proposal - as he had
earlier rejected the idea of "proximity talks." By then Sadat was already
fully determined to go to war, and he was not interested in exploring any
political solution that was not set out purely on his own terms. ...