RHODES (Feb. 24)
The armistice agreement between Israel and Egypt was signed this forenoon at 10:30 in the Hotel des Roses.
Dr. Ralph J. Bunche, the United Nations acting mediator for Palestine, was the first to enter the room where the signing took place, followed by Maj. Gen. William Riley, his chief of staff. Second to enter was the Israeli delegation, headed by Dr. Walter Eytan, its head, and Col. Yigal Yadin, Israeli Army chief-of-staff. Last to appear on the scene were the Egyptians, led by Col. Mohawed Ibrahim Self Eddin and Col. Mohamed Kernel el Bahinant.
The delegates sat facing each other at a square table, at the head of which [were United Nations officials. At 10:30 A.M. sharp, Dr. Bunche struck the table with his gavel, opening the fifth and final joint formal meeting between the disputants. The acting mediator explained the procedure of signing, after which secretaries-entered with five bound copies of the armistice agreement. The first three copies were submitted to the Egyptian delegation, for whom Col, Self Eddin signed; then Dr. Eytan and Col. Yadin signed.
In a second round, the annexes to the armistice were signed, each of the chief delegates signing 24 times with his own pen. The signing procedure took exactly ten minutes, after which Dr. Bunche addressed the delegations. He said in part:
“Important history is being recorded here today. You have now made a significant contribution to the cause of world peace and, for this, the International community of the Near East and the people of Palestine shall fervently thank you.”
The acting mediator expressed his thanks to both delegations for their conciliatory spirit resulting in a “thoroughly worthy, practical and workable agreement. With good will and good faith on both sides, it can and will work. You have both assured me of your sincere determination to insure its effectiveness.”
EGYPTIAN AND ISRAELI DELEGATES LAUD DR. BUNCHE ‘SACHIEVEMENT
The U.N. official was followed by Col. Self Eddin. “At this important moment,” to said, “We thank Dr. Bunche who never lost hope,” He also thanked the community of Rhodes for Its hospitality and concluded with assurances that the armistice agreement would be carried out in all sincerity end good will.
“We signed the agreement and it must be implemented in a spirit of mutual understanding and good will in order to secure the ultimate ends at which the agreement aims. We are hopeful that it will not raise any difficulty and disturb the stability of this part of the world.”
Dr. Eytan followed, sayings “I should like to express our satisfaction with the conclusion of the armistice agreement and with the fact that each has shown an undemanding of the other’s viewpoint. I think everybody will share my view that agreements are fair and honorable for both sides and that it augurs well for peaceful relations between them in the future. I am certain that the armistice provisions will be scrupulously observed and that their scrupulous observance will lead to the densification on a national scale of these friendly relations which we have been privileged to form at Rhodes with the Egyptian delegation.”
Turning to Dr. Bunche, Dr. Eytan added: “If it had not been for your unfailing kindness, your patience, ample fund of constructive ideas and your almost superhuman capacity for hard work, the results of this conference might have been different…we one chapter today but we are confident that this is merely the beginning of a new ##lume in the history of the relations between our peoples and the pacific development of the Middle East.”
ISRAELIS AND EGYPTIANS SHAKE HANDS; RECEIVE SOUVENIRS FROM U.N. MEDIATOR
After the formal signing and the foregoing addresses, Dr. Bunche invited both delegations to remain for Informal conversations. During the informal meeting Dr. Bunche presented the members of both delegations with decorated ceramic plates incited: “Rhodes Armistice Talks, 1949.” After this informal ceremony the members of the two delegations mixed, shook hands and congratulated each other. The Egyptians left for Cairo by plane today and the Israelis are due to leave for Tel Aviv tomorrow.
After the formal and informal meetings were over Col. Yadin held a press conference at which he outlined the military high points of the pact. Beside outlining the various lines of demarcation and areas affected by the agreement, Yadin stressed at the northern part of the Negev was not Included in the agreement since the Jews must reach a settlement in that area with the Trans Jordanians, who are scheduled to here Sunday for the beginning of the next set of negotiations.
The fact of the existence of the state of Israel has been recognized for the first time by an Arab state as a result of Egypt’s signature of the Israeli-Egyptian armistice. The words “Israel” or “Israeli” are used in the agreement at least 13 times. The Egyptian delegate placed his name next to that of the Jewish representative who signed “for and in behalf of the Government of Israel.”
Other major features of the 5,000-word document are: withdrawal of Israeli striking forces from Bir Asluj and El Auja to behind the line from which they launched their Negev offensive last Oct. 14. This point of the agreement gave Beersheba to Israel; Retreat of Egyptian striking forces from the Bothlehem-Habron area to points behind the Egyptian frontier. Evacuation of encircled Egyptian forces and such Arab civilians as wish to leave Faluja. Establishment of a seven-man armistice com-mission to sit at El. Auja to supervise the armistice. The commission will be composed of three men from each side and headed by Brig. Gen. William E. Biley, chief of the U.N. observers staff.