JERUSALEM (Jun. 29)
After two days of talks between Israel and Egyptian representatives brought together at the Gaza strip by Maj. Gen. E. L. M. Burns, the sessions have not as yet been able even to adopt an agenda because of an Egyptian attitude termed by Israeli circles “as obstinate and ridiculous.”
Joseph Tekoah, director of the Israel Foreign Ministry’s armistice department, who heads Israel’s team in the Gaza discussion, declared after today’s meeting that Gen. Burns had submitted seven drafts of an agenda, but the Egyptians “objected to all of them.”
Gen. Burns, as chief of staff of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization, is trying to get both sides to talk about various proposals to help pacify the frontier along the Gaza strip. “Israel was prepared to proceed with discussions of the various Burns agenda drafts,” Mr. Tekoah said. “Gen. Burns showed great patience and admirable ingenuity under the circumstances in his efforts to get the Egyptians to agree on an agenda. But all his work was of no avail.”
The Israelis and Egyptians left their meeting place–a hut at Kilometer 95 along the Gaza border–after agreeing to include some points on the agenda, but postponed the overall agenda discussion until July 6. Gen. Burns’ office issued a communique which treated Egypt’s recalcitrance with diplomatic politeness. The communique stated: “Due to technical difficulties, it has not yet been possible to formulate a definite agenda acceptable to both parties, who agreed to meet again next week.”
According to Gen. Burns, the items accepted for the agenda thus far are discussions of Burns’ own four-point proposal for easing border tensions, and the possibility of the establishment of a “neutral zone” along the border. The latter plan had been advanced by Egypt. Gen. Burns’ four-point plan includes the establishment of joint Egypt-Israel-United Nations patrols along the border, erection of barbed wire fences, direct contact between local commanders, and a promise by each side that it would use only regular army patrols in the border area.