Israelis, Egyptians Meet Face to Face for First Time Since 1956

A meeting of historic significance for the Middle East took place shortly after midnight today in an improvised shed near the 101 kilometer marker on the Suez-Cairo road, an area held by Israeli forces on the west bank of the Suez Canal. For the first time since the Sinal war of 1956, senior Israeli and Egyptian officers met face to face to discuss a truce. They agreed to meet again but no time was set.

The meeting between Israeli and Egyptian officers was the first outcome of the UN Security Council’s decision to send a 7000-member international peace-keeping force to the Middle East under its auspices. The UN authorized $30 million for the force for the first six months. The implications of this first formal contact in 17 years were submerged in the laconic phrases of the official communique. It said that representatives of the Israeli and Egyptian armies met at 1:30 a.m. under the auspices of the United Nations observers and two subjects were discussed: questions of the cease-fire lines and questions of transfer of supplies-to-the-encircled Egyptian Third Army on the east bank of the canal.

SALUTES, HAND SHAKES AND TALKS START

There was more to it, of course. It was learned that an Israeli unit, acting on orders, prepared the shed, arranged illumination, placed a table and benches and laid out some light refreshments. A small convoy approached the shed from the Egyptian side. The vehicles brought a number of senior Egyptian officers, headed by a Maj. Gen. Then the Israeli cars arrived. The Israeli officers were headed by Maj. Gen. Aharon Yariv, former intelligence chief who is acting assistant to the Chief of Staff. He was accompanied by four other officers serving as his aides.

The two groups saluted each other, shook hands and sat down. A UN observer attended the meeting but did not serve as chairman. The main subject of the two-hour talks was the ways and means of providing non-military supplies to the encircled Egyptian Third Army. The Third Army has a large number of wounded, about 2000 men, who need hospital treatment, and the question of food and water for the Third Army was so urgent that Israel agreed that a 100-truck convoy should pass through the Israeli lines. (By Yitzhak Shargil)

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