Gur Appointed Commander of Syrian Front; Will Not Return to Geneva

Maj. Gen. Mordechai Gur, head of the Israeli military team that has been negotiating for a disengagement agreement with the Egyptians at Geneva, has been appointed commander of the Syrian front, it was announced here today. Defense Ministry sources indicated that Gur would not be returning to his Geneva assignment but there was no immediate announcement of who would replace him there.

The Geneva negotiators have held six sessions, their last over a week ago, and were to have met again today. It was announced yesterday, however, that further talks have been put off until Jan. 25, apparently in view of U.S. Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger’s current efforts to engineer a top level Israeli-Egyptian agreement on disengagement. The Egyptian negotiators in Geneva returned to Cairo yesterday. The Israeli team which has been home for a week postponed its departure for Geneva when the suspension of the talks was announced.

Sources here said that the military talks at Geneva depend solely on the outcome of Kissinger’s present mission. Both Israel and Egypt agreed to the ten-day postponement and the official viewpoint in Israel is that there is no need for the military talks as long as Kissinger is dealing personally with the basic problems.

There was no indication from official sources as to why Gur was returned to active military duty at this time. Prior to his appointment as chief Israeli military negotiator in Geneva he had served as military attache in Washington and before that had commanded Israel’s northern front.

Gur replaces Maj. Gen. Itzhak Hoffi who commanded the Syrian front during the Yom Kippur War and has now been assigned to General Headquarters as Chief of Operations. Another top level shift in the army announced today was the appointment of Maj. Gen. Avraham Adan, an armored corps commands, to command of the southern front that includes most of Sinai and the front with Egypt on both banks of the Suez Canal. He replaces Maj. Gen. Israel Tal who has been reassigned to General Headquarters where he previously served as Deputy Chief of Staff.

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