Israel, Egypt Sign Accord in Geneva; U.s., USSR Absent from Ceremony

Israel and Egypt signed their second disengagement agreement in the Council Chamber of the Palais des Nations here at 5 p.m. local time this afternoon. The ceremonies were brief, cool and strictly according to protocol with no speeches, handshakes or congratulatory remarks before or after the signings. The two delegations faced each other across a table with Gen. Ensio Siilasvuo, commander of the United Nations peace-keeping forces in the Middle East, seated between them.

The two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, co-chairmen of the Geneva Peace Conference on the Middle East, were absent from the ceremonies. The U.S. announced this morning that it would not attend, although its representative, Deputy Secretary of State Alfred Atherton had already arrived in Geneva for that purpose. He conferred for nearly three hours with the Israeli delegation before the signing ceremonies, apparently to explain the reasons for America’s absence.

The Soviet Union announced earlier that it would boycott the signing because it “wants no part of responsibility” for the pact. Moscow officially informed Syria and the Palestine Liberation Organization of its decision. According to reliable sources, the U.S. decided at the last minute not to attend the signing in order to avoid the appearance of a breach of cooperation with the Soviets in the Mideast. Minutes before the ceremony began, UN officials removed the two tables that had been prepared for the American and Russian delegates.

ABSENCE DOES NOT AFFECT PACT

(A Foreign Ministry spokesman in Jerusalem said today that the absence of the two superpowers from the signing in Geneva has no effect on the validity of the pact. He said that only the two

The Israeli delegation was headed by Mordechai Gazit, Israel’s Ambassador-designate to France, and Gen. Herzl Shafir, of the Army High Command. The fact that Cairo appointed an army officer to head the Egyptian delegation indicated its desire to classify the agreement as “a purely military act,” observers said.

Extraordinary security measures were taken in connection with the signing ceremonies because of the hostility of many Arabs to the interim pact. Not a single Arab ambassador or official of lower rank was on hand to greet the Egyptian delegation when it arrived at the Geneva airport last night. Only the Egyptian Embassy staff was present. Police helicopters hovered over the airport as the Egyptian and Israeli delegations landed at separate times. Police armed with submachine guns lined the roads leading from the airport.

SERIES OF MEETINGS BEGIN SEPT. 9

The Israeli and Egyptian delegations will start a series of meetings here next Tuesday to work out the technical details of the accord, such as the time-table of Israeli withdrawals, the routes of withdrawal and the evacuation of personnel and material by Israel. UN circles said no difficulties were expected and the task of working out the military protocols based on the original draft agreements initialed in Jerusalem and Alexandria Sept. I should be completed within two weeks.

(In Cairo tonight, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat attacked those Arab states that have criticized Egypt’s approval of the agreement with Israel. In a speech broadcast live to the entire Arab world, Sadat said some Arabs “have believed Israeli claims that we have made political concessions and that we have agreed to end the state of belligerence with Israel.” On the contrary, he asserted, Israel has accepted the idea of withdrawing from Arab lands.)

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