TEL AVIV (Jun. 9)
Defense Minister Shimon Peres met last night with Gen. Ensio Siilasvuo, commander of the United Nations forces, to discuss Israel’s complaints that Egypt is violating the Sinai disengagement agreements. Peres said after the meeting that he had no indications that the Egyptians were reverting to a war option. But, he added, it was safer to exaggerate the situation than to under-estimate it. He said Israel wanted to let Egypt know it will not ignore violations.
Earlier in the day, Premier Yitzhak Rabin visited Israeli units in Sinai accompanied by Chief of Staff Gen. Mordechai Gur. He said that the Egyptians were generally observing the Sinai agreements but there were violations that must be corrected. He said the disengagement pact entered into by Israel and Egypt in 1975 was still useful and sound.
Nevertheless, Israel has complained three times in recent days to the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) in Sinai about Egyptian violations. The complaints followed reports by UNEF observers that additional Egyptian troops were deployed in the Egyptian limited forces zone. Israel said the troops were in excess of the number allowed under the agreements and that Egypt has also installed SAM-7 ground-to-air missiles in Sinai in violation of the pact.
Peres said the impression was that Israel was dealing with a moderate adversary but the fact is that Egypt is violating the agreements. He said that even the Syrians were more careful in observing the provisions of the disengagement agreements on the Golan Heights.
Siilasvuo, who just returned from a meeting with the Egyptian War Minister in Cairo, confirmed the Israeli complaint and said “We are trying to bring the number of troops back to the agreed limitation.” But Siilasvuo said there was no war atmosphere in Egypt. He noted that the town of Ismailia on the Suez Canal was making preparations for a visit by President Anwar Sadat.