Profiles Eliahu Ben-elissar and Meir Rosenne
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Profiles Eliahu Ben-elissar and Meir Rosenne

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Premier Menachem Begin’s selection of Eliahu Ben-Elissar to head the Israeli delegation to the pre-Geneva talks in Cairo expected to begin next Saturday was seen here as an indication that Begin intends to keep those talks under his closest scrutiny.

Ben-Elissar, 45, is Director General of the Prime Minister’s Office, Israel’s No. I civil servant. He is also a trusted political aide and loyal personal friend of Begin. He will be providing the Premier with detailed reports on the progress of the Cairo meeting and will be receiving detailed instructions directly from Begin.

Ben-Elissar should cut an impressive figure in the Egyptian capital. Six-feet tall, slim but broad shouldered with black hair and a meticulously groomed black beard, he is witty, ingratiating and carries himself with dignity. He made friends easily with the Egyptian aides who accompanied Sadat to Jerusalem a week ago.

Politically, Ben-Elissar has always been a Herut loyalist. As a child he was smuggled out of Nazi-dominated Europe by Polish friends of his family. Many of his relatives perished in the Holocaust. Until 1965, Ben-Elissar was an operative of Mossad, Israel’s secret intelligence agency, which kept him out of politics. In 1971 he declared his political preference and became chief of information at Herut’s headquarters.


His second in the Cairo talks will be Meir Rosenne, legal advisor to the Foreign Ministry and an old friend. Both men studied political science at the Paris Sorbonne in the 1950s and both worked part-time at the Israeli Embassy in Paris under Ambassador Jacob Tsur.

Rosenne was born in Rumania and served as Israel Consul in New York in the late 1950s. He was closely involved in the post-Yom Kippur War negotiations and was present at Kilometer 101 where the first Israeli-Egyptian cease-fire was negotiated. He went to Geneva in the spring of 1974 as a participant in the disengagement negotiations with Syria and to Washington in August, 1975 to draft the Israel-U.S. memorandum of understanding prior to the second Sinai disengagement accord.

Rosenne participated in the negotiations with Egypt at Geneva in September, 1975 which resulted in the “military protocol” attached to the second Sinai pact. He also participated in the buffer zone “joint commission” talks with Egypt in 1976 and accompanied Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan at the drafting of the U.S.-Israel working paper on Geneva conference procedures in New York last September. He has been legal advisor to the Foreign Ministry since 1971.

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