Preparations Underway for Deployment of Sinai Force

Preparations are underway for deployment of the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) which will patrol Sinai after Israel’s final withdrawal next April although the composition of the force remains “up in the air” for the time being.

Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir met yesterday with the civilian director of the MFO, Ray Hunt of the U.S. and Norwegian Gen. Frederick Bull-Hansen who will be its military commander. They described to him their preparations for deploying the force on March 20 in accordance with the provisions of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty.

The U.S. is committed to provide more than half of the 2,500-member MFO. The composition of the remainder is not certain, pending final decisions by Britain, France, Italy, Holland, Australia and Canada to contribute personnel. Hunt said those countries could make a very useful contribution to the MFO if they decide eventually to join it, particularly with sophisticated communications and air and sea units.

But Hunt told reporters after meeting with Shamir that the MFO would be able to perform its duties even without the participation of the other Western powers. He said there would be three battallions — an American one based at Sharm el-Sheikh and one each from Fiji and Colombia. Uruguay has also undertaken to contribute troops.

Meanwhile, Israeli and Egyptian military officers, cartographers and legal experts are busy drawing the future international border line between Israel and Egypt after the evacuation of Sinai is completed. It will correspond to the old international border dating from the Ottoman Turkish rule. The experts are referring to maps and documents from that era.

Israeli sources said the border would be marked by more than 100 boundary stones set up at equal distances from Eilat in the south to Rafah in the north.

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