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Cease-fire Must Include Pow Exchange

October 23, 1973
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Cabinet announced today its unanimous acceptance of the U.S. Soviet resolution calling for an in place cease-fire and the immediate start of peace negotiations in the Middle East. The announcement said that Israel would insist on an exchange of prisoners of war and that it regarded implementation of the cease-fire to be conditional on reciprocity.

The Cabinet decision will be brought to the attention of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and the whole Knesset, the announcement said. Immediately after the Cabinet’s announcement, Premier Golda Meir telephoned opposition leader Menachem Beigin to inform him of the government’s decision, it was reported this morning. The Executive of Likud went into immediate session to discuss the development to try to influence the government’s position in its talks with U.S. Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger who spent several hours here today.

The Cabinet announcement said that under the terms of the U.S.-Soviet resolution the military forces will remain in the positions they occupy when the cease-fire goes into effect. Fierce fighting was reported continuing earlier today on both sides of the Suez Canal. Israeli forces recaptured positions on Mt. Hermon which had been seized by Syrian forces in their initial attack Oct. 6. (See separate story.)


Secretary of State Kissinger landed at Lod Airport this morning on a direct flight from Moscow. He was met by Foreign Minister Abba Eban and U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Keating and went directly to a meeting with Premier Meir. Dr. Kissinger made no statement to reporters who jammed the airport. But he smiled broadly and acknowledged the applause of airport workers and others who witnessed his arrival. A podium had been set up for Dr. Kissinger to make a statement but he avoided it and went directly to his car.

Dr. Kissinger’s stay in Israel was brief. He refused to talk to newsmen when he boarded his plane to return to Washington this evening. In reply to reporters’ questions, he said, “I won’t say anything–I can’t say anything.” He shook hands with Eban and was off.

For 3 1/2 hours the American diplomat held talks with Israel’s leaders. He spoke with Premier Meir, Deputy Premier Yigal Allon, Defense Minister Moshe Dayan and Eban. The former Ambassador to Washington Yitzhak Rabin, was present at the talks which the Chief of Staff Gen. David Elazar joined later.


Both the government and the people were as surprised by the sudden end of the war as by its sudden start. Neither the Cabinet nor the Foreign Ministry had any inkling until late last night that things were moving so fast in Dr. Kissinger’s Moscow talks. Israel believed until that time that while the USSR was increasingly interested in obtaining a cease-fire (as the Arabs military position deteriorated), the U.S. was only mildly interested–and would maneuver to afford Israel at least another few days of action on the southern front.

Throughout the war, Washington had led Jerusalem to believe that it would approve–even appreciate–a sound thrashing of the Moscow-backed Egyptians and Syrians by Israel. The huge American military airlift to Israel seemed the firmest proof of this sentiment in Washington. But Israel’s reading of Washington’s seeming intention was thrown out of focus when news reached Tel Aviv last night of the break-through in Moscow. Soon after, a personal appeal came through from President Nixon to Mrs. Meir that Israel accept the cease-fire once the Security Council voted on it.

The President reportedly argued that world peace–and not just regional stability–was threatened by the war should it go on indefinitely, and in the interests of world peace, Israel and the Arabs must cease the hostilities. (The U.S., of course, was justifiedly confident of Israel accepting the cease-fire since Dayan had declared on Saturday that while Israel would not seek a cease-fire it would feel no need to reject one.)

The change in the American position–the sudden intensification of Washington’s desire for a cease-fire–was explicable, according to observers in Jerusalem, by a hardening assessment in Washington that the war threatened to drag on endlessly.

Although Israel had gained the upper hand and was destroying Arab weaponry, the USSR was replacing it just as fast. Thus, the Syrians today have several hundred tanks in the field which only a week ago were still in Russian arsenals. The Soviet Union had apparently made it plain to Washington that they intended to maintain the flow of arms to the Arabs at the same intensity so long as the fighting continued. (David Landau)

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