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Egypt Using Pows As Pawns to Force Israeli Withdrawal from Canal Bank

November 21, 1973
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Egypt appears to be using the remaining Israeli POWs in its hands as pawns in a campaign to get Israel to withdraw its forces from the west bank of the Suez Canal. As a deadlock developed between Israeli and Egyptian officers meeting to implement the six-point agreement signed by both sides, Egypt, for the second successive day, failed to adhere to the timetable for the return of Israeli prisoners. A Red Cross plane due from Cairo last night with Israeli POWs failed to arrive. A Red Cross representative said the Egyptians pleaded “technical difficulties” getting the POWs to the airport. The 20 POWs did not arrive until noon today. POWs due yesterday also arrived several hours late.

The Egyptians are clearly hinting that they will bring pressure on Israel through the remaining POWs unless the issue of “disengagement of forces” is settled on their terms. The Egyptians insist that the six-point agreement initiated by U.S. Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger calls for immediate Israeli withdrawal to the Oct. 22 cease-fire lines which would lift the encirclement of the Egyptian Third Army Corps.

Israel, claiming that nobody knows where the Oct. 22 lines are located, has made the counter-proposal of a mutual pullback by both sides–Israel to withdraw from the west bank of the canal and Egypt from the positions in the east bank that it captured in the first days of the Yom Kippur War.

The proposal was flatly rejected by Egyptian Lt. Gen. Mohammed Gemassi at his meeting yesterday with Gen. Aharon Yariv at the 101 kilometer checkpoint on the Suez-Cairo road. Yariv at the same time turned down the Egyptian claim that the Kissinger formula requires Israel to abandon its west bank salient.

It is not expected here that the Egyptians will relent easily in view of a new Arab summit meeting due early in Dec. in Algeria. Cairo is anxious to go to the meeting with some substantial achievement to ward off criticism by the extremist regimes of Libya and Iraq which opposed the cease-fire. (By Yitzhak Shargil)

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