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Israeli, Egyptian Teams Begin Work on Implementing Sinai Pact

September 10, 1975
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Israeli and Egyptian working teams met behind closed doors for 45 minutes this morning and again for about two hours late this afternoon to begin the task of drawing up the detailed military protocols to implement the Israeli-Egyptian interim accord in Sinai that both sides signed here last week. The parties are expected to conclude their work within two weeks.

They met today in a secluded room in the Palais des Nations, United Nations headquarters here despite indications yesterday that the first meeting would be an open session with both sides making public declarations as to the historic nature of their undertaking. Israel reportedly wanted an open session in order to thaw the icy formality of last Thursday’s signing ceremonies.

The Israeli group was informed yesterday that Egypt had agreed to a public opening session. But diplomatic sources said today that the Egyptian delegation received instructions from Cairo late last night to insist on private meetings behind closed doors and out of the glare of publicity. The Egyptians reported their instructions to Gen. Ensio Siilasvuo, chief of the UN peace-keeping forces in the Middle East, and to the American observer, Deputy Undersecretary of State Hal Saunders.

The Egyptian team is headed by a ranking military officer, Gen, Taha el Magdoub. The Israeli team is headed by its Ambassador to France, Mordechai Gazit, a civilian. Working under him, however, are three high ranking Israeli army officers, Gen, Herzl Shafir, chief of the General Headquarters Branch; Gen. Avraham Tamir, chief of the Planning Branch; and Col. Shimon Levinson, liaison officer to the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) in Sinai. The Israeli delegation conferred yesterday with Saunders and with Siilasvuo.


At the opening session this morning, described as “businesslike,” the two teams drew up an agenda for their future sessions and planned the routine of their work. The first Israeli withdrawal, prescribed by the interim accord, will be from the Abu Rodeis oilfields in southwestern Sinai.

The Soviet Union and the United States, co-chairmen of the peace conference under whose auspices the meetings are taking place, stayed away from today’s session as they did at the signing ceremony last Thursday. The Soviet Union had said they would not attend because it wants no responsibility for the pact. The U.S. decided to stay away to avoid the appearance of a breach of cooperation with the USSR in the Mideast.

Siilasvuo opened the meeting with tributes to the Israeli and Egyptian governments “which have already demonstrated their determination, wisdom and courage to take risks for peace.” He said the interim accord may contribute to “create the proper framework” which could contain “a comprehensive solution in the whole area of conflict,”

Siilasvuo also stressed that the military working groups could contribute to the search for peace by creating a proper atmosphere, an obvious reference to the chilly atmosphere at the signing. He said the difficulties of the tasks ahead were due “to conflicting perceptions of what constitutes a just and lasting solution.”

Special prayers were offered at the Geneva synagogue during Rosh Hashanah for peace in the Middle East and throughout the world and for the success of the meetings currently taking place here.

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