General Mohamed Abdel Ghani el-Gamasy served as Chief of Operations for Egypt’s Armed Forces under President Anwar Sadat. He was one of the chief architects of the 1973 Yom Kippur war and a leading negotiator at the Kilometer 101 talks that began in late October 1973. In this interview, Gamasy confirms that Sadat went to war with Israel in 1973 to liberate the Sinai Peninsula. According to Gamasy, the loss of the Sinai to Israel in 1967 hurt Sadat “to the utmost” and ultimately laid the foundation for the October War, which was fought based on Egyptian—as opposed to Arab—nationalism. “The war was not for the interest of the Palestinians,” Gamasy stated, “it was for the interest of liberating our land.” Sadat was not particularly concerned with regaining the West Bank for the Palestinians or the Golan Heights for Syria. The restoration of the Sinai was his priority and the October War marked the first step toward this lofty goal. 

However, Sadat and Gamasy were also acutely aware of the limits of military power. Egypt’s early gains during the war and the “revenge” exacted on Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Dayan notwithstanding, Gamasy’s troops were not capable of defeating the Israeli military or of liberating the entirety of the Sinai through force alone. Accordingly, the objective of the war was always to liberate the Sinai “by military effort and then by diplomacy.” On a “very cold morning” on October 29, 1973, Gamasy was ordered to meet and conduct negotiations with an Israeli delegation, represented chiefly by the retired head of military intelligence Aharon Yariv, near Kilometer 101 in the Sinai desert. These talks were the first direct negotiations to be held between Israel and an Arab state without a mediator present. They had directly negotiated an armistice agreement on the island of Rhodes in 1949, but only through the mediation of the United Nations. 

As the talks continued, Gamasy and Yariv came to develop a mutually respective working and personal relationship. In the interview, Gamasy commended Yariv as “a very fine man” who “knows his stuff very well.” At a more substantive level, the two sides agreed to observe the ceasefire; to exchange prisoners of war captured during the war; and to replace the Israeli checkpoints on the Cairo-Suez Road with UN checkpoints. The negotiations were eventually ended abruptly—short of a military disengagement agreement—when Secretary of State Henry Kissinger insisted that Israeli Prime Minister Meir suspend the talks. This was part of a broader strategic move to relegate the European countries and the Soviet Union to a ceremonial role in negotiations. The Egyptian delegation, including Gamasy, did not realize that Kissinger was responsible for “pulling the rug out from under the two weeks of negotiations” by the generals. They thought “that it had come from the Israelis,” later they learned Kissinger, Gold Meir, and Sadat had unfolded a pre-staged peace conference with the disenagreement outcome ‘pre-cooked.” 

Kissinger was successful at convening the December 1973 Geneva Conference, which acted as a step to the first Israel-Egypt disengagement of forces agreement signed on January 18 1974. Yet this would not have been possible had Yariv and Gamasy not already concurred on the agreement’s core elements. When Kissinger’s advisors began drafting details for the Sinai I accord, the Gamasy-Yariv elements had been transmitted to the Secretary of State.

 Indeed, the Kilometer 101 talks effectively laid the foundation for the breakthrough of January 1974. They differed only in one important aspect. Whereas Gamasy had negotiated for Egypt to station 250 tanks on the east bank of the Sinai, Sadat later agreed to hold only 30 tanks in the area. This was a source of great emotional pain for Gamasy, who recounted “crying” and threatening to resign when he was told of the concession Sadat made at Geneva. In response, the Egyptian President stated that “we are planning for peace with the Americans.” In other words, his compromise on the number of tanks, though derided as a betrayal of Gamasy and his own military establishment at the time, actually served the long-term policy goal of currying the favor of Washington to obtain more favorable terms in an eventual peace treaty with Israel. This was quintessential Sadat. His actions may have been unpredictable and controversial, but they were always directed toward the same imperative. Described by Israeli diplomat Moshe Sasson as a “modern-day Pharaoh,” Sadat drove the negotiation process by sheer force of will. He was not afraid to rebuke his own military commanders—or even the entire Arab world—when convinced that a certain course of action would bring him closer to regaining the Sinai.  

Ken Stein Interview with General Mohamed Abdel Ghani el-Gamasy, Cairo, Egypt, November 10, 1992

KWS: Now, you were minister…what was your title during the ’73 war?

AG: The Chief of Operations of the Armed Forces, the third man in the Armed Forces.

KWS: And the two above them?

AG: Yes, the minister, who is the CNC and then the Chief of Staff and then the Chief of Operation.

KWS: You were Chief of Operation?

AG: Yes, the third one. At the same time, I had another title, the Deputy for the Chief of Staff.

KWS: I see.

AG: But the main job was Chief of Operation, which I like… of the Armed Forces.

KWS: And when did you become the Chief of Operation?

AG: In January ’72, during the first week of that month.

KWS: And when did you begin to understand that the President wanted to take back some of Sinai? When did you begin to learn of his plans?

AG: After I had been appointed in January 1972, I saw all the decrements and what we have here in the department and I had an idea before that. He declared it so many times publicly, that’s a political thing for him. But militarily, we had the impression that something would happen and that there should be another war against Israel to liberate our land. But not the plan.

KWS: Just the idea.

AG: I have the idea and before that I was the Chief of the Training Department for one year before I was appointed for the Chief of Operation.

KWS: Before January ’72?

AG: Yes, one year, during that one year, I knew the concept that they will be crossing, there will be something like that. So, we were training all the troops on the subject.

KWS: For that purpose?

AG: For that purpose.

KWS: And when did you know that the plan would become operational?

AG: In April 1973 because I worked on that. So, I know all about it. I wrote it by myself. I mean, I ran the department. So, I know all that it is about it. But in April, I was sure that there would be a war between Egypt and Israel. I wrote it in one copy, my handwriting. It was sent to President Sadat west of Alexandria, via the CNC who was the Minister of Defense at the time. At the time, we gave him three times suitable for us to start the war from the military point of view so he can take the decision and to play that political role, according to these three times if they are convenient for him. Not convenient, I mean suitable.

KWS: But from your point of view, which three would be the best.

AG: Yes.

KWS: And then he would choose one of three from a political standpoint which would be the best.

AG: Right.

KWS: What were the three?

AG: May.

KWS: ’73.

AG: ’73, or August ’73 or September and October. Both of them are alright with us. So, the three choices: May, August, September or October. But not after that because after October 1973, we knew that the weather would be very bad in the Golan so the Syrians would not be ready or fit for their work. So it must be postponed to 1974.

KWS: How much coordination in the planning was there with the Syrians?

AG: We started and the Syrians had their own plan, separately. And we had our own plan, separately. And we started talking for almost more than 1 year and a half, talking with each other on the political level and on the military level. But it was definite in 1973 because Sadat and Assad were both convinced that there should be cooperation between the two countries. But before that, there was no cooperation.

KWS: There was cooperation that you should both have the same objectives.

AG: We had… both of us had the same objective to liberate our land: the Golan and the Sinai.

KWS: But did you have the objective to liberate all of Sinai and all of Golan?

AG: Right.

KWS: All of it?

AG: Right.

KWS: That was…

AG: Sorry, no. Golan, yes, all of Golan. But in Sinai…

KWS: Yes?

AG: Up to the passes only.

KWS: Up to the passes only?

AG: You know it.

KWS: Yes, up to Mitla Gidi passes.

AG: You are right.

KWS: 65 kilometers.

AG: Right. Why? Because it was our capabilities as of time. From the military point of view we can’t do more than that.

KWS: But you only…

AG: And it was accepted by President Sadat.

KWS: Yet when you crossed the canal, you only went about ten kilometers, correct?

AG: Twelve.

KWS: Twelve kilometers.

AG: From twelve to fifteen. And we stayed there. It was the hold. We call it the operational hold. That is in our doctrine. But I can say that we… that is one of our mistakes that we did in the war.  According to the plan, we were supposed to start the offensive on the 6th of October and then start on the 9th of October moving forward to the Mitla Pass and the Gidi.

KWS: But you didn’t move forward?

AG: We stopped here for a while, for three days, definitely for political reasons I can’t know.

KWS: But you stopped.

AG: But we were stopped by the CNC.

KWS: If you… do you think you could’ve gone?

AG: Right.

KWS: You think the military… you think the missile umbrella would have been sufficient to protect you?

AG: Even not sufficient. You read something about that.

KWS: A little bit, yes.

AG: (Laugh) The Egyptians see at the time.

KWS: Yes.

AG: He made that excuse and publicly he said it. And in the middle of the Armed Forces, he moved around here and there to convince soldiers and officers that it was not a mistake, it was

operationally fit for that, and operationally right.

KWS: But you still disagree with him?

AG: No, up until now. And I wrote a book complete about that war and the Six Day War and all the wars. I started from 19… when I was 17 years old.

KWS: And this book is still published? I can buy it?

AG: Yes.

KWS: It’s in Arabic?

AG: In Arabic.

KWS: Good. And you will give me the title of it when we finish?

AG: I hope you will find it, but I am sure that it will be very, very difficult to find it because we were in need, this year, in need of one copy of this. We found just one copy in one library for a special, for a private thing to do.

KWS: But you have a copy?

AG: Yes.

KWS: And can I make a xeroxed copy of it? In other words, can I photocopy it?

AG: Well…

KWS: I mean, if I give you the money to have it photocopied, can you photocopy it?

AG: No.

KWS: You won’t photocopy it? O.K..

AG: I can’t do it.

KWS: No, no, I can have someone do it.

AG: If you want a copy of it, I can give you one with a promise to give it to me on the second day before you leave Cairo.

KWS: No question. I am coming back in January. And when I come back in January, I will take the time to see you, get it, photocopy it, and give it right back to you.

AG: Alright.

KWS: Wonderful. O.K.. Now…

AG: Because it is the only copy I have.

KWS: I understand. I am a historian and I know how precious one copy is. Now, once you brought, you came to the operational halt.

AG: Yes.

KWS: When did you begin to realize that the Israelis were counter-attacking and bringing their troops across the canal? When did you realize that there was this gap between your second and third armies and that the Israelis were beginning to move in between it? When did you realize that for the first time?

AG: Really there was no gap between the second and Third Army, it became phenomena that we made a big mistake to leave a gap in between the two armies, which is not true. There was no

gap between the two armies. As a military man, and I am sure you know it, if you have an army and another army, or a division and another division, any level, you have to have the two borders cross to each other. Not from shoulder to shoulder.

KWS: They have to overlap.

AG: Overlap by fire or troops, or both and we had that overlap by fire and troops.

KWS: Then how did the Israelis break through?

AG: At the time on the 14th of October, we started moving toward the passes on the 14th. On the 21st, armed divisions and other brigades in other directions. But it…

KWS: The 21st came from the second or the Third Army?

AG: From the second.

KWS: The  Second Army.

AG:  Second Army. And we failed on that day, on the fourteenth. And we lost most of that division, but mainly the tanks. At the time, we knew and it was clear for us that the Israelis will

attack the Second Army after we failed, or the 21st division failed, to make the breakthrough to Mitla and Gidi. The Israelis started making another offensive operation, by armed divisions. One armed division. And that’s on the 14th, 15th. And then on the 16th it was sure that they are making their main effort in the direction, I mean the direction we call it divaroi (???). You know it. That is the gap between the two armies. So it was well-known all over the world, and here inside Egypt, that there was a breakthrough and there is a gap… there is a gap which makes me nervous to hear that thing, at least as the Chief of Operation.

KWS: O.K., let’s see. On the map here, this is the Second Army.

AG: Yes.

KWS: Right?

AG: Right.

KWS: And the Third Army was here?

AG: Right.

KWS: The Second Army was as far as Tasa or just below Tasa?

AG: Below Tasa, yes.

KWS: And then from Tasa onto the south, almost to Ras Sedr.

AG: Right.

KWS: Right? O.K.. And you said to me on the 12th of October that you tried to go from here.

AG: On the fourteenth.

KWS: Yes.

AG: From here in direction of Tasa to make the breakthrough to go to our objective in the passes.

KWS: Gid here?

AG: Gidi. I forget my glasses.

KWS: That’s alright. Um sheba (???) is here, the Gidi pass and then the Mitla pass.

AG: Mitla pass, Gidi pass and here, in the direction.

KWS: But you said that this was done by the Second Army?

AG: Yes.

KWS: But the Second Army was here and the Third Army was here. And the passes were in the area where the Third Army was, no?

AG: Right.The passes… there’s Mitla and Gidi and then another one here, Um sheba (???).

KWS: Right.

AG: Right. So, that line should be a divide by the Second and the Third Army, making the main effort with the Second Army to go to that direction to Um sheba (???). But there are other brigades from the Third Army going parallel to the main effort to these two passes.

KWS: I see.

AG: And there is another one to that… to that area, Rumana (???).

KWS: Rumana (???) on the Mediterranean mode?

AG: Right. So the line goes this way.

KWS: I got you.

AG: We call it, sorry I forget the expression… here the our main objective was here.

KWS: To make that line?

AG: Right.

KWS: I see. Alright, but you are convinced that had you not stopped on the 9th, you could’ve taken the passes.

AG: Right. I am sure of that and the plan says that. And there was just an amendment saying we may stop for a halt or we may not. But we are in favor of not stopping after the 9th of October.

KWS: Because you were afraid the Israelis would be able to consolidate?

AG: Right.

KWS: And they would be able to…

AG: To stop our offensive.

KWS: And your advance by bringing their…

AG: Their reserve troops.

KWS: O.K..

AG: They brought some of their reserve troops on the 8th, and they made the counter blow, but it failed.

KWS: The counter-attack failed?

AG: Yes.

KWS: O.K..

AG: We call it a counter blow, because it is an operational operation.

KWS: I see.

AG: That is not American procedure or military language.

KWS: Terminology.

AG: Terminology.

KWS: I understand.

AG: I know both.

KWS: (Laugh).

AG: Because I was in America some time, and then Russia some time.

KWS: As well. O.K.. Once the Israelis came across the canal.

AG: Yes.

KWS: How much danger was the Third Army?

AG: No danger as far as the Third Army. But after here, up to 22nd of October.

KWS: Yes.

AG: They were located in a small area here in Devisoir, west of Devisoir (???). We call it Devisoir West and Devisoir East. Right in this area. They started pushing forward west with Sharon. Sharon was pushing forward up to go towards Ismailia… and from Ismailia, he can threaten the Second Army and threaten the Third Army.

KWS: So, strategically the control of Ismailia was important for Sharon?

AG: Very important. Very important. And we did our best to stop him here and he failed to do it. He had the chance to succeed in that direction, but he didn’t have the will to do it, or the troops. I don’t know because I don’t want to give… you ask them and they will tell you. But it was a mistake from Sharon.

KWS: Because you think he could’ve taken Ismailia. 

AG: If it was ??? enough two days before because he crossed the Canal on the 17th of October. He tried two or three times.

KWS: Right.

AG: And then he succeeded because he had so many troubles here and he lost so many troops in his in making that…

KWS: Crossing.

AG: Crossing. And I think Dayan wrote in his memoirs how many times… how many he lost from his troops. And he lost the fiercest commanders, company commanders and then second in command, and… Right?

KWS: He lost some very high commanders in this effort.

AG: Right. When he came to that area, he had the choice to go to Ismailia or go downstairs, down to Suez. At the time, he didn’t have enough troops. So he started trying to go to Ismailia where it may collapse easier for him. But it was better defended than the Suez at the time.

KWS: So you say that he made the wrong choice?

AG: I would.

KWS: Does he know he made the wrong choice?

AG: I don’t know because I didn’t read his memoirs. I read only Dayan’s memoirs and Elazar’s. Both of them, I like the way they write.

KWS: They are very smart men. They really, really truly…

AG: And these two you can find in their two books how they wrote faithfully, not a propaganda book.

KWS: You think they were accurate in what they wrote?

AG: Right, right.

KWS: O.K..

AG: I was here in the command forces, and I know what Elazar was doing, what he was doing, and he knows that we are just imagining. But after I read these two books and then your Foreign Minister’s.

KWS: Kissinger.

AG: Kissinger. I knew how this war was tackled in a very good way by Kissinger, or by America, although I don’t like Americans in that.

KWS: Well, obviously. 

AG: (Laugh)

KWS: I mean, it’s quite clear. Don’t forget your coffee, or your tea. Now, when did you get instructions from Sadat to begin discussions with Yariv? How did that happen?

AG: On the 28th of October. It was the Third Security Council 338, and then 339 and 40.

KWS: 340, right.

AG: On the 28th, when the war stopped, there was a message coming from Kissinger saying that there will be… he contacted Sadat and contacted him because they were sending…

KWS: Messages.

AG: Messages every day, especially in the last period. It was more than enough for both sides. And then they came to the conclusion that there is a group of officers from Israel and a group of officers from the Egyptian army that should meet together anywhere, any place in this area. And they choose Kilometer 101.

KWS: Who decided… who initiated the effort for the discussions? Did it come from the Americans? Did it come from the Israelis?

AG: I don’t know exactly and I can’t say who did that effort, but as far as I know, from the Chief of those who were working with Sadat, one of them wrote a book, I know him. He was

an ex commander of the army and I like the way he… I trust him. And he said that there were so many messages between both of them. And Sadat was pushing Nixon and Kissinger to stop the war. And then he approved at once.

KWS: You should meet.

AG: That they should meet. He agreed at once.

KWS: Kissinger agreed at once.

AG: No.

KWS: Sadat.

AG: Sadat agreed at their talks.

KWS: Now, I can tell you that the idea came from Mordechai Gazit.

AG: Mordechai Gazit?

KWS: He was the Director General of the Prime Minister’s office and I interviewed him. I wanted to ask you first before I told you, because I wanted to know if you knew. Gazit went to Golda and said: “Now that this war is over, why don’t we talk directly to the Egyptians?” And Golda said she wasn’t sure she wanted to let that happen and Gazit said: “Well let me draft a cable and you’ll send it to Dinitz and let Dinitz give it to Kissinger.” He gave it to Kissinger and Kissinger wasn’t sure that he wanted to let it happen because he wasn’t particularly keen to have the Egyptians and the Israelis start talk at this point when he wasn’t involved. But he passed the message to Sadat and now, exactly as you say, Sadat immediately said yes. He passed it back to Kissinger and then to Golda. Golda then talked to Sapir and Sapir summoned Yariv and said: “Aaron, we have a job for you. You are going to Kilometer 101 to talk to the Egyptians.” Now that is how it happened from the Israeli side.

AG: Mmm.

KWS: So I hope…

AG: The same thing happened here. On the 28th, when the war stopped, Marshama (???) called me at 5 o’clock in the morning.

KWS: On the 28th?

AG: On the 28th. It became the 29th at the time, the 28th at 5 o’clock.

KWS: It was the 29th already.

AG: Yes, but he called me first on the 28th at 5 in the afternoon, telling me to be ready to go to see the Israelis at Kilometer 101. He told me that we, the Americans, and Israel agreed to make that negotiation. And you are responsible for that. After that, there was a misunderstanding about the timing.

KWS: Now, you said 5 in the afternoon on the 28th.

AG: Yes.

KWS: And then what happened from then on?

AG: And there is a big difference, seven hours between America and here. And it was in the message, as far as I knew from him, that we should meet together at Kilo 101 at 7

in the afternoon.

KWS: On the 28th?

AG: Yes, but it didn’t work because the last voice said I don’t know, and there is no information for him. He didn’t know what is going on because the Secretary General of the United

Nations didn’t inform him exactly what was going on. So, I met…

KWS: Siilasvuo.

AG: Siilasvuo. On the road, the Suez road.

KWS: When?

AG: On the 28th.

KWS: What time?

AG: About seven, seven half something, about seven.

KWS: In the evening?

AG: In the evening. I was going to the area where the Israelis are. So, I found him on the road by mere accident.

KWS: You found Siilasvuo by accident?

AG: Yes, from where are you coming, from the Israeli area. He asked me, “what are you going to do?” I told him that “I have to go there and I have a captain from your office in Cairo with me here to go to see the Israelis and there will be a conference.” He said: “I don’t know. And I came from their headquarters.”

KWS: From the U.N.?

AG: From the Israeli headquarters in the Suez. He didn’t find any indication that there would be a conference.

KWS: Siilasvuo?

AG: Siilasvuo. So then there is no need to go that way because nobody there is ready to meet you. And we don’t know. I, myself, don’t know what was going on. So, I came back.

KWS: You went back to Cairo?

AG: Yes, I came back to Cairo. I told Ahmed what happened. Then after two, maybe two or three hours, through Ismail Fahmy and the political leaders, I don’t know what happened, but they got in contact with Kissinger. And they told me at the time that there was a mistake about the timing in New York. The difference between the time in New York and the Greenwich time and the local time here. So, it will be on the second day at 1 in the morning.

KWS: October 29. The evening of the 28th, 29th, at 1 in the morning.

AG: I went there at 1 o’clock and it was the first meeting with General Yariv at the time.

KWS: Now, but you couldn’t find the Israelis right away.

AG: No, I found them ready to meet me and it was a good shoe for them.

KWS: But you know, they went to Kilometer 106. Did you know that?

AG: No.

KWS: Yariv told me that they went to Kilometer 106 looking for you and couldn’t find you.

AG: That’s what they told me.

KWS: They told you that?

AG: I think he said something like that, but I didn’t care about that.

KWS: Yes, he said we went to Kilometer 106. We thought we were at kilometer 101. We realized that we were in the wrong place. And then he said, “Oh my gosh, the Egyptians are going to be there and they are going to ask where are we? We don’t even know the distance of five kilometers. And he said, and then we went back to Kilometer 101 and he said that at 1 in the morning, you guys met. Would you describe for me how you met him?

AG: We were three Egyptians, including a civilian man.

KWS: Someone from the Foreign Ministry.

AG: We didn’t say that he is from the…

KWS: I know you didn’t say he was, but he was from the Foreign Ministry.

AG: He was. He was.

KWS: Yariv said he was from the Foreign Ministry. 

AG: Yes. He asked me about him. I said he is my consultant.

KWS: (Laugh).

AG: (Laugh) He is my political consultant.

KWS: Lovely (Laugh).

AG: The place where we were supposed to meet each other. It was a tent… not a tent, an armored car and a tank. And between them, the…

KWS: Carpolen(???) was stretched out.

AG: Yes, as we do it… always in the maneuvers. Every army does it. And some seats and a table, a wooden table. The problem was how we would meet them.

KWS: Mmm.

AG: What we will do. Are we supposed to salute as military men or not?

KWS: You thought about this beforehand?

AG: With my colleague. And they asked of me, are you going to shake hands with them or not? Are we supposed to shake hands with them or not? And so many things like that. I said that when we go there, I will be the first man. If I find them standing and saluting, we have to salute. If they will shake hands for us… I mean, if they give us the indication that they will shake hands, we will shake hands. And make it normal. If not, we will salute and that’s all.

KWS: Do you know that Yariv had the same conversation with the people who were with him. And he told his people on the way to Kilometer 101. He said to them: “Remember, these are very proud people. Don’t say anything or do anything that will make the Egyptians feel that somehow we have gotten the best of them because of our success. Under no circumstances are you to do or say anything that sends the wrong tone or impression.” He was very, very sensitive to it. He read from his diary when he told me this.

AG: We did the same thing. And it was a very good meeting because when I went there between these two armored cars and tank, I find Yariv. So, it was just to know who Yariv is. Was he

the assistant or the minister? They had one with that name or the Yariv of the intelligence department in 1967.

KWS: Mmm.

AG: They were in one line, in a very good show. The minute we came…

KWS: They were there when you arrived.

AG: Yes and standing and they saluted. Maybe there were about six or seven officers with him at the time. They saluted and we started saluting him. He started to shake hands with me, and I did the same thing and the rest did the same thing and then we started talking.

KWS: Was the moon out? Was it cold, was it warm? I mean…

AG: It was very cold.

KWS: Was it?

AG: Yes. And that is another thing. When we started talking, I started talking as normal General Gemasy, that is my habit. I didn’t care too much to make any complaint about anything. That is my custom.

KWS: Straight forward.

AG: Straight forward. We started talking about the resolution of the United Nations, the
ambassadors and so to, to make this agreement, disengagement with the troops and this and that, and this and that, and so on. Maybe for five minutes or four minutes. And then Yariv said: “General, you didn’t introduce yourself to us and we didn’t introduce ourselves to you. Let’s talk about that. And I’m sure we are coming here for peace, and we will talk about peace more

important than the disengagement of the troops,” and so on. He’s a very fine man. Excellent. And he knows his stuff very well. We started talking about that and then it was very cold. He asked us if we wanted coffee to drink and I said no. Tea? I said no. So, the cold was very, very severe. He asked if he could get us some coats.

KWS: Jackets.

AG: Jackets. I said no. And that’s all. We started talking about our way, and then we finished at 4 in the morning and came back here.

KWS: What did you accomplish at that first meeting?

AG: We knew each other. No newspaper men, no media at all. We just knew them and they knew us. I said, “why you are coming?” And they did the same thing, because it was just introductory.

KWS: It was a ‘get acquainted’ session.

AG: Yes. The other two, three days we met again and again and again.

KWS: What role did Siilasvuo play? Any role?

AG: No, he was… he had his representative with us during the period until the three tents were established in Kilo 101. One tent for us and one for the Israelis and one for the United Nations. 

Siilasvuo became the representative of the time and he was leading all the conversation, putting the timing and the procedure. And he didn’t interfere at all with our ways. He was helping too much to make it… to make it easy for us to work, but honestly, he was the best we could do at the time.

KWS: And you worked well with one another?

AG: Yes.

KWS: Did Sadat give you instructions? What you could talk about? What you could not talk about?

AG: Ismail gave me the first instructions. On the first day, he told me that you will go to the Israelis for that conference to make the disengagement agreement or talks to keep the troops, the Egyptian troops and the Israeli troops away from each other so that the United Nation can work

between the two.

KWS: In other words, the objective was to separate the troops?

AG: Only the first time.

KWS: And what about other questions like blood, blankets, the control of the highway?

AG: Nothing. But it came through the discussion. We had so many discussions, maybe 17 or 16 or 18, I don’t remember. During the discussion of the disengagement, we…

KWS: You mean disengagement or separation of forces?

AG: Separation of forces.

KWS: There is a difference.

AG: Right.

KWS: O.K..

AG: O.K..

KWS: You wanted to disentangle the armies.

AG: Right.

KWS: The armies were like this and you wanted to get them apart because you wanted to avoid skirmishing, fighting, and shooting.

AG: Right, and the United Nations should work between the two… the two forces.

KWS: While you talked, were there some skirmishes?

AG: Yes.

KWS: Inadvertently, unexpectedly?

AG: Yes.

KWS: Between the sides?

AG: Yes. And I used to go to get the telephone. I have to ask the local commander to stop that thing and he refused to do the same thing. But most of them were from our side.

KWS: And General Magdoub was there?

AG: The first one was Brigadier Awade(???).

KWS: Awade(???)?

AG: He is an intelligence officer, like General Gazit. And then after that, Magdoub came with me. We were three at the time, not two. And during that period some other civilians came with us from the Foreign…

KWS: Ministry.

AG: Of the three mainly, the three: Gamasy, Magdoub and Awade(?), the three of us. We started. I started with Awade, only two, and then we became three at…

KWS: And Yariv was drawn in by Hertzl Shafir.

AG: Shafir and I don’t remember the third one.

KWS: Dov Zion.

AG: Zion? Ah, that’s a relative to Dayan.

KWS: Maybe. Anyway, Shafir and Awade (???) started talking about the return of the bodies. The transfer of the dead.

AG: No, I did.

KWS: You did.

AG: Yes, I did with Yariv. I did it the whole way.

KWS: I see.

AG: Because we didn’t make any… there was no committee, subcommittee between the two sides. 

KWS: I understand.

AG: Yes.

KWS: You did it all.

AG: All of it. All of them and all of us at the same time.

KWS: Did you say the Israelis behaved appropriately?

AG: Yes.

KWS: I mean, anything special about the manner in which were you expecting something different from them?

AG: Yes.

KWS: You were expecting something. What were you expecting?

AG: To be rude.

KWS: And they weren’t rude?

AG: No.

KWS: And they weren’t arrogant?

AG: Not at all.

KWS: And you were surprised?

AG: I was surprised, maybe. I took a good impression about them.

KWS: Did you and Yariv…

AG: And you can ask them the same questions about us.

KWS: I can tell you exactly what they said about you. They held you in the highest regard from the very moment they met you.

AG: Alright.

KWS: I mean, Yariv said that this was a very proud man. And he was delighted to be with a proud man and he had a great respect for what you had accomplished in the war. I mean, he told me. He said: “Here I was sitting with the man who had planned this.” And he said that “this was no small operation that he had planned and he carried it out.” So it’s like a scholar who reads another scholar’s book.  And you have great admiration even though he is your enemy.

AG: Mmm, right.

KWS: You have great admiration because it is a good scholarship.

AG: Right.

KWS: You know, you don’t have to love it. But what he produced was good… was a good production.

AG: Right, right.

KWS: No Americans were there.

AG: Where?

KWS: At Kilometer 101.

AG: After a long period, Kissinger came here in November.

KWS: November 6th.

AG: Yes.

KWS: 6th, 7th.

AG: And he started talking with Sadat, politically. And then with a big group, with him, you know.

KWS: Saunders, Atherton, Sisco. 

AG: All of them. And then he made the shuttle work here and there and then he left us. He accomplished a very important thing in it. He put the six point agreement, you know it.

KWS: Where did the Six Points come from?

End of Side One

Beginning of Side Two

AG: About so many things listed in the Six Point Agreement. But we didn’t come to a decision on that because it is a military decision, a political decision.

KWS: But you discussed these issues.

AG: We did.

KWS: And how did your ideas work their way into the Six Points. See that is what fascinates me. Kissinger presents the Six Points.

AG: Yes.

KWS: To Sadat, but you’ve already been working with Yariv for a week on a lot of these points, which are basically military points.

AG: Right.

KWS: They’re not political points.

AG: Right.

KWS: So you must have brought back to Cairo with you, your minutes or your notes.

AG: I used to give a daily report to President Sadat about what happened at kilo 101. Daily.

KWS: Verbally or in writing?

AG: Verbally and then writing.

KWS: So you went back and you saw him. You went to him and said: “This is what they said…”

AG: Every day, every conference. Every day, we had a conference. Every two or three days we had a conference. I used to tell him what my impression was, what happened and what they

think, the Israelis. How they think. And what can we do if these talks should succeed. So he knows everything about our work and Maere(???) knows everything about our recourse. When

Kissinger came here, Sadat knows exactly what the Israelis were thinking about the situation. And I could get the impression from Yariv and of us how they think. And they did the same thing with us. So Sadat was ready to discuss the matter with Kissinger when he came. But he put some more expressions or details…or not details, we did the details. As he said, I made with Kissinger not an agreement, but it is…

KWS: An understanding?

AG: More that I put in place a strategic plan with Kissinger, how to solve the problem as a whole. And he didn’t say anything more than that. I mean, he didn’t say. He didn’t start working with Kissinger during the first visit talks about the dead bodies and this and that and the Russians and all the things. As far as I knew from here, it took just a little from him. And he was keen to make good relations with Kissinger and I think he succeeded in that and Kissinger succeeded in the same thing.

KWS: With Sadat.

AG: With Sadat. My dear friend, up to that.

KWS: Henry, my dear friend, Henry.

AG: (Laugh) And so on.

KWS: Did you ever talk about politics with Yariv? Did you ever just take him aside when Siilasvuo wasn’t there and stand outside the tent and talk about your own impressions?

AG: It happened, once or twice. And they took a picture for us. The two of us were talking.

KWS: Yariv showed me the picture.

AG: Ah, I’m very pleased. I couldn’t find it.

KWS: Well, if Yariv has another picture, I will get you the copy. 

AG: O.K..

KWS: I will ask him.

AG: I took all these pictures with me, but I tried to get that picture and I couldn’t find it.

KWS: O.K., I will try. Yariv tells me that you did have some political conversations with him.

AG: About what?

KWS: About Egypt.

AG: So just…

KWS: About Egypt’s interests, why you went to war. What your goals and objectives were. That you told him about your attitude toward some of the other Arabs, including the Palestinians. And Yariv remembers the second meeting, and please correct me if I am wrong, but this is Yariv’s recollection to me. He said: “Gamasy and I left the tent, because sometimes we didn’t want Siilasvuo to hear what we were talking about.”

AG: Yes.

KWS: Sometimes it was better for us just to be alone. 

AG: Right.

KWS: Even away from our own advisors and other people in our delegation.

AG: Right.

KWS: Because we could be very frank and candid with one another.

AG: Right.

KWS: He said in the second meeting with him, you talked to him and then you said, “Halasna Philistine.”

AG: Halasna philistine, what do you mean philistine?

KWS: We are finished with the Palestinians. Halasna. I asked Yariv what…

AG: We are finished with the Palestinians?

KWS: Finished, you said to Yariv.

AG: Mmm.

KWS: Halasna philistine. We are finished with Palestine. We did this for Egypt because we want Sinai back.

AG: Ah.

KWS: Now…

AG: I got it now.

KWS: Does he remember correctly or incorrectly?

AG: I think he remembers correctly because we started the war to liberate Sinai. We didn’t do anything for the Palestinians during the war. We didn’t do anything. And the Syrians didn’t do anything. And the Palestinians themselves didn’t participate. So, the war was not for the interest of the Palestinian. It was an interest for liberating our land.

KWS: And you knew when you went to war that you weren’t going to liberate all of Sinai. You knew and you told Yariv that we came to… we started a war in order to get into diplomacy in order to bring the Americans in. That’s how Yariv remembers it.

AG: I don’t think I said that, no.

KWS: No?

AG: No. But as far as I remember, I told him that we couldn’t or we started the war not to liberate the whole Sinai, because we don’t have the capability to do it. But as a result of that war,

we will liberate Sinai, first by military effort and then by diplomacy, which is normal. But about the Palestinians, I think I said it, which was true, and is true up until now. And we can’t say, or I can’t say, that we started the war in 1973 for the benefit of the Palestinians.

KWS: But Yariv interpreted Halasna Philistine to mean you were finished with the Palestinian question. You were finished defending the Palestinians. You, as an Egyptian soldier, were more interested in liberating Egyptian territory and you did not go to war for the Palestinians. 

AG: True, we didn’t go to the war for the Palestinians. We didn’t. Who said that?

KWS: No, I…

AG: But politically, yes, as a result, we can talk about the Palestinians.

KWS: O.K.. I just want to be sure of the distinction. I want to be sure I understood what you said and what you meant, and what he heard.

AG: Right, right.

KWS: Because sometimes what you say and what someone hears are two different things.

AG: Right.

KWS: While you were talking, what were the pressures on the Third Army? Were there severe pressures on the Third Army’s ability to survive? Western media reports, books that have been written, articles suggest that the Third Army was in very, very deep trouble, that the Third Army lacked water, it lacked food and at any moment the Israelis could have choked the Third Army. I have no way of understanding or gauging the degree to which the Third Army was in severe trouble. Tell me.

AG: They made a big row about the Third Army.

KWS: Yes.

AG: I would like to tell you that the Third Army was ready to stay there for a long time, defending this area, and the Israelis tried so many things against the Third Army, it couldn’t. The Third Army had the personnel, the equipment, the weapons and the ammunition.

KWS: And food and water?

AG: And food and water. When we call food and water, we put the food for one week. We call it… we have a name, emergency food or something, not to be eaten except by orders and so on. There was no trouble at all. The trouble it was they tried to go to Suez and then they failed, but they cut the road, the Suez road you know. That was the main trouble for us. But you can ask them how they tried to break through the positions of the Third Army and they couldn’t. And most of the raids, air raids during that period were again, at the Third Army. The Third Army was alright to the last moment. As it was, at the time it was cut from the whole Armed Forces, away from the Armed Forces. That was a bad situation for us.

KWS: But it wasn’t… it wasn’t critical?

AG: No, no.

KWS: It was bad, but not critical.

AG: No, no.

KWS: I mean, the image we have in the West…

AG: I know.

KWS: From Kissinger’s memoirs, from Eban’s memoirs, from people who talk about the ’73 war, they say that the desperate situation of the Third Army made Sadat, or forced Sadat, to negotiate.

AG: I don’t know if Sadat had that impression or not, but he made a conference with us on the 28 of October at night, at ten o’clock at night. He heard the report about the situation in the two armies, and the whole Armed Forces gave him a report about that. After two or three days with him playing the political role, he took that decision for stopping the war without telling us, or at least as far as I am concerned, I didn’t know that the war was stopped. I took the position until the Secretary, one of the secretaries called me and said that President Sadat made a decision that we will stop the war.

KWS: And when did that decision… when did you receive that decision?

AG: On the 22nd.

KWS: Do you remember when during the day?

AG: About 1:00, something like that, because it was announced here and the broadcaster… the news at 2:30, something like that. But for sure he discovered the thing with Ahmadmine(???). It is impossible to take that decision alone, unless he consulted other advisors with him and Ahmadmine(?) at the CNC. They have talked about that, but Ahmadmine(?) didn’t tell me what

happened to him or why Sadat took that step.

KWS: I got you.

AG: Maybe one of the reasons or the factors he discussed with him was the situation of the Third Army. I don’t know, but I am sure that it should be discussed.

KWS: You and Yariv met after the Six Points, from November 6 until November 27 or 28.

AG: Yes.

KWS: You met almost for a full month.

AG: Yes, to put the Six Point Agreement into effect.

KWS: But you also talked politics. You started not only to talk about separation of forces.

AG: Mainly the separation of forces.

KWS: But then you began to talk about disengagement of forces.

AG: What about the separation of… what is the difference between the separation of forces and the disengagement?

KWS: Separation, separation is…

AG: Is this, as you said.

KWS: Right, but disengagement is withdrawal of the forces. You talked about…

AG: We call it the disengagement agreement, the Six Point agreement or the disengagement agreement.

KWS: But there was a suggestion that the Israeli troops go back to the Asian side and the Egyptian troops go back to the African side.

AG: Right. We talked about that, yes.

KWS: Correct?

AG: Correct.

KWS: That is more than just separation of forces.

AG: During the separation of forces, Yariv started talking: “Why don’t we make it this way, we have troops on the Western bank and you have troops on the Eastern bank. Why don’t we make it like this?” And he did it exactly as said.

KWS: Exactly.

AG: I told him that is nonsense. That is our land and that’s our land. You move from the West to the East, but we will never move from the East to the West. And that was just one proposal. And we made so many proposals.

KWS: What other kinds of proposals were there?

AG: I told him you have to withdraw when he said that. You have to withdraw to the borders. To the…

KWS: To the mandate borders.

AG: To our frontiers.

KWS: Gaza to Eilat.

AG: If you start to talk about that, I have to talk about that first. About three or five or six proposals were done at the time for what distance they should move to. If you say that it is a political discussion, no. It is a military discussion.

KWS: Alright, it was a military discussion, but moving the troops further apart from one another and you wanted the Israelis to move to the passes or the international borders. You would have been very happy if they had done that.

AG: Yes. Right.

KWS: Delighted.

AG: Right. But I knew that they will do it, that they will leave the Western bank and go to Sinai.

KWS: What do you mean you knew it?

AG: From the discussion with Yariv. And then with Yariv went to the United States.

KWS: With Golda.

AG: With Golda Meir. And another general came instead of him. He’s a good, very good man. I think he was the commander of armed troops.

KWS: Tal.

AG: I think Tal. I tried to remember. Tal came at the time and he refused to discuss anything we’d discussed with Yariv. And he took me out of the tent and told me, “let’s talk together.” Alright. And we left it. He said, “I don’t have to say anything because Yariv is not here. Yariv was in the United States when he comes back, he will come to you.” And started talking about the future of the discussion between Yariv and me. And I remember as you are in front of me now, on the ground and the sand and we start talking making lines. And then, at the time, he accepted the idea that their troops on the Western bank should move to the East because that is a problem and we will never accept. He said, in case we do it, it will be alright for us, why not?

KWS: Tal said this?

AG: Yes. What are you going to do and so on. So, we started talking about political things, many things.

KWS: Did you start talking about Suez and bringing the people back into Suez?

AG: What?

KWS: As the response to the Israelis withdrawing because Dayan knew that if Suez was repopulated, it was a sign that you weren’t going to war again.

AG: Mmm.

KWS: And you knew that.

AG: Right. But at the discussion, it was a turning point between Egypt and Israel, on the day. But they didn’t know that.

KWS: Who is they?

AG: Tal, when he came and discussed with me and we drew the lines on the sand and this and that. I found that he’s working on the subject. Not only interested in it, but he is a responsible

man there in Israel, in Tel Aviv. I was talking as President Sadat, and he was talking as Mrs. Meir, talking for politics, for military things, for this and that, everything. And I came back on that day and met Sadat. I told him that the Israelis will go to the East. They will go to the East side to Sinai. How come? He was surprised. I told him that Tal was the responsible man, and he said so on, so on, so on and I drew the lines to him and so on. We had the concept from that

time that they will leave the Western bank to the Eastern bank.

KWS: This is before November 6?

AG: November 6?

KWS: Before November 6. Yes, because Yariv is in Washington. Yariv is in Washington October 30, November 1, November 2. Yariv goes with Golda and only comes back on November 5.

AG: November 5?

KWS: Yes and Tal is with you by the third and fourth day. That’s my point, General. My point is that the Israelis already brought to you and you brought to Sadat Israel’s willingness to

withdraw to the other side of the canal.

AG: I’m sure that I had that impression and told Sadat about it.

KWS: Exactly. So when Henry comes, Sadat already has in his head from you because you heard it from the Israelis.

AG: From Tal, mainly.

KWS: Yes, yes.

AG: But I don’t remember the timing.

KWS: Golda was in New York. Golda was in Washington because the biggest problem for her was that she wanted to have the POW lists and she wanted Kissinger to do this.

AG: Mmm.

KWS: And this was absolutely essential. There was nothing more important. She didn’t care about disengagements, separation of forces, Suez, blood, blankets, it didn’t matter to her. One thing mattered to her. Mordechai Gazit said, there is only one thing that was on Golda’s mind. Getting back prisoner’s of war, getting back the dead bodies.

AG: And we knew that.

KWS: I mean, it drove her nuts. It drove her nuts.

AG: But it was good for…

KWS: Because you knew that it drove her nuts, you wanted to drive her nuts some more.

AG: (Laugh) And we knew that was very important for her and for the Israelis, as a concept.

KWS: Absolutely. And it was something that you could hold onto and you did.

AG: And we did, even the dead bodies. The Minister of Defense will keep some dead bodies, telling them that we have them. And then I told Sadat about it. He published it in our Parliament, saying that we still have some dead bodies and I told Kissinger… and I think he told Kissinger about it. And then we handed them over. The big settlement or the military settlement.

KWS: Did you know that Dayan wanted to embarrass Sadat?

AG: To embarrass? Wanted to embarrass? When?

KWS: By releasing the Third Army, slowly. Did you know that he wanted to send the Third Army back to Cairo in yellow school buses?

AG: No.

KWS: That’s what he told…

AG: That would never happen.

KWS: I know.

AG: That would never happen.

KWS: But he wanted to embarrass Sadat because he felt hurt for what you had done to him.

AG: Dayan?

KWS: Dayan was traumatized by what you had done. I mean, he…

AG: Dayan died after that war because he…

KWS: No, he died internally. And he carried this burden with him. You know, for three years afterwards, he stayed outside of Israel on the anniversary of the on the anniversary of the Yom

Kippur war. He wasn’t in Israel on the anniversary.

AG: Mmm.

KWS: Because he was afraid to take public attention, because he knew that people would still blame him as the Minister of Defense.

AG: Right.

KWS: He was… he wanted to seek some revenge. And he thought he could seek revenge.

AG: But we took the revenge from him.

KWS: How?

AG: By the October War. It was a revengeful for the Six Days War. From Dayan, mainly. And personally, from me to Dayan.

KWS: Yes. The six day war really hurt you, didn’t it?

AG: Hurt to the utmost. I was in Sinai at the time. And then I had four wars against Israel. I was listed in the army when I was seventeen years old and left the army when I was General. So the whole period of my life was spent against Israel, doing nothing except wars against Israel. And we were defeated three times. But my generation was defeated during these three wars, three wars. But in the first war, we succeeded. So we got back our prestige from Dayan. And I mean when I say Dayan, I mean Dayan. And just so you know this, I hated Dayan, then Sharon. I hated Dayan, then Yariv, then Bar-Lev. And most of them I know. But they did their work in a good way, alright. Excellent way, alright.

KWS: But you got the last revenge.

AG: Right. And I lifted the army with my head up in front at least in front of my family and inside the country, and often now. Although I am in tension outside the country, I feel that I did something for my country and the civilians know that more than the military, which is again back to Dayan. They called me in Israel from Israel, to make a comment when Dayan died. And I refused. I didn’t want to say anything to hurt the Israelis. There is no need to do that. And to say anything about a dead man. So, I refused. But before that I made some comments about their generals. And they published it. 

KWS: Do you think Kissinger liked what you and Yariv were doing?

AG: Mmm. He didn’t like it. He opposed it at a certain period, and then I asked Yariv during our discussion. I told him that “we started talking about the Six Point agreement and the disengagement agreement again.” And we went outside the tent when they took that picture. We were talking about that. He said, “my dear general, what do you mean by disengagement agreement?” It is listed in the Six Point agreement, that phrase. I said, that means to make the troops away from each other. He said, “no it is a horrible expression.” Kissinger will put the explanation for it and you and I will not be able to do anything about it, until Kissinger says what you mean by that. It was funny. When I came back and discovered that, I said: “That means we will not come to a conclusion unless Kissinger comes back again.” And he came to Aswan. He made the shuttle and then we signed the agreement, on the 17th of January.

KWS: Hermann Eilts.

AG: I think he was not happy about that and I read it in his book or one of the Israeli books that he was not happy. And he said to Meir that “if Yariv thinks that he will be a hero with General Gemasy, I will not accept it because I want to make it an example for other theaters of operation,” something like that. Right?

KWS: Hermann Eilts, the Ambassador, the American ambassador.

AG: Yes, I know him.

KWS: He says that Yariv and Gemasy had worked out the troop and disengagement arrangements at Kilometer 101. But Yariv then withdrew the agreements he had made with Gemasy. Gemasy saw this as Israeli duplicity when, in fact, Henry Kissinger had asked Yariv through Golda to withdraw the military agreement because Kissinger needed the military agreement at a conference. Henry had no political agenda for the conference he had in mind and,

according to Eilts, he did not want to get involved with some of the more complex problems of politics. Henry wanted the military agenda. Henry was afraid that Yariv and Gemasy were going to take the military agenda away from him before he got to Geneva. Therefore, Henry told Golda to tell Yariv: “Tell Gemasy that we cannot go any further.”

AG: Right, right. It’s true.

KWS: So Hermann…. What Hermann remembers is correct? 

AG: Mmm. It’s true.

KWS: Hermann then went on to say that Kissinger “pulled the rug out from under 101.”

AG: Pulled?!

KWS: Pulled the rug out.

AG: Who said that?

KWS: Hermann Eilts.

AG: Hermann Eilts

KWS: He said Kissinger pulled the rug out from 101.

AG: Right.

KWS: O.K..

AG: I said at the time to the newspaper men that we came to a deadlock. I remember that.

KWS: You came to a deadlock. Did you know it was Henry?

AG: Who was responsible?

KWS: Yes.

AG: No.

KWS: You didn’t know at the time that it was Henry?

AG: No, no, no.

KWS: Did you think it was Yariv?

AG: Yes. I thought that it come from the Israelis. Why is there something wrong in their mind? I don’t know what they are planning or what they are doing.

KWS: But later you learned that it was Henry.

AG: Right.

KWS: Describe the shuttle, Henry’s shuttle. Henry came here in early January.

AG: Right.

KWS: Out of the Geneva conference came the military committee, they had big political chats in Geneva, but everyone knew it was a Henry show.

AG: Right.

KWS: It was choreographed, directed, conducted by Henry the maestro.

AG: Right.

KWS: I mean, everyone says that, even the people that worked with him… apparently, the Israeli’s didn’t know that. The Israelis thought that Geneva was going to be a conference where they were going to negotiate. I mean, they were serious. Did you know the Israelis rented a hotel for a year in Geneva.

AG: Why?

KWS: They thought they were going to stay in Geneva and negotiate for a full year with the Egyptians. They rented a hotel in Geneva.

AG: (Laugh)

KWS: They didn’t realize that Henry Kissinger had in his mind that he was going to do this whole thing from his pocket.

AG: Right.

KWS: And they didn’t realize it. So even the Israelis were naive. I mean, if you didn’t know, I can tell you that the Israelis didn’t know everything. And Henry had kept his cards right


AG: Yes, he kept it for himself, yes. He did it.

KWS: Why was Sadat so impressed with Kissinger? What was it about Henry Kissinger?

AG: I think he took the impression that when Kissinger says something, he talks by the name of the United States and the President.

KWS: Ah.

AG: And when he gives any remark, that is a remark of the United States, not Kissinger as a man or as a Foreign Minister only. And I can give you one example.

KWS: Yes?

AG: I took the impression also that he is a very strong man in the United States. As a State Department official, his import, but not to that extent. When he was making the shuttle in January, the Israelis made bad things in the conversation and we did bad things in the conversation through Kissinger. And then he wants to make it successful. He said that “it will be an American proposal, followed up with our discussion.” So Sadat was very happy with that. He said: “Alright, if it is an American proposal, I will accept it, but not from the Israelis. Kissinger is a cunning man, or an intelligent man.” And he said, “yes,” and he came with us outside and wrote a statement to be declared by President Nixon, himself. And he will send this statement to Sadat and Golda Meir. “Do you approve of it?” Yes. And then I think he told the Israelis. On the same day, he sent it to America through his aide. It was declared by Kissinger as said and he came back with the same items he did. So everybody was convinced here that he is a strong man in America, especially when Nixon was in trouble.

KWS: With Watergate.

AG: With Watergate. He is an intelligent man.

KWS: Sometimes I think Sadat did not understand military matters. Sometimes I think Sadat did not know the details. When you agreed on this disengagement, in January of 1974, the agreement was supposed to include 250 tanks on the East bank. And Sadat said 30. Why? I mean what was Sadat trying to do?

AG: The minute he started talking with Kissinger in November, they had good impression with

Kissinger. And then he had in his mind to quit the Soviet Union and be a friend to the United States. So he was making everything, facilitating everything to the Americans, through Kissinger to be in good relations with the United States because he will leave the Soviet Union.

KWS: No, he wasn’t making a concession to Israel, he was making a concession to the United States.

AG: Right. And I oppose that statement which you said about the tanks. I was the Chief of Staff at the time.

KWS: Right.

AG: And in Aswan, we discussed that. And then I was surprised that there was a conference, with Ismail as the head of our conference. I was a partner with him, and Kissinger on the opposite side with…

KWS: Quandt and Atherton and Saunders.

AG: Yes, the group.

KWS: The group.

AG: And he said that I was surprised. I opposed it. I said: “No, it will never happen.” I was surprised that he said “President Sadat agreed about that in the conference.” So, I felt hurt.

KWS: This is in front of the Americans.

AG: Yes, and the Egyptians. I said I can’t defend that the Chief will stop in front of the troops and I don’t accept it. Ismail Fahmy didn’t say a word. And then I blamed myself for being in that conference. I think something happened here like crying or something like that. I went to the bathroom for a while and came back.

KWS: You were very hurt.

AG: Yes. And that’s what Heckel (???)… you know Heckel(???)?

KWS: Mmm.

AG: Heckel wrote it in his book that I cried about that time. But I went back to Sadat after that conference. I told him that I will never accept that and that I think it was the proper

time for me to resign.

KWS: And what did he say?

AG: But honestly I didn’t say either way. He said: “My dear General, we are talking about a long period. You are making… we are planning for peace with the Americans. And the peace will not be hurt by 10 tanks or 30 tanks.” And I said that “if they start their offensive against our troops at the time, we will lose all what we did in the 6th of October war.” He said: “You are the responsive man in front of me. And you did the operation for that war and you have, as the Chief

of Staff, you are responsible if this happens.” I told him, “let’s bring Ahmad Ismael from Cairo to ask him at the CNC because he is the leader and the commander.” He said: “No, I will not let him come. You are responsible in front of me, and it will go. Thirty tanks, thirty tanks. That’s all. To please Kissinger and I think the Israelis were surprised to hear that from Kissinger.”

KWS: They tell me that they were shocked.

AG: They told me that.

KWS: They were shocked to see that happen. I mean, you know…

AG: And I started moving around in the troops to give them what happened about that. I can’t say all the details in front of the soldiers and the officers. I made the concept as it happened in a very good political way for them.

KWS: Diplomatic.

AG: Diplomatic, and so on.

KWS: You, after the disengagement accord, how did you participate in discussions with the Israelis? I mean, after that.

AG: After that when Sadat went on his visit to Jerusalem, you remember that in 1977?

KWS: Yes.

AG: They took a position on both sides, Sadat and Begin, that there should be two committees.

KWS: A military committee.

AG: And political committee.

KWS: They made that decision in Jerusalem?

AG: No.

KWS: In Ismailiyah

AG: In Ismailiyah

KWS: Yes, when Begin…

AG: On the 25th.

KWS: Right.

AG: When Begin… from that moment, I started talking about…

KWS: Damere(???)?

AG: Damere(???), that is one of them, opposite to Magdoub. And Gazit and Howeidi. 

KWS: What do you remember about the Tahar Palace talks in early 1978? Tell me.

AG: That was with Weizman. I wrote it in my book, all I remember of that. And he wrote a book about that. Did you read it?

KWS: I think his book is not very accurate. He remembers things the way he wants to remember them and he puts himself as more important than he really was.

AG: Right (Laugh).

KWS: And he is not a man of detail.

AG: Right.

KWS: I mean, I am being very honest with you. I’ve read the book and I know enough about the detail and I have heard enough from Gazit to know that Weizman’s was like Fahmy’s book. Too

many mistakes. Not just of…

AG: Gazit is a very good man.

KWS: Shlomo Gazit?

AG: Shlomo Gazit, one of the best.

KWS: Brilliant. He’s brilliant.

AG: One of the best.

KWS: He really is extraordinary.

AG: I don’t know what he is doing, what he is doing now.

KWS: He works at the Jaffe Center with Yariv. He’s with Yariv.

AG: He’s working with Yariv?

KWS: Yes, at the Jaffe Center. You should go there once. They would love to have you.

AG: I didn’t visit the Israelis so there is no need to make that visit.

KWS: Would you make the visit? You won’t make the visit.

AG: He invited me, twice or three times. But we didn’t meet at the time, there was no peace between…

KWS: But would you go to Yariv’s in Gazit’s Center and talk?

AG: The problem in this case, I would like to talk to them and I saw Yariv twice when he came to visit Egypt. Did he tell you?

KWS: Yes.

AG: But not Shlomo Gazit. I didn’t see him. I would like to see them, but not in Israel.

KWS: Not in Israel.

AG: Why? Others have the impression that it is a good thing to meet. But there is no need for it. I will lose from that visit.

KWS: Supposing it’s a private visit?

AG: It will not be a private visit the second day.

KWS: (Laugh) I thought maybe I could sneak one by you.

AG: No (Laugh).

KWS: I did not succeed (Laugh). I’m sorry, but you must give me credit for trying.

AG: I met Weizman in Paris.

KWS: Yes, but let me ask you a different question. If we in the United States want to plan a conference on the ’73 war, would you come to the States?

AG: Ah, I would.

KWS: Would you?

AG: I will be very grateful if I can have that invitation.

KWS: O.K., because we are beginning to think about doing one for next October.

AG: Next year?

KWS: Next October is twenty years.

AG: Right, right. And also I am planning to write something again about that war. I think I am old enough.

KWS: (Laugh).

AG: I don’t… I am old enough now. And I hope I can stay till the coming year.

KWS: Do you think Magdoub would come?

AG: Yes.

KWS: He would. Do you think I should speak to Magdoub as well? Should I talk to Magdoub also?

AG: He’s a very good man, you’ll like him.

KWS: O.K.. I’ll do that.

AG: Alright.

KWS: This was terrific. You can tell how much I enjoy it.

AG: Thank you very much.

KWS: Wonderful…when I left the sporting club with General Gamasy.

End of tape