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Begin Denies Israel Intends to Offer Egypt Areas in South Negev

Premier Menachem Begin said today that there was no foundation to reports that Israel was considering offering Egypt territories in the southern Negev in exchange for the Rafah salient of northern Sinai where Israeli settlements are located. Reports in the press here and from New York and Washington said that such on exchange would be discussed by the joint Israeli-Egyptian political committee which begins its deliberations here Jan. 16.

Speaking to reporters, Begin also denied reports that Israel has received an Egyptian demand for $2 billion in compensation for oil Israel has extracted from Sinai wells since it occupied the peninsula in the 1967 war. President Aswan Sadat of Egypt said in Aswan last week that such a demand would be presented when negotiations reached that siege. Begin’s denial of both reports did not mercenarily exclude the possibility that Israel and Egypt would reach a compromise on territorial issues and compensation, observers noted. Both subjects are expected to be discussed by the joint political committee.