Israelis Egyptians Continue to Differ on Autonomy-related Issues

The Israeli officials to the autonomy talks in Alexandria returned here today after three days of talks with Egyptian officials and American representatives without apparently reaching any agreement on how much self-rule to grant the West Bank and Gaza Strip Palestinians. According to news reports from Cairo, the Egyptians and Israelis adhered to widely differing positions on this issue.

Meir Rosenne, Israel’s Ambassador to France, who is a member of the autonomy talks delegation, told reporters at Ararat Airport that he has prepared a detailed report of the talks which will be submitted to the ministerial autonomy committee. Rosenne conceded that there were a number of points on which there was no agreement with the Egyptians, but added that “there was progress in the talks.”

The Egyptian and Israeli delegations agreed to meet once again before the end of the month. Some progress reportedly was made in the working group that deals with the elections to the autonomy administrative bodies. A difference remained, however, over the voting age. The Egyptians demanded that the minimum voting age should be 18, while the Israelis want it to be 21.

Meanwhile; the Foreign Ministry denied allegations by Egyptian Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Boutros Ghali that Israel had raised difficulties over providing entry visas for Egyptians. Foreign Ministry officials said they would not enter into a public controversy with Egypt over this subject but noted that there were “substantial differences” between the data provided by Ghali in an interview with the semi-official newspaper Al-Ahram in Cairo and those compiled by Israel.

Ghali reportedly complained that Israel has so far approved only one Egyptian request for an entry visa, that of an Egyptian Jew. Furthermore, he reportedly complained that even the approval of this request took a long time. However, officials in Jerusalem noted that all 57 of 57 visa applications were approved here within a few days.

NEXT STORY