Autonomy Delegation Returns

The Israeli delegation to the autonomy talks in Alexandria returned this evening to Israel, saying the second day of the talks today was much better than the first one. The first day was marked by bitter clashes between the Israeli and Egyptian delegations over the Israel Cabinet decision to allow Israeli private citizens to purchase land in the occupied territories.

Progress, however, was reportedly made on the issue of elections for the autonomy administrative council. The Israelis and the Egyptians were reportedly approaching on agreement on a system of elections which would allow candidates to run on a single ticket in their respective regions, thus avoiding any political lists.

Thus, the talks today were held in a better atmosphere, with Israel’s Justice Minister Shmuel Tamir working out a generally phrased concluding statement which actually repeated elements already agreed on in the Camp David accords.

The parties agreed to work together toward achieving three goals: full autonomy; autonomy for the residents of the territories (Israel insisted on stressing this element, because of her line that the proposed autonomy applies to the citizens, not the territory); stressing in the future in speaking of self-government it will mean the administrative council. A joint communique published today at a joint press conference of the two delegations in Alexandria said “positive progress” was made in the talks. Observers in Jerusalem saw the Alexandria talks as yet another contribution to keep the peace momentum going, although no real breakthrough on autonomy is in sight. (By Gil Sedan)

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