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U.S. Maintains That Jerusalem Law is Not an Insurmountable Obstacle to the Autonomy Negotiations

Refusing to comment on the correspondence exchanged between Israeli Premier Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in which the status of Jerusalem is a central issue, the State Department today said the issue “must be determined in later negotiations.” But John Trattner, Department spokesman, reiterated that Israel’s action proclaiming undivided Jerusalem as its capital is “certainly an obstacle but not insurmountable” in the autonomy talks.

“We would like to move ahead so we can reach the point where we can negotiate” the autonomy talks, Trattner said in reply to a question from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that asked for clarification of the Department’s own view regarding Jerusalem in the West Bank/Gaza autonomy talks suspended by Egypt despite the Camp David agreement.

“There is some sort of common agreement” to discuss Jerusalem “at a later stage,” Trattner said. “Regardless of whether it’s (Jerusalem) in the Camp David agreement, Jerusalem is one of the problems this process seeks to settle.” Jerusalem is not mentioned either in the Camp David agreement or in the Egyptian-Israeli treaty. It is a subject of side letters to the agreement. Egypt’s Parliament on April and July 1, prior to the Knesset proclamation of the Jerusalem law July 23, adopted measures legislating East Jerusalem as Arab.

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