JERUSALEM (Mar. 21)
The Cabinet today endorsed a temporary solution to one of Israel’s border disputes with Egypt. The compromise emerged during the discussions here last week with Egyptian. Foreign Minister Kamal Hassan Ali and in volves about a kilometer of territory in the Taba region near the Israeli port of Eilat.
It is understood that an interim arrangement was agreed to which would allow Israelis to operate a luxury resort hotel complex nearing completion on the Taba coastal strip while negotiations continued with Egypt on ultimate sovereignty over the area. Israel must complete its pull-out from Sinai by April 26 and it is hoped that the other territorial disputes along the 143-mile international boundary will be resolved by that date.
However, Defense Minister Ariel Sharon, who will go to Cairo shortly for futher talks with Hassan Ali, reportedly told the Cabinet today that he would consider no further concessions to Egypt. “We have reached the limit,” he was quoted as saying.
ISSUE OF VENUE OF AUTONOMY TALKS
Premier Menachem Begin reportedly took an equally tough line on the venue of future autonomy negotiations with Egypt. An autonomy session on the experts level, due to have been held today, was postponed by Cairo last night because of Israel’s insistence that the talks be held in Jerusalem.
The issue of Jerusalem has emerged as a source of tension between Israel and Egypt due to President Hosni Mubarak’s refusal to go there during his projected visit to Israel and Israel’s position that he include Jerusalem on his itinerary or not come at all. Ongoing consultations between the two countries have produced no compromise so far though afficials on both sides say the visit will take place.
Part of today’s Cabinet meeting was in closed session as a Ministerial Security Committee. Sharon briefed his colleogues on the tense situation on the West Bank. No details were released. But Begin sent a message of congratulations to the Army for the restraint it exercised during violent confrontations with demonstrators. At the same time, he expressed sorrow over the fatal shooting of an Arab youth by soldiers in El Bireh yesterday. (See separate story.)
Begin instructed all ministers to be present in the Knesset this week to help the coolition ward off expected attacks by opposition factions on the government’s policy in the occupied territories and the budget.