JERUSALEM (Jan. 14)
The Director-General of the Prime Minister’s Office, Avraham Tamir, is expected to go to Cairo this week for initial talks on drafting the arbitration compromise on Taba and also, it is hoped here, on setting up a summit meeting between Premier Shimon Peres and President Hosni Mubarak.
Despite cautions statements by Egyptian officials on the imminence of a summit, Israeli sources close to the Prime Minister believe a meeting between the two leaders is now likely in February.
Yesterday, the Israeli Inner Cabinet resolved to accept in principle that the Taba border dispute between Israel and Egypt be submitted to binding international arbitration as part of a basket agreement to improve bilateral ties between the two countries.
In a subsequent telephone conversation, Mubarak and Peres are reported to have mentioned the idea of a meeting between them, and both of them were reportedly positive on this.
Within the Israeli political community, meanwhile, the two major parties have been vying over whose victory the Inner Cabinet decision was. Likud Ministers, led by Deputy Premier Yitzhak Shamir, assert that their list of amendments were incorporated into Peres’ original proposal to the Cabinet, and therefore the final outcome was substantially improved.
But on the Labor side, the argument is that the amendments were minor and that what chiefly mattered was the Likud’s acceptance — after more than a year of stonewalling — of the principle that Taba’s sovereignty be settled by arbitration. The Likud had insisted that the issue be settled by conciliation, with arbitration to be resorted to only if conciliation failed.