JERUSALEM (Mar. 13)
The Israeli and Egyptian teams negotiating over arbitration of the Taba border dispute and normalization of relations are expected to complete their work by the end of the month. The latest round of talks concluded at Herzliya Thursday. A new round will be held in Cairo next week.
Avraham Tamir, Director General of the Prime Minister’s Office who is co-chairman of the Israeli delegation, and Nabil AI Arabi, head of the Egyptian delegation, agreed that some progress had been made but the main problems remain unresolved. One of them is the wording of guidelines that will instruct the arbitration panel on Taba and composition of the panel itself.
Tamir said the negotiations will be concluded within the next two weeks, with or without a comprehensive agreement. In case there is no agreement the delegation heads will conclude that no further progress is possible at the working level and will refer the unresolved matters back to the political echelons of both countries.
The Israeli delegation informed the Egyptians Thursday that Israel has approved the expansion of the Coptic college in Jerusalem. The Copts are members of the ancient Monophysite Christian church in Egypt. Israel also decided to hand over the long term dispute between the Egyptian and Ethiopian churches over the Deir Sultan monastary in East Jerusalem to a ministerial committee.