Optimism over Resolving Taba Dispute

David Kimche, Director General of the Foreign Ministry, said Tuesday that he was more optimistic than at any time in the past over the prospects of resolving Israel’s border dispute with Egypt over Taba.

Kimche spoke to reporters following talks with an American delegation, headed by State Department legal advisor Abraham Sofaer, who has been trying to mediate between Israel and Egypt. It was the first time in the past 18 months of negotiations between the two countries that the senior Foreign Ministry official sounded so hopeful.

The American delegation continued its talks in Cairo Wednesday where it conveyed Israel’s latest compromise proposals to the Egyptian authorities. Sofaer is expected back in Israel this week or early next week with the Egyptian response.

Israel and Egypt have agreed to submit the Taba dispute to international arbitration. They have yet to agree on the terms of reference of the arbitration panel and its composition.

Premier Shimon Peres told the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Security Committee earlier in the week that the Sofaer mission had some chance of success. He predicted that “A new chapter in relations between Israel and Egypt will open after the compromise has been signed.” He said he has received messages to that effect from Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

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