JERUSALEM (Jan. 16)
The Inner Cabinet appointed an Israeli delegation Monday to negotiate unresolved issues with Egypt, which will soon take possession of the disputed Taba area awarded it by international arbitration last year.
The Israeli team will be headed by Reuven Merhav, director general of the Foreign Ministry.
It will meet the Egyptians at the Avia Sonesta Hotel in Taba, the fate of which will be one of the matters under discussion.
The luxury resort was built by Israeli investors some years ago. It will be sold to Egyptian owners in compliance with Egyptian law. But the Israelis would like to retain a 49 percent interest and continue to manage the hotel.
The appointment of the negotiating team wound up the Inner Cabinet’s discussion of Taba.
The 10-member policy-making group, evenly divided between Likud and Labor ministers, rejected a proposal by Industry and Trade Minister Ariel Sharon to make the return of Taba to Egypt conditional on improved Egyptian trade relations.
Meanwhile, the opposition right-wing Tehiya party will introduce a no-confidence motion on the Taba issue in the Knesset this week.