Egyptian Compensation Announced; U.S. Mediating Taba Negotiations

Israeli officials expressed qualified satisfaction with the compensation Egypt offered Sunday to the six families of seven Israeli tourists shot to death in October 1985 by a berserk Egyptian border policeman at Ras Burka, in Sinai.

There was no official comment, pending clarification of the offer. It is believed to total about $500,000. But since the offer was made in Egyptian currency, without an exchange rate specified, the exact sum is not known.

Officials here estimate that the families of the three adults slain would each receive about $100,000 and those of the four children would get $50,000 each.

The amount is less than the families and government had hoped for, but considerably higher than the very low compensation standards in force in Egypt.

Meanwhile, the Israeli-Egyptian negotiations over Taba are marking time while a U.S. observer mission, headed by State Department legal adviser Abraham Sofaer, seems to be acting unofficially as mediator.

The two countries are trying to reach agreement on such matters as visa requirements for Israeli tourists visiting Taba after Egypt takes possession of it.

Also under discussion are customs and currency regulations, law enforcement, and the location of the final 185 yards of boundary not determined in the arbitration process.

Separate talks are being held on Egypt’s purchase of the Avia Sonesta Hotel and the Rafi Nelson Vacation Village, Israeli resorts built in Taba several years ago.

Israeli legal experts are examining unofficial papers received from Cairo which indicate that the Egyptian Tourism Ministry will be designated to negotiate terms with the Israeli owners.

But nothing official has been received from the Egyptians yet.

They are apparently impatient to take possession of the territory. Nabil el-Arabi, head of the Egyptian negotiating team in Taba, told a U.S. delegation in Cairo over the weekend that Egypt insists on a definite date for the Israeli withdrawal.

He is said to have stressed that there was no connection between withdrawal and the issues still under discussion.

The Egyptians, with Israel’s consent, planned to raise the Egyptian flag alongside the Israeli flag at Taba on Monday morning.

But the ceremony, purely symbolic, did not take place. The Egyptian consul in nearby Eilat could not say why and was awaiting instructions from Cairo.

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