Israelis and Palestinians Try to Resolve Procedural Dispute

After a second morning of futile diplomacy in the State Department corridors, Israelis, Palestinians and Jordanians met again late Wednesday afternoon to exchange proposals for resolving their deadlock over representation.

The dispute arose Tuesday, when the Palestinians refused to sit down with the Israelis unless they could negotiate separately from the Jordanians.

The Israelis insist on negotiating with a joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation, as all sides originally agreed.

But the deadlock did not prevent Israel from continuing separate talks Wednesday with the Syrian and Lebanese delegations.

Details of Israel’s proposal for resolving the dispute with the Palestinians were not made public. But an Israeli spokesman said it would “stay within the framework of a joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation.”

Palestinian spokeswoman Hanan Ashrawi said her side’s proposal would still maintain “the integrity of the joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation.” But she said she could not divulge other aspects of the proposal.

The delegations had met in a State Department corridor on Wednesday morning, as they had done Tuesday, the first day of the second round of face-to-face talks following last month’s opening round in Madrid.

PEACE TREATY WITH LEBANON

Ashrawi dubbed the meetings “corridor diplomacy” but said those discussions had been “transformed into an exchange of proposals” on the procedural dispute.

The Palestinians and Jordanians refused to sit in a conference room with Israel as long as Israel insisted that there be no separate Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Jordanian meetings.

Instead the leaders of each of the three parties sat together on a sofa in a hallway to discuss the matter, said State Department spokeswoman Margaret Tutwiler.

The delegations were expected to meet again at 10 a.m. Thursday morning, said Ashrawi.

Meanwhile, the Israeli negotiators meeting with the Lebanese delegation intend to present a “detailed peace treaty” soon, Israeli spokesman Benjamin Netanyahu announced at an afternoon news conference.

As for the Syrians, Netanyahu reported that there were “substantive” discussions Wednesday, focusing on each side’s interpretation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 242, which calls for the return of land for peace.

Israel insisted that the resolution does not automatically require Israel to return any more Arab lands, while Syria argued the opposite, said Netanyahu, who is top aide to Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir.

Netanyahu rejected a reporter’s characterization of the dialogue as “chilly,” reporting that there were “one or two humorous exchanges” and a “cracking of smiles on all sides.”

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