Palestinians Give Mixed Signals on Israeli Conditions for Talks

The Palestinians are giving mixed signals about whether they are ready to accept Israeli conditions for participating in all five working groups of the multilateral talks on Middle East regional issues.

Under an arrangement Egyptian Foreign Minister Amre Moussa worked out last Thursday during a one-day visit to Jerusalem, Israel would drop its objections to participation by members of the so-called Palestinian diaspora in the two working groups it has boycotted up till now: one on refugees and the other on economic development.

But it would only do so provided they are not members of the Palestine National Council, not residents of Jerusalem and do not raise as an issue the right of Palestinian refugees to return to parts of Israel they fled after Israeli independence.

Even more uncertain is whether the Palestinians are willing to get down to nuts-and-bolts discussions on autonomy once the bilateral peace talks resume in Washington on Oct. 21.

As an incentive, Israel may formally state that the five-year autonomy arrangement being negotiated is not designed as a final solution for the territories, according to reports Sunday on Israel Radio and in the daily Al Hamishmar.

The refusal by the Palestinians to get down to practical discussions on running their affairs has been cited by Israel as the cause of the virtual deadlock in these talks.

Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, briefing a number of political parties over the last two weeks, has blamed the lack of decision-making ability within the Palestinian camp for the standstill.

He said the Palestinian delegation was suffering internal divisions and a lack of clarity in their relationship with Palestine Liberation Organization headquarters in Tunis.

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