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Rabin Tries to Clarify ‘rules’ for Resumption of Peace Talks

RABIN TRIES TO CLARIFY `RULES’ FOR RESUMPTION OF PEACE TALKS. A week of acrimony between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators appeared to be ending as the two sides neared agreement on a formula that would enable them to return to the peace table, according to informed sources here.

But Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, in public statements Wednesday, carefully stopped short of announcing a resumption of talks.

“I believe that once we will clarify the rules of the negotiations, what is the status of the papers in Cairo, the understanding in Cairo, we will resume negotiations,” Rabin told reporters.

Rabin added, moreover, that if the PLO persisted in renouncing the understandings reached in Cairo, Israel would not consider itself bound by those understandings and would review its own positions.

A decision on resuming the talks would likely be made by the end of the week, Rabin said.

The talks had come to an abrupt halt following last week’s negotiations in Cairo, where, according to Israeli negotiators, an agreement for implementing the self-rule accord had been reached.

The Palestine Liberation Organization, however, had said there had been no agreement, only an Israeli position paper to break the impasse.

The negotiations had reached an impasse over several security issues, particularly who would control the borders between the Gaza Strip and Egypt and between the West Bank town of Jericho and Jordan.

The formula by which the two sides would set aside their latest crisis is understood to contain a reference to the Cairo discussions as the “basis” for resumed negotiations, thereby avoiding the issue of whether the Palestinians accepted the terms reached in those discussions.

The reconciliation was achieved as a result of messages transmitted back and forth by phone and fax between Peres in Jerusalem and the PLO leadership in Tunis.

In a related development, Uri Savir, director general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, met with Jordanian officials in a bid to mollify King Hussein’s anger with PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat over alleged foot-dragging by the PLO in negotiations with Jordan.

On Saturday, the king publicly attacked Arafat and warned that if he persisted in refusing to sign a Jordanian-PLO cooperation accord, Jordan would proceed on its own in the peace process.

The cooperation accord between Amman and the PLO includes provisions that would allow Jordanian banks to reopen branches in the West Bank and that would enable Jordan’s central bank to act as a clearing house for financial aid to the territories.

In Tunis, Arafat is facing another challenge: A delegation of more than 100 prominent Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza have flown there to protest what was called Arafat’s autocratic style and to demand greater democracy within the organization.

The delegation was led by Dr. Haidar Abdel-Shafi, a prominent Gaza physician who was the former head of the Palestinian delegation to the peace talks in their initial stages.

Abdel-Shafi is one of the many Palestinian officials who have resigned in recent months to protest Arafat’s leadership style.

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