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Israeli-egyptian Working Groups ‘ Frie Ndly’ As They Discuss Mea Ns of Im Pl Ementing Autonomy

November 15, 1979
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Israeli and Egyptian working groups met at the Laromme Hotel in Tel Aviv today for another round of talks on autonomy for the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Haim Kubersky, chairman of the Israeli delegation, opened the proceedings with a summation of the legal powers invested in the Military Government. This was an introduction to the agenda item dealing with the ” powers and responsibilities ” of the proposed autonomous authorities, a subject on which Israel and Egypt remain far apart.

The Egyptians insist that the autonomy council be given the widest possible authority while the Israelis want its powers strictly limited. The Egyptian delegation asked for time-to study Kubersky’s report and further discussion of the “powers and responsibilities” item was postponed until tomorrow.

The atmosphere of the talks was described as “friendly” and informal. The Israelis and Egyptians are on a first name basis and chat amiably during their coffee breaks, one source said. There is no sense of urgency. “There is no rush so why pretend there is,” one observer said.

This afternoon’s talks were devoted to the technical matters involved in holding elections for the autonomous authority. Kubersky told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that progress was being made and the two parties have gotten-down to the discussion of details.

The present round of talks is to continue through next Tuesday. The United States is represented by James Leonard, deputy to Robert Strauss, President Carter’s special envoy to the Middle East. Strauss is to be replaced shortly by Sol Linowitz, who is expected to visit the Middle East at a later stage. President Anwar Sadat of Egypt meanwhile continues to express optimism over the successful outcome of the negotiations. Asked about the basis for Sadat’s confidence, the chairman of the Egyptian of the Egyptian working group, Abdul Latif, told the JTA that “He hopes a break through will come sooner or later but we still have to work on it.”

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