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Autonomy Negotiations Discussing 15 Issues Itemized by Begin

October 23, 1981
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Negotiations on local autonomy for the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza Strip resumed at the Hyatt Hotel here this morning. They are scheduled to continue daily for the next nine days.

The Israeli, Egyptian and American delegations, all sub-ministerial rank officials and technicians, are discussing the 15 “major issues” itemized by Premier Menachem Begin and his ministerial colleagues in talks with the late President Anwar Sadat and his colleagues in Cairo a month ago. The present round of talks are the first official negotiations since the assassination of Sadat on Oct. 6.

Although they are supposed to be purely technical, “preparatory” for ministerial level talks next month, they may be raised to the ministerial level by next week if any snags develop.


Observers noted that Egyptian Foreign Minister Kamal Hassan Ali and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Butros Ghalli are due in Israel Sunday for talks on the Sinai withdrawal plans. They would be available to join Israeli ministers if a high-level meeting was necessary to add impetus to the lower-level talks.

The talks in Tel Aviv have engendered little interest here. Apart from the U.S., Egyptian and Israeli flags flying outside the hotel, there were few signs that a major international conference was in progress. Unlike previous talks, only a handful of reporters called at the hotel briefly. They left without waiting for a break in the talks to buttonhole any of the participants.

As the meeting got under way, word was received from Cairo that local Egyptian newspapers had refused to accept advertisements from Israeli construction firms showing their wares and services at an international construction fair in Cairo.

Israeli Chief of Staff, Rafael Eitan, has postponed a planned visit to Cairo this month at the request of the Egyptian authorities. The Egyptians reportedly suggested he should come to Cairo in December, or a date to be fixed later, after the end of the 40-day period of mourning for the late President Sadat. Israeli President Yitzhak Navon is expected to go to Cairo for a one or two-day visit to express his condolences personally to Jihan Sadat during the official mourning period.

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