Gap remains on autonomy talks

Stung by a hard-line move from Israel's parliament, Egypt has served notice that President Sadat's agreement in principle to restart Palestinian autonomy talks was just that -- an agreement in principle, Monitor correspondent Ned Temko reports.

US officials here had been hoping Mr. Sadat's "reassessment" of the reviving the negotiations, unilaterally "suspended" by EGypt late May 8.

Not so. Instead, an Egyptian statement sharply attacked an Israel parliament move to redeclare the disputed holy city of Jerusalem as the official capital of the Jewish state.

That, coupled with a recent Israeli crackdown on Palestinian unrest in the occupied West Bank of the Jordan, had in the Egyptian view "made it difficult to restart the negotiations. . . . Israel must therefore review its position."

Most Western diplomats saw the Egyptian move not so much as ruling out a resumption of the talks as delaying this step and re-emphasizing the wide gap still to be bridged.

"Egypt is in favor of [restrating] negotiation, but we cannot have them now in view of the [Israeli parliament] resolutions," Egypt's state secretary for foreign affairs, Butrus Ghali, explained.

Meanwhile, President Sadat swore in his new Cabinet Thursday and promised it would carry out wide-ranging domestic reforms.

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