What They Will Talk About

Ilene R. Prusher, Special To The Christian Science Monitor

Israeli and Palestinian officials say that while United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright put an upbeat spin on the state of their talks when she left Jerusalem in early October, many "interim phase" issues have yet to be resolved.

Before moving on to "final status" talks - which the leaders have said they may do if they make enough headway at Wye Plantation beginning Oct. 15 - here are some of the major disputes Israeli and Palestinian negotiators must still address.

* The nature of the Israeli withdrawal: Israel wants to make the second redeployment from 13 percent of the West Bank in three stages. Each would be dependent on the Palestinian Authority's fulfillment of an Israel security requirement. Palestinians say the redeployment must be carried out in one phase. Israel wants to skip the third redeployment, which it promised to carry out in the Oslo accords, and move directly to final-status talks. Palestinians say this is unacceptable.

* Safe passage for Palestinian travelers between the Palestinian-controlled West Bank and Gaza Strip. Palestinians want the road to have a special status that would make travelers immune from Israeli security checks and searches. Israel says it must retain sovereignty over the route.

* The opening of the Gaza seaport and airport. Technical disputes over the airport are expected to be resolved. But fundamental differences over the opening of the seaport are not expected to be resolved at the summit.

* A timeout on Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The United States has been encouraging Israel to stop all settlement activity and other unilateral actions, which the Palestinians consider a key condition for resuming negotiations. Israel says such limits are not dictated by the Oslo accords.

* Changing the Palestinian national charter, which calls for the destruction of Israel. Palestinians say the Palestine National Council voted in 1996 to delete the paragraphs in question. But Israel maintains the actual editing was never done.

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