Arab foreign ministers expected to delay talks with Israel at least a week

April 19, 1993|By Los Angeles Times

DAMASCUS, Syria -- Arab foreign ministers are expected to decide here today to delay the next round of peace negotiations with Israel at least a week beyond the Tuesday date set by President Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, according to Arab diplomats and sources close to the deliberations in Syria.

Palestinian officials, who have been pushing for a delay in the Middle East peace talks until after Israel offers more concessions, said their Arab counterparts had agreed to a one-week delay in the resumption of the 18-month-old negotiations in Washington.

Arab diplomats, scheduled to conclude their deliberations on the issue today, confirmed that a decision for a brief delay in the talks was likely to be the central part of their official statement after three days of meetings in the Syrian capital, which were aimed at forming a unified Arab stand on the peace negotiations with Israel.

They added that U.S. Secretary of State Warren M. Christopher had agreed to a new date of April 28 during a telephone call to Arab officials here late Saturday.

In Jerusalem yesterday, Prime Minister Rabin told the Cabinet that he would offer no further concessions to bring the Palestinians back to the negotiations, but officials saw no real crisis, only a delay of a week or so.

"Israel has declared that until the negotiations resume, it does not see a need and it will not show a readiness for further gestures to the Palestinians," Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said.

Mr. Rabin told the weekly Cabinet meeting that he has full U.S. understanding for his stance and that he has ordered Israeli negotiators not to leave for Washington until there was a firm Arab commitment on a date for resumption of the talks.

In another development, an Israeli lawyer was hacked to death with knives and axes in the first Israeli fatality since the Israeli occupied territories were sealed three weeks ago in an attempt to calm unrest. A radical Palestinian group said it was responsible for the attack in a Gaza Strip office.

The lawyer, Jan Feinberg, worked for a consulting firm that advises the European Community on aid for residents of Gaza, an EC spokeswoman said.

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