Israel, PLO open talks in Paris on stalled pullout

December 22, 1993|By New York Times News Service

PARIS -- Israeli and Palestinian officials began talks here yesterday aimed at resolving disputes that have delayed carrying out September's landmark Middle East peace agreement.

A French government official said that the two delegations had opened discussions at the Hotel Inter-Continental in central Paris but that negotiations would not begin in earnest until Foreign Minister Shimon Peres of Israel meets Yasser Abed Rabbo, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization's executive committee.

It was not clear whether Mr. Peres and Mr. Rabbo would also jTC meet at the hotel, or at some other site in secret.

The talks, expected to continue into today, followed discussions in Norway over the weekend that failed to resolve differences on border checkpoints, the size of the area under Palestinian control around Jericho and security arrangements for Jewish settlements in Gaza. Some progress appears to have been made.

Israeli newspaper reports suggested yesterday that Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin had agreed to allow some sharing of control of checkpoints at the borders between the Gaza Strip and Egypt and the Jericho area and Jordan.

Under the peace agreement, the Gaza Strip and Jericho are to come under autonomous Palestinian authority.

It was not clear whether this proposal would involve having a Palestinian and then an Israeli checkpoint, or Palestinian liaison officers at a single crossing manned by Israelis.

Gad Ben-Ari, Mr. Rabin's spokesman, declined to comment on the reports. But French officials said Mr. Rabin and the PLO leader Yasser Arafat appeared to have given broad approval to plans, first outlined in Norway, for some kind of sharing of border controls.

Israel has argued that the accord it signed with the PLO in September called for external security to remain in Israeli hands for a five-year interim period until an envisioned final peace settlement is reached, while the Palestinians have insisted that their autonomy in the Gaza Strip and Jericho is meaningless if the borders are policed by Israelis.

The Palestinians want to control an 80-square-mile area around Jericho, while the Israelis have agreed to no more than 35 square miles.

The two sides are also divided over Israeli demands that Israel have access to Palestinian-controlled areas when pursuing guerrilla suspects. Israel says such access is essential to the security of Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip.

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