JERUSALEM (AP) _ The opening of a land link between the West Bank and Gaza Strip has been delayed for the second time in two weeks because of disagreements over how to operate it, Palestinian and Israeli officials said Saturday.

The so-called safe passage was to have opened Sunday, allowing Palestinians to move relatively freely for the first time between the two Palestinian areas, which lie on either side of Israel.

But the Israelis and Palestinians were unable to agree Saturday on where in the Gaza Strip to place a joint office that would issue travel permits to Palestinians.

``Under such circumstances, we do not see the safe passage operating tomorrow,'' said Palestinian Civil Affairs Minister Jamil Tarifi.

Tarifi later told Israel TV that he did not want to open the route tomorrow only to have to decide the office's location later.

An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said internal disputes among Palestinian officials had caused the delay.

Israel's public security minister, Shlomo Ben-Ami, said more talks will be held next week to try to resolve the issue.

Under its latest interim peace agreement with the Palestinians, Israel pledged to open the safe passage on Oct. 1. However, there have been delays because of disagreements over how to operate the route, which uses existing roads in Israel.

Last week, all disagreements appeared to have been cleared up and Sunday was set as the opening day.

Israeli officials said 500 residents from Gaza and one from the West Bank have already applied for travel permits.

The route is seen by the Palestinians as a major gain, especially for the 1 million residents of the crowded Gaza Strip, which is surrounded by barbed wire.

In principle, every Palestinian is allowed to use the safe passage. By contrast, large groups of people were denied entry permits for Israel in the past, including younger men and those who had served time in prison for anti-Israeli activities.