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Palestinians Form Committees To Help In Negotiations

November 7, 1991

JERUSALEM (AP) _ Palestinians have started organizing committees of experts to aid in negotiations with Israel, an adviser to the Palestinian delegation to the Mideast peace talks said today.

Palestinian sources said the committees would be exploring how the 1.7 million residents of the West Bank and Gaza Strip would be governed under Israel’s offer of autonomy.

But the delegation adviser, Ziad Abu Ziad, denied this was the purpose of the groups. ″The Palestinian people are not interested in autonomy. We are interested in practicing our rights of self-determination,″ he said.

″There are efforts to organize technical committees, which can put information in front of the Palestinian delegation″ meeting with the Israelis, Abu Ziad said.

The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said two representatives will be chosen from each major city area in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The committees will deal with medicine, social issues, education, law and the environment, the sources said.

Israeli media reported that the committees have asked to work with the Israeli military government to start coordinating a transfer of rule, but both Abu Ziad and a spokesman for the military government, Hanan Rubin, denied that.

Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir’s Likud bloc has proposed autonomy in the occupied territories as a interim stage during which a permanent settlement would be discussed.

However, some Palestinians worry that once they accept autonomy, their aspirations for a Palestinian state will never be realized.

Meanwhile, PLO chairman Yasser Arafat was back in Damascus today, seeking to arrange a summit of Arab leaders to coordinate positions for their separate peace talks with Israel.

Arafat first proposed the summit of states bordering Israel three weeks ago on his first official trip to Syria since 1983, the year he was expelled during a power struggle in the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Arafat’s adviser, Nabil Shaath, said Palestinians would offer Israel mutual ″confidence-building measures″ while pushing to shorten the term of transitional self-rule.

Shaath told the daily Haaretz that Palestinians ″would be willing to stop throwing firebombs and stones″ if Israel ″announced the freeze of oppressive measures, for example military laws in the territories, or freeing the administrative detainees.″ Administrative detainees are those jailed without trial.

Also today, in an interview with the daily Maariv, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt urged Israel to be more flexible.

″With good intentions we could reach a total peace agreement in the region in eight-nine months, at the most a year. But all the cards are in Israel’s hands,″ Mubarak told Maariv.

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