Israelis and PLO Resume Talks on Palestinian Elections
CAIRO, Egypt (AP) _ Troubled talks on Palestinian elections resumed today, two weeks after they were halted because of deadly attacks on Israelis by Muslim radicals.
The negotiations were renewed following a meeting last week of the leaders of Israel, the PLO, Jordan and Egypt. PLO chief Yasser Arafat and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin of Israel are scheduled to meet again Thursday.
As he entered the talks at a Cairo hotel, the chief Israeli delegate, Yoel Singer, said negotiators will ``start writing, actually drafting,″ an agreement on the elections. The chief PLO delegate, Saeb Erekat, said he did not expect an agreement to be reached during the two days of talks this week.
The balloting, which was to have taken place by July 1994, is meant to broaden the Palestinian autonomy outlined in a 1993 accord between Israel and the PLO. The first phase went into effect in the Gaza Strip and West Bank town of Jericho in May.
The 1993 accord also requires Israeli troops to pull out of Palestinian towns in the West Bank before the vote, but Israel has postponed the withdrawal because of persistent violence.
Singer said nothing about troop withdrawals in statements before the negotiations.
``We will certainly begin with the easy things and then advance to the heavier, more difficult items,″ he told Israel radio before leaving for Cairo.
Erekat repeated the PLO’s demand that Israeli soldiers pull out from Palestinian towns before the balloting.
Talks on implementing the autonomy agreement haven’t been held since a Jan. 22 suicide bombing in Israel that killed 21 Israelis. The bombing, claimed by the radical Islamic Jihad group, led many Israelis to demand that peace talks be broken off altogether.
For its part, the Palestine Liberation Organization has complained about Israeli violence against Palestinians and expansion of Jewish settlements on occupied land.
Violence has repeatedly delayed negotiations on expanding Palestinian authority into other parts of the West Bank. Since the Israel-PLO accord was signed in September 1993, more than 100 Israelis have been killed by Palestinians and nearly 200 Palestinians have been slain by Israelis.
Talks on a final peace settlement are supposed to begin no later than December.