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Israel accepts Egyptian offer to increase forces

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    Israel accepts Egyptian offer to increase forces http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/508481.html By Aluf Benn Israel has accepted Egypt s offer to beef up its
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 1, 2004
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      Israel accepts Egyptian offer to increase forces
      http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/508481.html
      By Aluf Benn



      Israel has accepted Egypt's offer to beef up its forces on the border
      between Sinai and the Gaza Strip and to train Palestinian officers,
      government sources said Tuesday.



      Israel will advise Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit and
      intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, who are due in Jerusalem today, of its
      decision.

      A few weeks ago, Egypt proposed deploying 750 armed troops on the Egyptian
      side of the Philadelphi route in the Rafah area to reinforce security and
      prevent arms smuggling into the Gaza Strip. Today, only policemen are
      deployed there in keeping with the Israeli-Egyptian peace agreement.

      Egypt also offered to train Palestinian officers to help them take over the
      Strip after Israel's withdrawal. The sources said Israel will propose
      coordinating the Egyptian deployment with the pullout.

      Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told a delegation of American senators
      yesterday that he would discuss with the Egyptian ministers "how Egypt is
      enlisting to reinstate stability in Gaza and to promote Israel's security
      coordination with the Palestinians." Sharon said that if Egypt acts to stop
      the smuggling, the Israel Defense Forces would be able to withdraw from the
      Philadelphi route.

      Sharon told the senators that Egypt must act against arms smuggling into
      the Strip not only near the border but also well inside its territory.

      Suleiman and Abu Gheit will be meeting Sharon, Foreign Minister Silvan
      Shalom and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz. Shalom will have a long work
      meeting with the ministers as well as a joint press conference and
      luncheon. He will discuss with them ways to develop economic and civilian
      ties between the two states, the situation in the Palestinian Authority,
      and advancing political talks with the Palestinians.

      Syrian track
      During the Egyptians' visit, they will also attempt to advance Syrian
      requests to begin peace negotiations.

      Egyptian Presidential spokesman Maged Abdel Fattah on Tuesday told
      reporters that "Syria has said that it does not insist on the Rabin deposit
      and does not hang on to what was agreed in previous negotiations. Israel
      must follow suit."

      "The Rabin deposit" is the diplomatic term for the Syrian claim, contested
      by many Israelis, that assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin promised
      full withdrawal from the Golan Heights in any final peace agreement with
      Syria.

      Israeli officials contend that any offer by Rabin was conditional and
      hypothetical, designed to test what the Syrians were prepared to offer in
      return.

      However, in Damascus, Syria's official news agency quoted Assad as
      restating Syria's long-standing position that peace talks must resume from
      the point they broke off in 2000.

      In addition, assistant Syrian foreign minister, Wallid Mualem, told the Al
      Arabiyah television station that Damascus is not willing to give up
      anything achieved in previous talks. However, he added, peace is a
      "strategic choice" for Syria.

      Assad told Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in a meeting at the Red Sea
      resort of Sharm el-Sheikh that restarting the peace process "will be
      through building on what had already been achieved and completed in order
      to reach a just and comprehensive peace which returns full rights," SANA
      reported.

      "A Syrian official source stressed Syria's constant position toward
      resuming peace negotiations [with Israel] and the need to build on what had
      already been achieved," SANA reported hours after the talks.

      It quoted the unnamed official as saying that Assad told Mubarak that "this
      position has not changed."

      The official noted that this position "doesn't include any conditions to
      resume negotiations. Rather, it stresses the goal which is peace and
      fulfilling its requirements," according to SANA.
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