Israel accepts Egyptian offer to increase forces
- Israel accepts Egyptian offer to increase forces
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
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
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.
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
Israeli officials contend that any offer by Rabin was conditional and
hypothetical, designed to test what the Syrians were prepared to offer in
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
"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.