Report: Israel to Allow Egypt to Deploy Troops in Sinai

The Economist reports that Barak, following the series of terror attacks on Israel's southern border, agreed to Egypt's stationing of helicopters, armored vehicles, thousands of troops in Sinai; Rivlin says move may need Knesset approval.

Avi Issacharoff
Avi Issacharoff
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Avi Issacharoff
Avi Issacharoff

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that Israel will soon allow Egypt to deploy thousands of troops in the Sinai Peninsula, the Economist reported on Friday.

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An Israeli army jeep passes by Egyptian soldiers on the Israeli-Egyptian borders on North East Sinai, August 22, 2011.Credit: Reuters

According to the report, Israel will allow helicopters and armored vehicles into Sinai, but will forbid the entrance of tanks.

Haaretz reported earlier Friday that Barak said he would agree to send thousands more Egyptian soldiers into eastern Sinai in order to end the anarchy there, saying it would be "a clear Israeli interest" since it would stop smuggling of weapons and people from Gaza.

The move comes after the series of terror attacks in southern Israel on August 18, which left eight people dead. Israel and Egypt believe the gunmen responsible for the attacks were militants that infiltrated from the Gaza Strip via Egypt's neighboring Sinai desert.

Officials also suspect that militants from Sinai had also joined the Gaza gunmen in carrying out the attacks on Israelis.

The deployment of Egyptian troops in Sinai violates the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, in which both countries agreed that the Sinai Peninsula will be a military-free zone.

Sometimes you have to subordinate strategic considerations to tactical needs, the Economist quoted Barak as saying.

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin responded to Barak's interview with the Economist on Friday, saying that the deployment of Egyptian troops in Sinai, a violation of the Camp David Accords, may need the Knesset's approval – not only the government's.

Rivlin explained that any fundamental alteration of a diplomatic agreement requires the Knesset's approval and instructed the Knesset Legal Adviser Eyal Inon to immediately examine the recent matter.

Meanwhile, Israel agreed Thursday to a joint investigation alongside Egypt of the events surrounding the terror attacks which left eight Israelis dead.

The details of the investigation would be agreed upon by both Israels and Egypts militaries, according to National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror.

An initial probe carried out by Egyptian security forces, says that three Egyptians were killed in reprisal for the attacks, all of which were members of an extremist Islamic group. One of them had escaped from an Egyptian prison during the revolution against Hosni Mubarak.

While Israel moved to ease tensions with Egypt, it mounted further attacks against Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip, from where more than 20 rockets have been launched at southern Israel since Wednesday, despite a truce announced on Monday.

Five Palestinians, including a local commander of the Islamic Jihad group in the Gaza Strip, have been killed in the latest round of bloodshed.



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