Netanyahu: Israel Shouldn't Hurry to Alter Peace Treaty With Egypt

PM says such a move would require approval by cabinet after examination of security situation; recent reports indicate Israel may be interested in allowing Egypt to station more troops in Sinai, which violates the 1978 peace treaty.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that he does not believe Israel should rush to amend the peace treaty with Israel.

"If we are going to alter the peace treaty with Egypt – and I don't think that it is something we need to rush into – it must be approved by the cabinet," Netanyahu said Sunday during a meeting with Likud ministers.

Israel-Egypt border - DO NOT USE
Uriel Sinai

Recently, senior Israel Defense Forces officials said that Israel should consider amending its peace treaty with Egypt so as to allow the Egyptian Army to increase its presence in Sinai in light of the deteriorating security situation there.

Netanyahu, however, stressed that Israel must first take care of its security issues and also examine more closely the situation in Sinai.

"We must take care of security, terror problems in particular, and we need to invest more resources in tackling obstacles," Netanyahu pressed. "We are in continued contacts with the Egyptian government and we are trying to navigate these contacts intelligently."

On Saturday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that Israel does not intend to approve additional Egyptian troops in the eastern Sinai Peninsula, despite reports in Haaretz and the British weekly The Economist on Friday in which the defense minister said it was in Israel's interest to allow Egypt to bring in larger forces to overcome the ongoing anarchy along the border with Israel.

Such additional troops would not be in accordance with the 1978 Israel-Egypt peace treaty, and following Friday's reports, Knesset Speaker MK Reuven Rivlin (Likud ) said he would be looking into whether any alteration of the peace agreement would require Knesset approval.

Following the reports, Barak sought through associates to correct the impression that had been given. An official in his bureau said Saturday: "No request has been submitted by Egypt to augment troops and if such a request is made, it will be examined in the appropriate forums. There is no automatic approval and the forces that have already been approved will depart on the agreed-on date."