NATO Leader to Arrive for Talks

Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, the secretary-general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, is expected to arrive in Israel next weekend for talks with senior members of the cabinet and Israel Defense Forces officers.

According to sources in Jerusalem, Scheffer will not be discussing the possible stationing of NATO troops along the border with Egypt after the completion of Operation Cast Lead - an option entertained by some opinion-shapers commenting on the situation in Gaza.

Scheffer's visit was scheduled six weeks ago, as a going-away tour for the outgoing secretary-general, who will be finishing his term in summer. Scheffer will meet Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi.

In terms of protocol, a future stationing of NATO troops in Gaza would require a request by a member state for the move. The U.S., which is NATO's leading power, has not filed such a request to date.

Gen. James Jones, President-elect Barack Obama's pick for White House national security adviser, is believed to favor posting troops in Gaza. However, he will not enter the post before the end of January.

Another obstacle for such a move could come from internal disagreements between the U.S. and the rest of NATO's members.