Egypt's ambassador to the Palestinian Authority said Israel has drafted
a plan for the capture of Sinai. Egyptian envoy Yasser Othman cited
statements by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and senior ministers
that Sinai was serving as a launching pad for attacks on the Jewish state.
"We should be ready for the Israeli plan to take Sinai in the coming
period," Othman said.
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In a Sept. 30 interview with the Palestinian news agency Maan, Othman
said Egypt has expanded its military presence in Sinai, most of which was
meant to have been demilitarized. He said Cairo would maintain control over
the peninsula without Israeli intervention, Middle East Newsline reported.
Officials said Israel has allowed Egypt to deploy scores of U.S.-origin
main battle tanks in Sinai despite restrictions set by the 1979 peace
treaty. They said the military regime in Cairo has deployed more than 5,000
soldiers and police troops in the peninsula.
Still, Israeli leaders were warning that Egypt has failed to impose
order in Sinai. They said Sinai has turned into a threat to the Jewish state
in what Othman said marked an attempt to demonstrate that Egypt was
incapable of maintaining security.
"Sinai is an important asset for every Egyptian leadership," Israeli
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said. "But I don't think that the leadership is
in full control."