Israeli change in '79 treaty would allow Egypt to patrol border

Special to World
Monday, March 1, 2004

JERUSALEM After 25 years, Israel has proposed revising its peace treaty with Egypt.

Israeli officials said Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has relayed a proposal to the regime of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak that would significantly revise the terms of the military disengagement clause in the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty. Under that treaty, Egyptian troops were limited to the western sector of the Sinai and soldiers banned from the border with Israel.

Under Sharon's proposal, officials said, Egypt would be able to deploy thousands of security forces and police along the border with the Gaza Strip. Sharon has also proposed that Egypt deploy troops in the Gaza Strip to maintain order in the area controlled by the Palestinian Authority.

"The proposal essentially calls for the Egyptian security forces to replace the Israeli Army," an official said. "The prime minister feels this would be more effective than the PA's call for international peacekeepers to be deployed in the Gaza Strip."

The Sharon plan is based on the assumption that Egypt will cooperate far more with Israel than United Nations or NATO troops. The assumption is based on the assessment that Egypt will view such cooperation as part of its security interests and bilateral relations with Israel.

The officials said the Sharon proposal has been discussed with some senior ministers as well as Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Moshe Ya'alon. Sharon, however, said Egypt has not agreed to the offer.

Last week, opposition leader Shimon Peres urged Egypt to deploy troops along the Gaza Strip and assume responsibility for the Rafah border area. After a meeting with Mubarak in Cairo on Thursday, Peres said he believed Israel could attain Egyptian guarantees of security responsibility for at least the southern area of the Gaza Strip.

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