CAIRO ø Egypt has offered to deploy up to 400 troops in the Gaza
Egyptian officials said the troops would consist of advisers who would
train Palestinian Authority security forces. They said the proposal was
relayed by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in his meetings with senior U.S.
officials earlier this week.
The officials said the Egyptian troops would be deployed largely in the
southern Gaza Strip in wake of an Israeli withdrawal, planned for completion
by the end of 2005. The troops would help PA security forces patrol the
border town of Rafah and stop the weapons smuggling from Egypt.
The United States has approved in principle the Egyptian offer,
They said Egypt has been designated by the Bush administration as the
key Arab security trainer of the PA.
The exact mission of the Egyptian force has not yet been determined,
officials said. They said the United States wants the Egyptian force to
participate in Palestinian counter-insurgency missions, while Mubarak has
insisted that Cairo will serve only in a capacity role.
The United States will not contribute to any international security
force in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, officials said. They said Washington
has been concerned that any U.S. military presence in PA areas could become
an immediate target of insurgency attack.
On Thursday, Sharon released his withdrawal plan, which called for the
presence of British, Egyptian and Jordanian security experts in the Gaza
Strip. The plan said Israel insists that any foreign presence in the West
Bank and Gaza Strip requires approval of the Jewish state. Britain has
already been training and equipping PA security forces in the West Bank city
The Sharon plan said Israel will maintain and perhaps expand its
military presence along the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip while
transfer the international crossing point near Rafah to a point two
kilometers south. At a later stage, Israel will examine the evacuation of
this area contingent upon "the extent of Egypt's cooperation in the creation
of a more reliable arrangement."