Egypt offers plan for 30,000-man reformed security force for Gaza

Special to World
Wednesday, June 23, 2004

CAIRO Egypt has submitted a three-stage security plan for the restoration of order in the Gaza Strip and the restructuring of the Palestinian Authority security forces.

Egyptian sources said the plan submitted to Israel, the PA and the United States called for the deployment of between 200 and 300 trainers and technicians to the West Bank and Gaza Strip to restructure Palestinian security forces. Under the plan, the PA security force would total 30,000 officers employed by three Palestinian security agencies -- police, internal security and foreign intelligence.

The Egyptian training and restructuring effort would take six months, the sources said. They said Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has asked the United States and the European Union to finance the plan.

The plan was discussed on Wednesday during the visit by Egyptian intelligence chief Gen. Omar Suleiman to Israel and the West Bank. Suleiman met Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat in Ramallah and was scheduled to meet Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon later in the day.

The official Egyptian Middle East News Agency said the Egyptian plan contained three stages. MENA said the plan would seek Israeli, PA and U.S. guarantees for the safety of the Egyptian trainers in the Gaza Strip both during and after an expected Israeli withdrawal.

[On Tuesday, 10 Palestinian groups announced their opposition to any Arab security role in Palestinian areas. The ruling Fatah movement did not endorse the statement.]

In the first stage, MENA said, Suleiman would seek to win agreement from all sides and obtain guarantees for the implementation of the agreement and the safety of Egyptian personnel. Suleiman also planned to obtain approval of the Egyptian timetable for its plan. This would begin with the restructuring of PA security forces in July.

Egyptian sources said Suleiman wants to begin deployment of the security trainers in November 2004. The sources said training of the PA forces would take six months. During that time, the sources said, Israel would pledge not to undertake any military missions in the Gaza Strip.

In the second stage, Egypt would oversee Israeli preparations to begin the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and dismantle Israeli communities in the area. MENA said the Israeli commitment would also include the dismantling of four communities in the northern West Bank.

The third stage would ensure that Israel and the PA resume implementation of the so-called roadmap for a Palestinian state, a plan drafted by the United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia.

Egypt would also urge the deployment of a multinational force to protect vital facilities in the Gaza Strip. They include the airport in Dahaniya and the new sea port south of Gaza City.

Egypt intends to obtain Palestinian support for the plan when Cairo hosts a meeting of Palestinian insurgency groups in late July. At the same time, Egypt has asked the PA to establish an administration to facilitate the merging of the current 13 security agencies into three units.

The sources said the Egyptian training would also include PA forces in the West Bank. They said the effort was to ensure an integrated force in both areas of the PA.

The agency said the plan addresses all scenarios during the Egyptian effort to restructure the PA forces and restore order in the Gaza Strip. The scenarios include Israeli military attacks on Palestinian insurgents and armed opposition by such Palestinian groups as Fatah, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad.

The plan also addressed the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, which limits the number of Egyptian forces in eastern Sinai. Egypt has coordinated with Israel, United States and the Multinational Force Organization [MFO] to coordinate the Egyptian troop movement.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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