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Tuesday, October 4, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Egypt envoy warns: Israel preparing 'to take Sinai'

RAMALLAH — Egypt has warned of a purported Israeli plan to take over the Sinai Peninsula.


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."

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