More Egyptian guards for Gaza border

Israel has agreed to let Egypt step up its military presence along its border with the Gaza Strip before an Israeli withdrawal from the Palestinian territory set for next year, officials said.

    The move is intended to stop alleged arms smuggling

    "Israel has agreed in principle on a reinforcement of Egyptian units along the Gaza Strip on the condition that the peace agreement between the two countries be left unchanged," a senior Israeli official told AFP on condition of anonymity on Friday.

    He said Egypt had proposed to deploy some 750 Egyptian border guards, reportedly to limit arms smuggling into the Palestinian territory.

    Israel has asked that official letters be exchanged on the matter between Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Egypt's President Husni Mubarak.

    Israel is opposed to any changes to the 1979 peace treaty between the two countries which limits Egypt's military presence in the Sinai, bordering the Gaza Strip, the official said.

    Withdrawal plan

    Israel wants Gaza pullout to be
    followed by control over border

    The issue will be examined during the visit by Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Abu al-Ghait and intelligence chief Umar Sulayman to Israel planned for 11 November.

    Israel intends to evacuate settlements and troops from the Gaza Strip next year.

    Following the withdrawal, Israel would like to maintain control of the border between Gaza and Egypt, a move categorically opposed by the Palestinians and by Cairo. No decision on the matter has yet been reached.



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