Israel says no to more Egyptian troops in Sinai
LAST UPDATED: 02/07/2011 01:50
Senior army official: We don’t want it to seem as if the peace treaty is meaningless, particularly when there could be a regime change in Cairo.
An Egyptian border policeman stands guard in Rafah Photo: AP
Fearing a complete breakdown of the peace treaty with Cairo, the government last
week refused a second Egyptian request to allow it to deploy more military
forces in Sinai, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
As first reported last
week by the Post, Israel allowed the Egyptian military to deploy units in Sinai
for the first time since the signing of the peace treaty in 1979, in response to
growing anarchy in the country. Two battalions – amounting to about 800 soldiers
– were deployed in the Sharm e-Sheikh region and around Rafah, which is split
between the Sinai and the Gaza Strip.
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Under the peace treaty, Israel
returned Sinai to Egypt. In return, Egypt agreed to leave the peninsula
Senior IDF sources said Sunday the Egyptians had asked
Israel to authorize the deployment of additional forces but that the request was
rejected by the Defense Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office.
not want it to seem as if the peace treaty is meaningless, particularly at a
time when there could be a regime change in Egypt, which could renounce the
treaty altogether,” a senior military source said on Sunday.
concerned that the Muslim Brotherhood will take over the Egyptian government and
make good on its threat to rip up the peace treaty.
According to the
source, Israel could not allow a complete breach of the treaty at a time when it
is urging the international community to ensure that the treaty is maintained,
even in the event of regime change in Egypt.
The Egyptian military asked
to deploy the forces in Sinai, defense officials said, due to the growing Beduin
On Saturday, terrorists bombed a gas terminal in Sinai, leading
to a suspension in gas supplies to Israel from Egypt. There were also reports
about armed men who had set a Coptic church in Rafah ablaze.
the Arab media reported that Egyptian forces had gone on high alert along the
Suez Canal out of fear that Hizbullah and Hamas terrorist cells planned to take
advantage of the chaos in the country to attack the strategic
“The regime is extremely concerned about the situation in Sinai
with the Beduin,” another IDF source said.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak
told the cabinet on Sunday that the Egyptian military was playing a positive
role in stabilizing the situation in the country.
He said the government
decided to permit the deployment of the military forces in Sinai on a temporary
basis and that the forces would withdraw once stability was restored on the
“Egypt is an important neighbor and peace with it is a
strategic asset,” Barak said. “We have reason to believe that Egypt feels
the same way.”
Barak will head to Washington later this week for talks
with the Obama administration over the developing situation in Egypt.
contributed to this report.