Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday said that any decision to increase the number of Egyptian troops in the Sinai border region must be approved by the cabinet. He was responding to reports that Egypt and Israel had agreed to let thousands of Egyptian troops, helicopters and armored vehicles into Sinai following an escalation in violence along the border.

The move to deploy troops in Sinai would change details outlined in the peace agreement with Egypt and the prime minister said this is not something that Israel should "rush into."

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"Security arrangements must be dealt with, and we must invest more resources in building the barrier on the border with Egypt," Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu made the comments during a forum of Likud ministers before the weekly cabinet meeting.


The Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) said in response that "by law, the committee must approve changes to the agreement with Egypt and permitting more Egyptian troops in Sinai."

"The diplomatic level must make the decisions and we must approve them," he said.

An Egyptian security official said on Friday that after continued negotiations, an initial agreement between Egypt and Israel had been reached to deploy more Egyptian troops in the Sinai region."

But the official said negotiations were pushed along by a deadly attack by gunmen last week, who killed eight.

The Egyptian official's comments would appear to confirm a report in The Economist on Friday which quoted Defense Minister Ehud Barak as saying Israel would agree to an increase in Egyptian troops in the Sinai to tighten security.

In response to the report in The Economist, Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin instructed the Knesset's legal adviser Eyal Yinon to examine whether the option of deploying thousands of Egyptian troops in Sinai would require Knesset approval.

"It is quite possible that the permission to allow the introduction of Egyptian forces in Sinai, which is defined as a demilitarized zone as part of the peace agreement, will require the approval of the Knesset," said Rivlin. "It is not enough that there is an agreement between the defense minister and prime minister, without the approval of the government."

Reuters contributed this report.

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