'Deploying troops in Sinai may need Knesset approval'

In response to report that Barak agreed to Egyptian troops in Sinai, Knesset speaker Rivlin instructs legal adviser to examine option.

Rivlin 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Rivlin 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin instructed Knesset Legal Adviser Eyal Yinon on Friday to examine whether permitting the Egyptians to deploy additional troops in the Sinai Peninsula required the approval of the Knesset.
Rivlin sought the legal opinion in response to reports that Defense Minister Ehud Barak agreed to Egypt deploying thousands more troops in Sinai, despite limitations set in the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt.
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“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,” Rivlin said. “It is not enough that there is an agreement between the defense minister and prime minister without the approval of the government.”
The Economist magazine reported on Friday that Barak said Israel would agree to Egypt deploying thousands of troops in Sinai even though the peace treaty strictly forbade it.
Barak, who according to the British weekly is backed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, said “the troops will have helicopters and armored vehicles, but no tanks beyond the lone battalion already stationed there.”
Barak added, “Sometimes you have to subordinate strategic considerations to tactical needs.”
According to The Economist, Barak did not downplay Israel’s long-term concern or the risk in what he was proposing. The new troops allowed into Sinai would be unlikely to ever be withdrawn by any Egyptian government, according to the magazine.
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, who went to the High Court of Justice to try to block additional Egyptian troop deployments in the past, declined to comment on Barak’s plan.