Egyptian official: Israel agrees to Sinai troop increase

High-ranking Cairo security official says initial agreement between Egypt, Israel to deploy more Egyptian troops in Sinai region reached.

August 26, 2011 19:27
2 minute read.
An Egyptian soldier on the Israeli border in Sinai

An Egyptian soldier on the Israeli border in Sinai 311 (R). (photo credit: Ronen Zvulun / Reuters)


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Egypt and Israel have agreed to increase the number of Egyptian troops in the Sinai border region after an eruption of violence in the area, a high-ranking security official told Reuters on Friday.

"After continued negotiations there is now an initial agreement between Egypt and Israel to deploy more Egyptian troops in the Sinai region," the Egyptian security official said, asking to remain anonymous.

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The agreement was reached during long-running talks over border security. But the official said negotiations were pushed along by a deadly attack by gunmen last week, who killed eight Israelis. Israel said the attackers infiltrated from Gaza via the Sinai region.

The Egyptian offcial'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.

An Egyptian intelligence official told Reuters that Israel had become more responsive to Egypt's demands for deploying more troops and weapons there but could not confirm the report.

"Sinai is Egyptian land and yet our army has no control over it because of a decades-old peace treaty that limits Egyptian troops. Israel has no right to wag its finger at Egypt for security problems at the border unless it is willing to keep an open mind and negotiate amendments with Egypt," said Ali Abdullah, 31.

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."

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