Security cabinet convenes for third time in three days

Main focus is on PA bid in September, say gov’t sources; Israel and Egypt to jointly investigate deaths of three Egyptian security officers.

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August 26, 2011 03:09
2 minute read.
The scene of a rocket attack in Beersheba, Sat.

Grad attack scene Beersheba 311 R. (photo credit: REUTERS/Baz Ratner)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu convened the security cabinet Thursday evening for the third meeting in as many days, though government officials denied that it was called to deal with the escalation of violence in the South.

The forum met early Tuesday morning and drew up parameters of how Israel would respond to the developments in the south, namely that Jerusalem would not initiate a major offensive in Gaza, but would continue to thwart attacks, be they the launching of missiles against Israel, or efforts to infiltrate into the country.

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On Wednesday the same forum met, and though the situation in the South was discussed somewhat, the main focus was on September and the Palestinian Authority’s apparent determination to go ahead with its recognition gambit at the UN.

The agenda for Thursday evening’s meeting was not revealed beforehand, and no statement was issued afterward.

Government officials indicated there has been no change in the government’s policies regarding the situation in the south, and that the military was still guided by the principles set down at its Tuesday morning meeting.

National Security Council head Ya’acov Amidror, meanwhile, issued a statement Thursday saying that Israel and Egypt would jointly investigate the killing last week of three Egyptian security officers, following the terrorist attack near Eilat.

Both countries will conduct independent investigations and then share and discuss the findings.

Egypt’s ambassador to the Palestinian Authority, Yasser Othman, was quoted in the Palestinian Ma’an news agency claiming that Egypt was instrumental in fending off a largescale Israeli operation in Gaza.

According to the report, Othman said Israel did not launch a large-scale operation because of fear of the “Egyptian people’s reaction.” Israeli officials have acknowledged that a wide range of considerations were taken into account in deciding how to respond, including the political uncertainty in Egypt and the crisis in Syria.

Othman said that tension still existed in the Egyptian-Israeli relationship in the aftermath of the attack, and that Cairo wanted from Israel a “clear, strong apology and a pledge not to repeat such acts in the future.”

He was quoted as saying that expressions of regret articulated by President Shimon Peres and Defense Minister Ehud Barak were inadequate.

Othman’s words, however, contradict reports that Barak’s expression of regret was drawn up in coordination with Egyptian authorities.

The entire incident has underlined for Israeli decision makers the difficulty in dealing with Egypt in the post- Mubarak era. Currently there is a triangle that consists of the transitional military council, the government and the street, with each pulling in its own direction and no one firmly and clearly in charge.

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