Barak mulls deploying PA force at Gaza crossings

Gilad heads to Cairo for consultations with Egyptian intel chief on cease-fire package deal with Hamas.

amos gilad 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
amos gilad 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Defense Minister Ehud Barak is leaning towards accepting one of the key elements of a deal Egypt is trying to broker between Israel and Hamas allowing troops loyal to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to be deployed at crossings into the Gaza Strip, defense officials have told The Jerusalem Post. On Tuesday, head of the Defense Ministry's Diplomatic-Security Bureau Amos Gilad traveled to Cairo for talks with Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, who has been mediating between Israel and Hamas in an effort to reach a ceasefire deal in the Gaza Strip. Suleiman was scheduled to visit Israel this week for talks with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, but, as reported exclusively in the Post, on Monday he canceled his trip and instead Gilad - as well as several members of his staff - flew down to Cairo. Gilad's talks with Suleiman focused on Egypt's efforts to put together a package deal in the South that will include a cease-fire in Gaza, an Egyptian commitment to increase anti-smuggling efforts on the border - on Tuesday policemen there caught half-a-ton of explosives on its way to Gaza - give Hamas a presence at the Rafah Crossing, and place the PA once again in control of the other crossings from Gaza into Israel. While the package deal has yet to be approved by Olmert or Barak, defense officials said that Barak was leaning towards approving one of the deal's elements in the interim - the deployment of Abbas's Presidential Guards at the major crossings into Gaza at Karni and Erez. The IDF has recommended not transferring control over the crossings to Abbas's forces, arguing that they are not capable of preventing attacks against them. The Karni and Erez Crossings repeatedly came under attack by Hamas when they were open and under the control of Fatah forces.