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Gaza Disengagement Plan: Israeli-Egyptian Agreement on Gaza Border Following Disengagement

(September 1, 2005)

A new agreement has been reached between Israel and Egypt that allows Egypt to deploy 750 on the Egyptian border with the Gaza Strip. This accord, signed by the two parties in Cairo, Egypt on September 1, will help to ensure that weapons are not smuggled to terrorists in the Gaza Strip from Egypt. The Knesset approved the deal Wednesday in a 53-28 vote. This agreement overturns a clause in the 1979 peace agreement between Israel and Egypt stating that the border between Egypt and Gaza would be a demilitarized zone. To avoid violating the Israel-Egyptian peace treaty, Egypt will not deploy tanks or construct permanent military installations on the border. Mubarak said that he would not move to deploy troops until Israel has completely withdrawn from the area. Israel has said it will eventually leave the zone and is set to withdraw in October.

A preliminary agreement was reached between Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in March 2005, which stated that Egypt would agree to patrol the "Philadelphi Route" along its border with Gaza. An agreement has not yet been reached as to whether Israel will be allowed to monitor customs on goods and people coming into Gaza. In addition to this, it was agreed that a third party transfer the rubble of settlers' homes to Egypt, while Israel would take on the task of burying toxic substances inside its borders.

Now that Israel has evacuated all of its settlers from the Gaza Strip, security is the main concern. Israel is due to start constructing a new border-crossing terminal at Kerem Shalom on the Israel-Egypt-Gaza border next week, despite opposition from Egypt and the Palestinian Authority. Israel wants the entry from Egypt into the Gaza Strip to be via the Kerem Shalom terminal to ease the process of monitoring customs. It is threatening to exclude Gaza from the customs union with Israel and the West Bank if the Palestinians insist on running the terminal on their own.

Sources: Ha'aretz,