CAIRO, (Reuters) – Egypt and the Palestinian Authority said on Saturday they did not envisage any international forces in Egypt or on the Gaza border under a possible truce agreement between Israel and Gaza.
Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki said Egypt had received no request. “No one has asked for this, and this is a non-issue for us,” he said.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, after talks in Cairo with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, said: “We want an international presence in the Gaza Strip, and not on the Egypt-Gaza border.” “If they say in the West Bank and Gaza, we say yes, … (but) it is not between the borders of Egypt and Rafah. We basically want to spare the blood of our people,” he added.
European and Israeli diplomats have said Egypt is objecting to proposals that foreign troops and technicians be stationed on its 15-km (9-mile) border with Gaza to prevent arms smuggling.
Diplomats have also suggested that they could supervise the operation of the border crossings and monitor the truce between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist movement which runs Gaza.
Instead, the diplomats said, Egypt is ready to accept technical assistance for its own forces on the border. Israel says the Egyptians have failed in the past to prevent Hamas building up an arsenal of hundreds of rockets.
Egypt already has international forces on its side of the border with Israel as part of the peace treaty it signed with the Jewish state in 1979.
But Zaki said that force was not relevant as a precedent. “It’s like apples and oranges,” he added.
Abbas said an Egyptian initiative launched on Tuesday was in fact the way to implement a U.N. Security Council ceasefire resolution passed on Thursday.
Neither diplomatic initiative has made much difference on the ground in Gaza, which received more Israeli attacks by land, sea and air on Saturday. Hamas fired rockets into Israel.
Abbas said the Palestinian Authority wanted a ceasefire and peace. “Resistance is not an end in itself … If the resistance aims to destroy the people, we don’t want it,” he added.