Gaza in the Balance

(Al-Ahram - Egypt) Graham Usher - Israel and Egypt share a common concern not to allow a disengaged Gaza to become a Hamas-land on their borders. Egypt has agreed to send 200 military experts to Gaza and the West Bank to shape the PA's mutinous security outfits into some kind of police force. One hundred guards will also be moved up to seal Egypt's porous border with Gaza, seen by Israelis as an entry port for Palestinian arms. But it is not just about Israel's security. "Tunnels have two ends," said one Egyptian security official. Mubarak has also asked Arafat - again - to consolidate the PA's 12 police and intelligence forces into three and place them under the command of an "empowered" prime minister or interior minister. The Palestinian leader has given a "positive response, in principle," though with a wink that it won't be carried out in practice. On Tuesday, the National and Islamic Forces - a coalition of all the Palestinian factions, including Hamas and Arafat's Fatah movement - issued a statement condemning the disengagement plan as a "deception and fraud." Hamas, too, is quietly warning Egypt not to send its military experts anytime soon. The Islamists' current strategy is to escalate the armed resistance in Gaza so that Israel's disengagement is viewed as no less a flight than was its South Lebanon precursor.

2004-06-11 00:00:00

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