A Hamas policeman stands guard near Egyptian soldiers at the gate of the Rafah border crossing in the southern Gaza Strip May 28, 2011 (Photo: Reuters)
The director of Policy and Political Military Affairs at the Israeli Ministry of Defence, Amos Gilad, arrived in Cairo on Wednesday for talks with the Egyptian government, senior Egyptian security officials told Ahram Online.
Gilad arrived with a small delegation on a private jet from Tel Aviv. It is his second visit to Egypt since the January 25 Revolution.
High-level officials told Ahram Online that there are three issues on the agenda: borders’ security, prisoner swaps and development in the Palestinian reconciliation agreement that Egypt sponsored.
Egyptian observers agree that security arrangements between Egypt and Israel are the main reason behind Gilad’s visit, especially following the Egyptian government’s decision to permanently open the Rafah border crossing with Gaza.
“Security arrangements over the borders are a top priority for the Israelis now,” Tarek Fahmy, director of the National Center for Middle East Studies.
Fahmy added that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently said that he is worried that internal politics would affect Egypt’s ability to control the borders.
Cairo has given serious consideration to the border security with Gaza, says Fahmy, and is prepared to increase the number of military personal in Sinai. Israel has constantly rejected the idea.
“Egypt requested many times before to add 3,000 soldiers from the army to control borders with Israel, but Tel Aviv rejected [this], that explains the current security defect,” Fahmy said.
According to the terms of the Camp David peace agreement, Egypt and Israel are not allowed to deploy military troops on the borders, only policemen from both sides are allowed.
Another political source told Ahram Online that talks will be held during Gilad’s visit on the exchange of prisoners between Israel and Palestinian authorities in return for Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier captured by Hamas and held in Gaza since 2006.
“Hamas leaders handed the Egyptian mediators a list of Palestinian prisoners in Israel on Tuesday, the list including members of Hamas, Fatah and Islamic Jihad movements,” the official said.
The source added that Gilad also wants to make sure that opening the Rafah crossing will not affect the ceasefire between Hamas and Israel or expose them to any threat from Gaza.