The Israeli minister for pensioner affairs Rafi Eitan signaled on Monday that the deployment of an international peacekeeping mission in the Gaza Strip and at a later stage in the West Bank was possible. Eitan believes that the Israeli strikes on Gaza could bring about an international presence in the area, similar to that in southern Lebanon.

Speaking to Israeli radio, Eitan aid he expected that Egypt wpuld form the main component of such a force due to the country’s proximity and close ties to the Gaza Strip.

“We are getting to this gradually, as with the killing of 500 to 600 Palestinians, there would be no choice but to accept such a presence”, Eitan was quoted as saying.

Commenting on the minister’s remarks, Miri Esin, spokeswoman of the Israeli Prime Minister, maintained that the official policy of the Israeli government is that the Palestinian Authority should assume the role of stabilizing the Palestinian territories and prevent any upsurge of violence.

In the shadow of recent Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip and uncontrollable intra-Palestinian violence, many international bodies, including the Italian foreign minister, have called for installing an international peacekeeping mission in the coastal region.

Last week, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, stated that a peacekeeping force is one of the suggestions that the EU would discuss, should it be proposed by any of the concerned parties.

Egypt believed that ‘there is no need for such a force, while the Palestinians said this option is not yet a part of their agenda.

According to the Oslo peace accords of 1993, the Palestinian Authority’s autonomous regime is entitled to lead the Palestinians to a negotiated two-state solution with Israel.

The Israeli-Palestinian peace process has stalled in 2000 when the-then Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon entered the Al-Aqsa mosque, sparking the second Palestinian uprising (Intifada).

The Intifada currently lives a heightened wave of Israeli attacks on the Palestinians in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, as over the past 11 days, Israeli army has killed 50 Palestinians, wounded about 200 others in the Gaza Strip and arrested PA’s ministers and MPs in the West Bank.

Concurrently, Palestinian resistance groups have continued homemade shells fire on Israeli areas, adjacent to Gaza, killing 2 Israelis in Sderot and wounded about 20 others.