Israel and Egypt are close to agreeing on the deployment of 800 Egyptian policemen along the western side of the Philadelphi route on the Gaza-Egypt border.

Such deployment is meant to speed up an Israeli decision on clearing the route of Israel troops, thereby making the Gaza pullout complete.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had previously expressed support for the deployment of between 3,000 and 5,000 Egyptian policemen along the more southern segment.

Yet, Sharon told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee this week that the deployment would be restricted at this point to 800 policemen.

The chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Yuval Steinitz (Likud) is leading opposition against the deployment of more Egyptian troops along the borders.

Steinitz expressed concerns that that Sharon backed down his first proposal only because of political pressure, and that he will try to expand the deployment a year from now.

Steinitz argues that Egyptian police deployment requires Knesset approval as it entails reopening the security appendix to the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, which stipulates a demilitarized area will be maintained along the border.

The matter was recently given to Attorney General Menachem Mazuz for his consideration but Mazuz has not net rendered his opinion.