Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will discuss on Wednesday night, with his government, whether Israel will keep control of the border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt after the planned disengagement and the evacuation of the Philadelphi border line, Israeli source reported.

The source also said that the U.S. Administration hopes that Israel will give up control over this vital crossing point for the Gaza Strip since it is the only way for Palestinians to travel abroad.  Israel prevents Palestinians from traveling through its Ben-Gurion airport.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in her latest visit to the region that the Gaza Strip must not be isolated from the rest of the world after the disengagement is completed.

The discussion will also include whether Israel might transfer control over this border crossing to a Europeans.  Meanwhile, Israel plans to keep the rest of the crossings into and out of the strip under its control.

If a plan is approved, it will be submitted to the security cabinet for final approval.

Israeli Vice Premier Shimon Peres suggested that Israel quit the Rafah border crossing and limit its usage to passenger traffic, while cargo will go through Netzana and will be subject to Israeli control only.

Local observers said that Peres’ suggestion, if adopted, would allow Israel to claim it had terminated its occupation to the Gaza Strip.

Military establishment officers say it is too early to give up control over border crossings as such.

Israel’s Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said this operation must be carried out in stages, adding that the Gaza Strip must be arms-free by the final stage.

Palestinians are concerned about future control over the Strip in the post disengagement era, despite the many Palestinian-Israeli security meetings.

Palestinian Minister of Civil Affairs Mohammad Dahlan, who is in charge of disengagement planning, is scheduled to meet on Wednesday with the Mofaz and other Israeli officials.

The meeting will be one of a series of planned meetings to prepare for the pullout, which is slated to start on August 15.

The officials will discuss the future of the Rafah crossing and the airport in light of the planned withdrawal from the strip.

Israel still obstructs the movement of the Palestinians going through Rafah crossing. It also objected to any renovation at the Gaza airport, which it destroyed in 2002, and refuses to allow the Palestinian Authority to build a sea port in the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian and Israeli officials will also discuss other issues like communication, water and electricity arrangement after the pullout.

Dahlan is also met Wednesday morning with John Wolfensohn, the Quartet envoy to the Middle East, over some disengagement issues.

Both Dahlan and Wolfensson toured the the northern Gaza Strip entrance near Beit Hanoun, known as Eretz crossing. 

Thousands of workers need to pass through this crossing every day to be able to work in Israel to make a living.