Israeli government approved on Sunday the Philadelphi deal for deploying Egyptian border guards across the Philadelphi Route in Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.

The agreement will be brought before the Knesset plenum in a special recess session on Wednesday.  Sources at Sharon’s office believe that it will enjoy parliamentary majority.

After the approval, the agreement will be signed by senior Israeli and Egyptian military officials to highlight the deal, which is described by Israel as military-security in nature, rather than a “security deal.”

“The Egyptians are ready for deployment.  They will enter the area within a week or two after it is signed,” Israeli defense sources said.

Political sources in Israel believe that the deployment of Egyptian border guards, which is seen a prerequisite for withdrawal of the Israeli army, will be completed before the Jewish New Year in October. 

The agreement was approved by 18 Knesset members, while Likud Ministers Limor Livnat and Tzachi Hanegbi opposed it.

750 Egyptian troops will be deployed along the 14 kilometer route in order to prevent arms smuggling and infiltration attempts.

Israeli defense minister, Shaul Mofaz, said that the army will most likely withdraw from Gaza by September 15, 2005, while the Egyptians will control the Philadelphi Route by the end of the Year. 

The Egyptian force will include four brigades, armed by 504 automatic rifles, 9 sniper-rifles, 94 pistols, 27 RPG shells, 31 armored vehicles, 44 jeeps, and other equipment.

Also, an international force will monitor the implementation of the security arrangements and the Egyptian force, in addition to conducting periodic meetings between Israeli and Egyptian military officials, and an annual evaluation of the implementation of the agreement.

Three radars will be installed along the route in addition to one naval radar. 

Also, Israel rejected an Egyptian request to deploy an additional 3000 Egyptian troops along the border from Rafah to Eilat.

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