Chief of Egyptian intelligence, Omar Suleiman, is to arrive in Gaza on Monday for discussions with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and leaders of Palestinian factions over the Israeli withdrawal from the Rafah border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, Palestinian sources reported on Monday.

An informed Palestinian source said that Suleiman will ensure the Palestinians that they have Egypt’s support for their demand that Israel completely withdraw from this crossing point, which is the only exit from Gaza other than into Israel. 

On Wednesday, Suleiman is to meet with Israeli officials including the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz to follow up on the agreement over the Philadelphi route between Egypt and Israel.  The agreement was was approved by the Israeli cabinet on Sunday and is expected to be approved by the Knesset on Wednesday.

Suleiman supervised the internal dialogue among Palestinian factions in Cairo this March, which resulted in the declaration of calm until the end of the 2005.  He is expected to deliver a speech to the Palestinian Legislative Council on behalf of the Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, in which he will point out the Palestinian performance during the evacuation of the settlements from the Gaza Strip.

Israel insisted on keeping control over the Rafah border crossing. Some Israeli security officials suggested moving the crossing terminal to an Israeli-Egyptian-Palestinian joint location, in the southeast of the Gaza Strip.  This would create Israeli-Palestinian-Egyptian control over the crossing point.

Israel made the same demands regarding the crossing between the West Bank and Jordan after the redeployment under the Oslo accords.  It maintained Israeli control over the bridge to Jordan, which is the only exit for Palestinians to a country other than Israel.

Israel had and still has full control over the bridge. Palestinians have no say over who is allowed to enter or leave the West Bank. This is the major Palestinian concern in the case of the Rafah crossing.