The Israeli Knesset approved on Wednesday on Wednesday the Israeli – Egyptian Philadilphi deal, to deploy 750 Egyptian troops at the Philadilphi route, on the Gaza Egypt borders, after Israeli completes its withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

The deal was approved by 53 to 28, no abstention.

Likud minister Limor Livnat and Tzachi Hanegbi, were absent from the Knesset during the voting; the two ministers voted against the deal in the government meeting.

Meanwhile, Shinui Mk’s voted for the deal, while their leader MK Joseph Lapid voted against it.

Arab parties in the Knesset and Meretz-Yahad party supported the deal.

Israeli Defense Minister, Shaul Mofaz opened the debate at which leads to the vote saying that it does not pose a threat to the security of Israel.

“Keeping our soldiers at the route after pulling out from Gaza, will risk the lives of our troops”, Mofaz added.

Mofaz also said that directly after the Knesset approves the agreement, the Egyptian troops will be deployed along the borders, and replace the Egyptian border police which are stationed there, which will enable Israel remove all of its forces from the Gaza Strip.

Chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Likud MK Yuval Steinitz sent a letter to all Knesset members sharply criticizing the government for allocating 38 minutes for the agreements’ discussion during the Knesset session.

Steinitz also slammed the government for not inviting the head of the Shin Bet security service and the GOC Southern Command at the Israeli army to attend the Knesset vote.

According to Steinitz, senior military officials appose the deal in its current form, but they fear that their positioned will be articulated.

Earlier this week, the Israeli head of the National Security Council, Major General (res.) Giora Eiland, publicly criticized the agreement. 

Eiland argued that this agreement casts shadows on the way Israel makes decisions which affects its national security.

Also on Wednesday, Egyptian Intelligence Chief, Omar Suleiman, met with the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, and the Israeli Defense Minister, Shaul Mofaz, before the Knesset debated the agreement.

Suleiman told Sharon that the Egyptian troops will not allow any arms to be smuggled into the Gaza Strip, adding that Egypt will not allow any arms-trafficking since it is an Egyptian interest to keep the Sinai desert an arms-free zone.  

Suleiman also met with Mofaz and discussed security related issues. Mofaz stated that the Egyptians should make sure that the Palestinian Authority is fighting what he described as terrorism.

Mofaz stated that the deployment of Egyptian troops on the Gaza borders speeds the Israeli military evacuation from the Gaza Strip.

Also, Mofaz reported that the deployment of 750 Egyptian border policemen at the Philadilphi Route does not pose any threats on Israel.

Meanwhile, the Israeli radio reported that 45 Egyptian security officers arrived in the Gaza Strip to train the Palestinian security forces. 

Mofaz added that Israeli will not allow the entry of Egyptian tanks and heavy gear at the Route, and that there will be not military centers, tunnels, posts or ammunition storages.