Egypt is deploying thousands of troops in the Sinai Peninsula, despite the Camp David peace deal, which insists that the area remain largely demilitarized. Defense Minister Ehud Barak has authorized the move, with backing from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
“Sometimes you have to subordinate strategic considerations to tactical needs,” the Economist quoted Barak as saying.
Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin warned Friday that Barak and Netanyahu may not be authorized to make the decision. “It could very well be that the permission given to bring Egyptian troops into Sinai, which was declared an demilitarized zone in the peace accords, requires Knesset approval,” he said.
“If that is the case, I will ask to bring it before the Knesset. An agreement between the Defense Minister and the Prime Minister, or even cabinet approval, is not enough,” Rivlin stated.
He noted that the government was required to get the Knesset's permission before changing security arrangements along the Philadelphi Corridor near Gaza.
The increased Egyptian presence in Sinai comes as Egyptians have shown increasing hostility to Israel. Demonstrators rioted outside the Israeli embassy in Cairo this week after Egyptian soldiers were killed in the crossfire between Israel and Gaza terrorists.
The Muslim Brotherhood is planning a “million man march” against Israel for Friday. Two days ago, a senior Muslim Brotherhood cleric declared that ordinary Egyptians are obligated to kill “Zionists” if they encounter them.
The Islamist group is poised to gain a major share in government in Egypt's next elections.
Barak argues that without the Egyptian presence in Sinai, Israel will be under threat from Gaza terrorists who have transferred their base to the area. Last week terrorists with Gaza's PRC and Islamic Jihad launched a series of attacks from Sinai, murdering six civilians and two soldiers.
The new troops in Sinai “are unlikely ever to be withdrawn by any Egyptian government,” the Economist notes.