Last Updated: Tue Nov 02, 2010 18:01 pm (KSA) 15:01 pm (GMT)

Israel, US sign anti-Gaza arms smuggling deal

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (R) signed the deal with Israeli FM Tzipi Livni
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (R) signed the deal with Israeli FM Tzipi Livni

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Friday a deal signed with Israel would help prevent smuggling of arms into Gaza and ultimately would contribute towards a "durable ceasefire."

Rice signed a memorandum of understanding with Israel's Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni who said both the United States and Israel had agreed on a series of steps to stop Hamas from rearming.

"The steps that we and other members of the international community can take will contribute to a durable ceasefire," said Rice.

Livni said the accord was one of a series of actions designed to halt the arms smuggling into Gaza. "For a cessation of hostilities to be durable, there must be an end to the smuggling of weapons into Gaza," she said.

The deal involves information-sharing, technical assistance and the use of various U.S. "assets" to prevent arms from getting to Hamas either from air, land or sea.

Last-minute mission

 The steps that we and other members of the international community can take will contribute to a durable ceasefire, 
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice

A U.S. official who asked not to be named said it could include the use of detection equipment, aerial surveillance and possibly the deployment of vessels from NATO countries to prevent maritime smuggling.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said no U.S. personnel were expected to be stationed in Gaza or in Egypt under the deal.

"The idea here is to change the reality on the ground," McCormack said of the 2 1/2-page agreement, which he said could serve as a model for agreements with the French and British.

The agreement was designed to ensure "Hamas is not able to be resupplied via sea, land or air," he said.

The Palestinian death toll from the Israeli air-and-ground offensive launched on Dec. 27 has risen to at least 1,145 and there were more than 5,100 wounded, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza. A Palestinian rights group put the civilian death toll at around 700.

Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert dispatched Livni late Thursday on a last-minute mission "to sign the comprehensive US-Israeli agreement," his office said in a statement from Jerusalem.

The top Israeli diplomat is also due to meet members of the U.S. Congress, the Israeli official said.

Livni's trip follows intensive discussions in recent days between senior U.S. and Israeli officials, including a phone conversation between Rice and Olmert on Thursday.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Rice said that the United States is working with Israel and regional partners to establish a durable ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

"We are discussing with the Israelis and with others what we can do to bolster the possibilities of getting to the durable ceasefire that we are all seeking," Rice said.

"We are working with regional partners and also with the Israelis."

Comments »

Post Your Comment »

Social Media »