Israel expects another Palestinian war to erupt by thespring of 2006.

Israeli military sources said Palestinian insurgency groups plan to widen the war from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank.

They said military intelligence has assessed that Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, with support of the PA, would seek to produce and deploy short-range missiles in the West Bank.

On Tuesday, Israeli military intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Aharon Zeevi-Farkash told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that a new Palestinian war could erupt against Israel should PA efforts to obtain the rest of the West Bank fail. Zeevi-Farkash said such a war could break out in the spring of 2006.

“We are talking about a ticking bomb,” Zeevi-Farkash was quoted as saying in the briefing.

The general told the Knesset panel that Palestinian insurgency groups have been arming themselves and seeking to transfer weapons development and production capabilities from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank.

Zeevi-Farkash said the focus of Palestinian efforts was in the production of missiles and rockets.

The PA was expected to receive help for any new military campaign from Egypt.

Military sources said Egypt would become the leading military ally of the PA after Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank.

Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Yuval Steinitz said Egypt would sell the PA heavy weapons and platforms, including armored personnel carriers and anti-tank rockets. Steinitz said Egypt has already sought to export 100 APCs to the PA after the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

The committee chairman has opposed Israel’s proposal for the deployment of 750 Egyptian commandos along the 12-kilometer Gaza border with Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Steinitz convened three former leading military commanders who said such a move would mark the end of the demilitarization of the Sinai, a key element in the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty.

“They see this as a first concession of Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty and the start of a slippery slope,” Steinitz said of the three generals, who included former air force commander and Defense Ministry director-general David Ivry.

“This could result in an alliance between Egypt and the PA and the supply of weapons to the PA.”

In his briefing, Zeevi-Farkash said Iran was steadily advancing toward nuclear weapons.

The intelligence chief Iran would resume uranium enrichment and obtain technical capabilities in this field by the end of 2005.