[On December 1, 2003, Israel Resource News Agency covered the “Geneva Initiative”, [See: http://israelvisit.co.il/cgi-bin/friendly.pl?url=Dec-06-03!geneva3] where “the head of the European Parliamentarian Delegation to the Geneva Initiative, Mr. Graham Watson, described the planned armed international force [which he described as a European Strike Force – db]that the US, Canada, the EU, the Scandinavian countries, Japan and Australia plan to dispatch to patrol the future borders which will run through the middle of Jerusalem and alongside Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Watson confirmed that Geneva Initiative mandates the creation of an international force which would actively prevent the Israeli army from pursuit of terrorists who escape into “Palestinian territory” since that international force is, according to the Geneva Initiative, designed to protect the “integrity of Palestinian territory”. – db]

The Gaza Strip-Egypt border will reopen only as part of an international agreement, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Monday, following media reports that Israel has agreed in principle to a European Union role in policing Gaza’s border crossing of Rafah.

“The (border) terminal will be open when there is an international agreement,” Abbas said.

Palestinian security forces sealed off Gaza’s southern border with Egypt early Sunday. The Palestinian commander for southern Gaza, Jamal Kaed, said he expected the border to be reopened within 48 hours but declined to elaborate.

Abbas said on Sunday the border was under control after the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) sealed all gaps in the 10-mile border and 2,000 security personnel deployed, effectively closing it. The border was quiet on Monday.

On the Egyptian side of the border, hundreds of troops with automatic rifles and armored vehicles took up positions. Under an agreement with Israel, Egypt was deploying 750 border guards to prevent the illegal crossing of goods and people.

“We want to do the right job at the right time because we want to act as a state, as a responsible authority,” Abbas said. “Therefore, we are following up on the subject seriously with our brothers in Egypt. Until we reach agreement, we should be patient.”

The PNA and Egypt have set up a joint security committee on control of the borderline, President Abbas’ security adviser Jebril Rajoub told reporters on Thursday.

Meanwhile senior Israeli officials told Reuters that a deal in principle had been reached with the EU for its personnel to work with Palestinian security forces and Egyptian police.

“This would be an EU security role, to prevent terrorists or their weaponry entering Gaza as part of the EU’s role in the global war on terror,” one Israeli official said.

Israel has long been reluctant to allow outside involvement in its conflict with the Palestinians, perceiving Europe, and indeed the world except its strategic US ally, as pro-Palestinian, Reuters noted.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told Reuters the PNA had agreed in principle to an EU presence on the Gaza-Egypt border “but the modalities and the definition of their role will have to be discussed and agreed.”

A spokesman for the Foreign Office in Britain, which holds the EU rotating presidency, said it was up to the Palestinians, Israelis and Egyptians to reach agreement.

“When they come up with some sort of plan, we are prepared to consider any proposal,” the spokesman said.

The PNA and Egypt were pushing Israel to agree to third party monitoring of border traffic as a way of re-opening a legal crossing on the Gaza frontier.

Senior Israeli “Defense” Ministry official Gen. Amos Gilad is expected to hold talks with Egypt’s chief of intelligence, Omar Sulaiman, and Egyptian military commanders in charge of the border with Gaza and Israel.

Palestinians Reject Planned Israeli ‘Security Zone’

Separately the Israeli “Defense” Minister Shaul Mofaz has ordered a security zone to run 150m deep into the Palestinian side of the northern Gaza Strip to create a no-man’s land to which access is forbidden for Palestinians.

Erakat said the establishment of the security zone would mean that the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip would continue.

“This shows that Israel is still an occupying power in Gaza and still motivated by the occupation mentality,” Erakat had said.

The armed wing of Hamas, Izzaddin al-Kassam, said in a statement that its members would resume attacks on Israeli targets if Israel insisted on setting up the security zone.

“The Zionist enemy’s step will compel us to continue our resistance and attacks on its soldiers by all means,” the statement said. “We will turn the area into another Shaba Farms and our snipers will target the Zionist soldiers there.

Thousands of Hamas fighters paraded with weapons through the streets of Gaza City on Sunday in the group’s largest show of force in years.

Similarly Islamic Jihad leader Khaled al-Batsh said his group rejected the security zone and threatened to resume attacks on Israel.

“Creating a security zone north of the Gaza Strip means Israeli control over the area,” he said. “We call on the international community to reject this project.”

For the first time since the Israeli pullout from Gaza, Israeli and Palestinian security officials met at the new Israeli district coordinating office at Beit Hanoon (Erez) on Sunday night, and discussed future coordination on civilian and security issues.