Israel offers its troops to serve as United Nations peacekeepers
ISRAEL is in talks over the country's troops joining United Nations peacekeeping forces.
Israel is not among 117 nations to field peacekeepers in foreign conflict zones.
Some Israeli officials attribute this to a history of rocky relations with the UN, whose General Assembly has passed resolutions against Israeli policy.
Mark Regev, a spokesman for Israel's foreign ministry, said that the idea of Israeli troops serving as UN peacekeepers had been raised in the 1990s but received new momentum recently.
"In light of our improved standing at the United Nations, we are exploring greater membership and involvement in a number of UN agencies. These talks are preliminary only," Mr Regev said.
Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in September after 38 years of occupation has sweetened its reception at the UN, a patron of the Middle East peace "road map".
Kofi Annan, the UN secretary-general, cancelled a trip to Tehran this month after the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said Israel should be "wiped off the map".
Mr Regev said Israeli troops, seasoned by several Middle East wars, could be especially useful in areas such as mine-clearing.
Manca Francesco, a Jerusalem-based spokesman for the UN Truce Supervision Organisation, said he was aware of the talks on Israel supplying UN peacekeeping troops. "I know that this has been presented, but at this stage it has not yet been formalised," he said.
Five years of fighting with the Palestinians - during which Israel resisted Arab demands that UN peacekeepers be posted to the occupied West Bank and Gaza - saw a slew of resolutions against Israeli policy passed by the General Assembly.
Israel has however been able to rely on strong support from the United States on the UN Security Council to veto the resolutions.
Yedioth Ahronoth, an Israeli newspaper, said any decision to deploy troops with UN peacekeepers would require changing laws that currently limit the military's mandate to national security.
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