A senior Israeli official on Thursday described the peace treaty between Egypt and the Jewish state as “the most significant foundation stone for security in the entire Middle East,” and minimized the role a 20% reduction in U.S. military aid to Egypt would have on that relationship, as common interests in combating lawlessness in the Sinai have led to the most “co-ordination, co-operation and communication” between the two countries’ security forces “in the past two decades.”
The 1979 peace treaty, negotiated together with the U.S. at Camp David, “is in everyone’s interests, beyond just Egypt and Israel, there is a global interest for that treaty to be maintained,” said the senior Israeli official, in an interview with The Algemeiner.
The agreement led to Israel returning sovereignty over the Sinai to Egypt, and both countries were rewarded with foreign aid deals from the U.S. where the military component, most of Israel’s, and part of Egypt’s package, are effectively rebates to buy different classes of hardware from U.S. defense companies.
While the decision by the U.S. administration on Wednesday to hold back a disbursement of $260 million, out of some $1.5 billion destined to Egypt, may allow the U.S. to dictate by veto how its largesse can be spent, the co-ordinated defense operations in the Sinai are too important to both Cairo and Jerusalem to suffer from the aid cut, the official said.
“From our point of view, the Sinai, on the one hand threatens to be, rather than already is, a lawless land, an ungoverned territory. On the other hand, it is critical there’s stability there, and the Egyptian Army has done great things in the past two months, more than they haven’t done in the past two decades,” the official said.
“It is in our interest for the Egyptian army to be able to ensure stability and law and order at a minimum in the Sinai — I understand Sinai is not their number #1 issue, but is our #1, and where we work closest together,” the official said.
Since the Egyptian Army took power away from the elected Muslim Brotherhood leadership in July, Egypt and Israel have seen a tremendous surge in violence in the Sinai, a vast badlands, where Brotherhood hardliners, militant groups and Hamas fighters, who enter the Sinai from Gaza, work together to terrorize military forces and border control outposts. High-level communication and meetings between the directors of the security forces of both countries were reported by the press and soldiers co-ordinated efforts in July and August to close hundreds of the tunnels that connect Sinai to Gaza, cutting off smuggling revenues used to pay for black market arms caches, including anti-aircraft missiles and motorized paragliders.
Internally, Israel split up responsibilities, with the IDF collecting intelligence from Sinai balloons, cameras stationed along the Sinai border fence and satellite photographs, while a Shin Bet team focuses on preventing planned attacks from being carried out. Shin Bet estimates there are 15 militant groups operating …read more
Source: The Algemeiner