U.S. Must Consider Ending $2 Billion Aid to Egypt
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has pointed to new alarming signs of deterioration of the situation in Egypt and Egyptian/Israeli relations. In recent days, Egypts state-owned natural gas company said that it is ending a 2005 deal to export gas to Israel because of a payment dispute. Israeli officials responded by warning that the termination cast a new shadow over the bilateral peace treaty. The gas pipeline to Israel has been bombed and disrupted over a dozen times since the fall of the Mubarak regime last year. Israeli Finance Minister, Yuval Steinitz, has described the cancellation as a dangerous precedent that overshadows the peace agreements between Israel and Egypt (David D. Kirkpatrick, New Brotherhood candidate pitched in to Egypt race, New York Times, April 22, 2012).
Also, the Muslim Brotherhood presidential candidate, Mohamed Mursi, has said that Egypts next president cant be like his predecessor [Hosni Mubarak], he can’t be a follower who executes policies put to him from outside, while his aide has said that Mursi, if elected president, would not meet with the Israeli president (Edmund Blair & Tamim Elyam, New Brotherhood candidate pitched in to Egypt race, Reuters, April 21, 2012).
In addition, terrorist infiltration into Sinai has become so dangerous that Israeli officials are warning Israeli tourists to leave immediately on account of a critical and immediate threat of a terrorist attack. A statement from Israels anti-terrorist bureau states, All Israelis in the Sinai are called upon to leave the region and return to Israel … Based on information in our possession, terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip are continuing to work energetically to carry out terrorist attacks against Israeli targets on Sinai’s beaches in the immediate term (Israelis told to leave Sinai over attacks fears, Yahoo News, April 21, 2012).
Lastly, the Egyptian Grand Mufti, Ali Gomaa, has been criticized by the Muslim Brotherhood for visiting Jerusalem last week. Gomaa, who was in Jerusalem for the inauguration of a new chair in Islamic studies under the aegis of Jordan, stated that his trip was a show of solidarity with Palestinians and their claims to the Israeli-held east Jerusalem and to show that Israel cant stop Arabs and Muslims from going to the citys Al-Aqsa mosque. The Muslim Brotherhood said that It is not acceptable for such a visit to take place after the revolution, when both official and popular positions reject having any relations with the Israeli entity as long as occupation, settlements and the siege of Gaza continue (Dahlia Mohamed, Egypt top imams trip to Jerusalem causes stir, Daily Nation, April 23, 2012).
This comes on top of other warning signs in recent months:
- The Egyptian legislatures lower house unanimously endorsed demands calling for the deportation of the Israeli ambassador in Egypt; halting export of natural gas to Israel and reexamining the Camp David peace accords with Israel.
- The deputy leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Rashad al-Bayoumi said that the Muslim Brotherhood did not sign the peace accords … We will take the proper legal steps in dealing with the peace deal … To me, it isnt binding at all. The people will express their opinion on the matter … On no condition will we recognize Israel. It is an enemy entity, an exploiting, criminal occupier … I won’t allow myself to sit down with a criminal … We wont cooperate with Israel in any situation.
- Egyptian presidential candidate Hazem Sallah Abu Ismail stated that Egyptians should blockade the Gulf of Aqaba in an effort to stifle Israels trade with the eastern half of the world.
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, One doesnt need to be a detective to see that the situation in Egypt is steadily worsening in the post-Mubarak era, as the ZOA predicted at the time of Mubarak fall from power last year.
The natural gas pipeline with Israel has been blown more than a dozen times in the past year. Government-owned Egyptian companies do not decide on canceling a contract without government knowledge and approval. Reports suggest the cancelation could be a form of pressure on Israel to drop a suit for damages for past disruptions of supplies. Whatever the case, the Egyptian/Israeli relationship is clearly deteriorating.
The words of the Muslim Brotherhood presidential candidate make it clear that the idea of peace with Israel is seen as a foreign dictate, rather than a binding contractual agreement between the two countries. The same emerges from the criticism of the Egyptian mufti for merely visiting Jerusalem. Add to this the danger to Israelis from terrorist attacks in Sinai and it is clear that the relationship is in a state of collapse, even if the treaty has not been formally canceled.
The 1979 Egypt-Israel peace treaty is a legal, contractual undertaking by both sides. It requires the faithful performance of all treaty obligations. It is both absurd and unthinkable that Egypt can abrogate the peace treaty, yet retain all of what it gained by signing it, while Israel is deprived of all it gained under the treaty.
Israel therefore must make it clear that, in the event that Egypt cancels the Egypt-Israel peace treaty, Israel major concessions will no longer be legally binding. This means that it would consider retaking the Sinai desert; its four oil wells, originally developed by Israel; re-establish its former air force bases there; and re-build Yamit, the Jewish town from which 5,000 Jews were forcibly removed as a condition of the treaty.
We also urge that, if Egypt cancels the treaty, the U.S. must also consider canceling all further aid to Cairo and removing its military advisers, who have expertly trained Egypts armed forces. The more than $60 billion in aid over three decades has enabled Egypt to build up one of the largest armies in the Middle East, twice the size of Israels, with over 1,000 tanks, 300 F-15 fighter jets, over a dozen warships, missiles and chemical weapons.