By YAAKOV KATZ, HERB KEINON AND HILARY LEILA KRIEGER
Hamas gunmen guard the gate of the border crossing between the Gaza Strip and
The video footage - which allegedly shows Egyptian security forces assisting Hamas terrorists cross illegally into
The House and Senate agreed late Sunday on a 2008 foreign aid bill that would hold back $100 million in military aid for Egypt, out of a $1.3 billion allocation, unless US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice certifies that concerns about smuggling weapons into Gaza and human rights abuses have been addressed. It is the first time that Egyptian military aid, supplied since the Camp David Accords, would potentially be restricted.
However, the newly agreed bill weakens language in an earlier House bill, which would have held back $200m. without certification. In addition, it added a provision allowing the restriction to be waived - and the aid to flow as usual - if Rice deems that holding back the aid to
'Mubarak prefers that weapons go to
A delegation of American military engineers recently toured the Egyptian side of the Philadelphi Corridor and was shown a number of tunnels that the Egyptians tried to portray as being too small to smuggle weapons through. The delegation was not convinced by the Egyptians and demanded that
According to recent assessments, since Hamas's takeover of
The new version of the 2008 foreign aid bill is likely to be approved by Congress in the coming days. However,
If Bush vetoes the bill, funding would presumably be maintained at 2007 levels for the time being. In that case, any restriction on Egyptian military aid would be a moot point in the immediate future.
Israeli government officials explained that stepped-up Israeli action vis-a-vis the Americans on the smuggling issue coincides with a feeling in Jerusalem that Egypt is trying to "get closer" to Hamas.
The assessment in
Likewise, the official said,
"The Egyptians don't want to push too hard against Hamas, so they don't start pushing back," one official said.
The official said that
In response to the increasing number of violations, the Foreign Ministry filed a harsh complaint with
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