CAIRO: A bill calling for an end to US military aid to Egypt because it has not complied with the Camp David Accords was recently introduced to the US Congress by Democrat Anthony Weiner.
Named the Egyptian Counterterrorism and Reform Bill Act, the bill proposes sending the annual amount earmarked for military aid to Egypt in the form of economic aid instead starting 2010.
Weiner, representative from New York, proposed the bill because he believes Egypt has not complied with the tenets of the 1978 Camp David Accords with Israel. No other representatives co-sponsored the bill.
“The Camp David Accords were supposed to be a harbinger of peace, stability and democracy in the Middle East, but Egypt hasn’t upheld its end of the bargain. Before we send another dollar to arm Egypt, we should ensure that they live up to their responsibility to be a friend of Israel and a reliable US ally to the Middle East, Weiner said in a press statement on his website.
Weiner submitted the draft bill Jan. 26 and it has been referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Weiner also proposed the almost exact same bill in Oct. 2007, which was also referred to the same committee.
According to the text of the bill, it means to prohibit United States military assistance for Egypt and to express the sense of Congress that the amount of military assistance that would have been provided for Egypt for a fiscal year should be provided in the form of economic support fund assistance.
Egypt receives around $1.3 billion in military aid from the United States annually in addition to around $800 million in economic aid. Under the terms of the aid package, the amount of aid is scaled back by 5 percent each year.
In Weiner s press statement, the motivation behind the bill is that Egypt has failed to live up to its promises as stipulated by the Camp David Accords.
The reasons given are that weapons are being smuggled through tunnels into the Gaza strip; that Egypt is a member of the Arab League which boycotts and doesn’t recognize Israel, and that newspapers such as Al-Akhbar publish columns which foster hostile propaganda against Israel.
Former Washington bureau chief of Al-Ahram, Atef El-Ghamry, did not believe that the bill would pass through Congress, and that it would be buried in the House Committee for Foreign Affairs like the one before it.
This isn’t the first time that a pro-Israeli Congressman has presented a bill of this nature, he told Daily News Egypt, but it was never met with success in the past. Bills of this sort have always been pushed by the Israeli lobby in the US to put pressure on Egypt for various reasons.
He added, Yet if there are questions about the relationship of Egypt with Israel, there are also questions to be posed to Israel, such as the lack of a peace process with the Palestinians, the continued illegal building of settlements and the non-adherence to international agreements and resolutions.
When I was in the US, [former Israeli Labor Justice Minister] Yossi Beilin gave a speech criticizing the lobby for proposing such bills because he felt they were not in Israel s interest. I don’t think the US Congress would agree to such a proposal because they are quite aware of any potential repercussions that may arise as a result, El Ghamry said.