U.S. lawmakers: Financial aid to Egypt conditional
Two American lawmakers said on Wednesday that the United States could make financial aid to Egypt conditional on Cairo doing more to prevent smuggling of arms into the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. The two lawmakers -- Republican Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and Democratic Representative Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island -- both sit on the powerful appropriations committees that control U.S. foreign aid spending.
"It's an intolerable situation for Egypt to be complicitous in letting arms be smuggled to Hamas. They (Egypt) get a lot of U.S. largesse, a lot of U.S. money, $2 billion a year," Specter told reporters in Jerusalem, according to Reuters.
"Egypt can do a lot more and if they don't, I think it would be appropriate to condition aid to them on that factor," Specter said. "We intend to take it up with the Egyptian officials." Earlier reports have indicated that of the $1.3 billion Egypt is to receive next year, $100 million will be withheld until Egypt takes further steps to destroy the smuggling tunnels that lead to Gaza Strip.
Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni infuriated Egyptian officials on Monday by accusing Cairo of doing a "terrible" job in securing the border, saying it strengthens "extremists" in Gaza Strip.