Tension builds between Israel and Egypt

Wednesday, December 26, 2007 |  by Staff Writer

The diplomatic war of words between Israel and Egypt continues to escalate.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Monday pointed out that Egypt's failure to curb the smuggling of terrorist arms into the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip is severely harming peace efforts with the Palestinians.

Earlier this month, Israel's Foreign Ministry sent to its embassy in Washington video footage showing Egyptian soldiers actually assisting Palestinian terrorists to reenter Gaza. Israel ultimately decided against presenting the evidence to Congress in order to bolster efforts there to freeze American military aid to Egypt.

Israeli military officials told Ynet that additional video footage exists proving Egypt's complicity in the entry of terrorist arms into Gaza. One officer said the smuggled arms and military know-how are directly contributing to the daily terrorist rocket attacks on southern Israel.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak traveled to Egypt on Wednesday to confront the government there with the incriminating evidence and to demand that Egypt do more to disrupt and prevent Hamas' military build-up in Gaza.

But Cairo has responded to the charges against it by insisting Israel mind its own business. Singling out Livni, a statement issued by the Egyptian Foreign Ministry on Tuesday advised the Israeli foreign ministry to focus on peace talks with the Palestinians and not become involved in matters she does not understand.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Gheit turned on the pro-Israel lobby in the US on Wednesday, saying the Jewish state's supporters in Washington are straining relations between Egypt and America.

Gheit accused the Israel lobby of maliciously trying to harm Egypt by lobbying Congress to cut military aid to the Arab nation over its failures along the Gaza border.

Egypt further tried to turn the tables this week by insisting that it is Israel's construction of apartments in Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem that is hindering peace.

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