Don’t stop the supply of 10 advanced Apache combat helicopters to the Egyptian army, Israel is urging Washington and a number of senior congressmen. A high-ranking official in Jerusalem said Israel clarified that supplying the helicopters is crucial to Egypt’s fight Against jihadist organizations in the Sinai, and will improve regional security.
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Since the coup in 2013, during which the army headed by the present defense minister, Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, ousted President Mohammed Morsi and outlawed Morsi’s movement, the Islamic Brotherhood, American military aid to Egypt has been on ice. Since signing the peace treaty with Egypt, each year it had received $1.3 billion from the United States.
However, there is considerable opposition in Congress to renewing military aid to Egypt and supplying the copters. The opponents, a rainbow coalition of Democrats and Republicans, say that to get back the aid, Egypt should be required to hold democratic elections and the army has to transfer the reins to an elected democratic government in an orderly fashion.
Collaboration on security between Israel and Egypt has improved since Morsi’s ouster. In recent months Israel has been intensely lobbying on behalf of Egypt’s interim government. Israel tried to prevent the U.S. from suspending military aid to the Egyptian army; failing at that, now it’s trying to persuade the government and Congress to resume the aid, so the helicopters deal can go through.
The senior Israeli official says that Israel’s ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, and other embassy diplomats talked about the matter with high-ranking American officials during the last week. Dermer also brought up the subject in meetings with leading congressmen.
According to Al-Monitor, Dermer recently met with Republicans in Congress who support Israel, and praised the new Egyptian leadership at great length.
In parallel, the issue of American aid to Egypt has come up in talks between top officials at the Israeli Prime Minister's Office and their counterparts in the White House and Pentagon.
As cooperation between the new government in Egypt and Israel improves, last week a delegation of top Egyptian army officers and officials from the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs visited Israel.
A senior Israeli official said the delegation was here for a week, holding meetings, hearing reviews of the security situation and even touring in the country. The delegation was hosted by the Israel Defense Forces Planning Directorate and the Foreign Ministry. However because of labor sanctions at the ministry, the Foreign Ministry handled no aspect of the delegation's visit. Its members were hosted instead by the Planning Branch commander, General Nimrod Shefer, and the head of strategic planning, Brig. Gen. Assaf Orion.