Team Obama rewards Egypt's Islamists

Leo Rennert
Earlier this week, the newly elected Egyptian Parliament adopted a resolution calling for a belligerent policy toward Israel that would put a formal end to three decades of peaceful relations.

Among other things, the resolution urged the deportation of Israel's ambassador to Cairo, a halt to the export of Egyptian natural gas to Israel, a re-examination of the Camp David peace accords, adoption of ''all forms of resistance'' against the Jewish state and mobilization of the Arab League in opposition to the  "Judaization of Jerusalem."

For good measure, the Parliament also gave a green light to direct assistance to the Palestinians in the context that the "Zionist regime is the primary enemy of Egypt."

This chilling turnabout of Egyptian foreign policy was engineered by a coalition of Islamist parties -- the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists -- plus leftist parties.

The Zionist Organization of America immediately sent word to a U.S. congressional delegation visiting Cairo, urging the lawmakers to take up this issue with Egyptian authorities and to warn them that formalization of the resolution as government policy would mean an immediate cutoff of U.S. aid.

It turns out, however, that ZOA President Morton Klein, in his appeal to House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, who's heading the visiting American delegation, may just be whistling in the dark.

Because no sooner had the new Egyptian Parliament formulated its hostile stance toward Israel than the State Department nevertheless proceeded with plans to reopen the multi-billion-dollar U.S. aid pipeline to Egypt -- with Pelosi's full approbation.

In its March 16 edition, the New York Times reports that, as part of an apparent quid-pro-quo that resulted in the release of seven Americans working for international groups in Egypt, the State Department is set to resume normal delivery of U.S. military aid to Egypt ("U.S. Plans to Resume Military Aid to Egypt, Despite Human Rights Concerns" by Steven Lee Myers, page A6).

Congress has tied such aid to Egypt's performance on human rights -- a condition which would normally bar such assistance in view of the rise of radical, intolerant Islamism.  But Congress also gave the administration the right to waive this condition and, according to the Times, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is ready to exercise this waiver, citing "national security."

And she evidently has the blessing of Pelosi, who rejected ZOA's appeal and instead declared that "the strength of Egypt, its stability, is important to the region and the world and we want to be helpful in that regard."

Getting the detained Americans back to safety was an understandable move by the administration for which it deserves high praise.

But what about the safety of Israel in an increasingly hostile region?  To Team Obama and Nancy Pelosi, that apparently is just chopped liver.

 

At a minimum, the administration should have waited until after next month's Egyptian presidential elections to determine the outlook of the winner regarding relations with Israel before plunging ahead with renewed American generosity that may end up giving weapons that might eventually be used against Israel.

Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers

Earlier this week, the newly elected Egyptian Parliament adopted a resolution calling for a belligerent policy toward Israel that would put a formal end to three decades of peaceful relations.

Among other things, the resolution urged the deportation of Israel's ambassador to Cairo, a halt to the export of Egyptian natural gas to Israel, a re-examination of the Camp David peace accords, adoption of ''all forms of resistance'' against the Jewish state and mobilization of the Arab League in opposition to the  "Judaization of Jerusalem."

For good measure, the Parliament also gave a green light to direct assistance to the Palestinians in the context that the "Zionist regime is the primary enemy of Egypt."

This chilling turnabout of Egyptian foreign policy was engineered by a coalition of Islamist parties -- the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists -- plus leftist parties.

The Zionist Organization of America immediately sent word to a U.S. congressional delegation visiting Cairo, urging the lawmakers to take up this issue with Egyptian authorities and to warn them that formalization of the resolution as government policy would mean an immediate cutoff of U.S. aid.

It turns out, however, that ZOA President Morton Klein, in his appeal to House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, who's heading the visiting American delegation, may just be whistling in the dark.

Because no sooner had the new Egyptian Parliament formulated its hostile stance toward Israel than the State Department nevertheless proceeded with plans to reopen the multi-billion-dollar U.S. aid pipeline to Egypt -- with Pelosi's full approbation.

In its March 16 edition, the New York Times reports that, as part of an apparent quid-pro-quo that resulted in the release of seven Americans working for international groups in Egypt, the State Department is set to resume normal delivery of U.S. military aid to Egypt ("U.S. Plans to Resume Military Aid to Egypt, Despite Human Rights Concerns" by Steven Lee Myers, page A6).

Congress has tied such aid to Egypt's performance on human rights -- a condition which would normally bar such assistance in view of the rise of radical, intolerant Islamism.  But Congress also gave the administration the right to waive this condition and, according to the Times, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is ready to exercise this waiver, citing "national security."

And she evidently has the blessing of Pelosi, who rejected ZOA's appeal and instead declared that "the strength of Egypt, its stability, is important to the region and the world and we want to be helpful in that regard."

Getting the detained Americans back to safety was an understandable move by the administration for which it deserves high praise.

But what about the safety of Israel in an increasingly hostile region?  To Team Obama and Nancy Pelosi, that apparently is just chopped liver.

 

At a minimum, the administration should have waited until after next month's Egyptian presidential elections to determine the outlook of the winner regarding relations with Israel before plunging ahead with renewed American generosity that may end up giving weapons that might eventually be used against Israel.

Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers