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Israel hopes US aid cuts won't harm peace

10 October 2013, 18:03

Jerusalem - Israel hopes the US decision to cut aid to Egypt will not affect the two countries' historic peace deal, a Cabinet minister said on Thursday, insisting that Israeli-Egyptian ties remain as close as ever.

Home Front Minister Gilad Erdan said Israel and Egypt are continuing to co-operate in military and political spheres and that there is "constant contact" between the two countries.

The minister spoke just hours after the US announced it was cutting hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Egypt in a response to the Egyptian military's ousting last summer of the nation's first freely elected president and the crackdown on protesters that has sunk the Arab nation further into turmoil.

While Erdan told Israel Army Radio that Israel has been "disturbed" by the threat of a US aid cut-off, he said he hopes there would be no ramifications to the Mideast peace accord.

"I hope this decision by the United States will not have an effect and won't be interpreted as something that should have an effect" on the treaty, he said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office declined to immediately comment on the aid cut-off.

Israel and Egypt's landmark 1979 peace accord is a pillar of stability between the two nations and was the first peace agreement Israel signed with an Arab state.

The deal granted Egypt billions of dollars in US military aid. But the threat of slashing it has raised concerns in Israel that its alliance with Egypt could be shaken and could even prompt Egypt to retaliate against Israel. Israel views the aid as an integral part of the peace accord.

Although diplomatic relations have never been close, Israel and Egypt's militaries have had a good working relationship. These ties have only strengthened since long time President Hosni Mubarack was ousted in a popular uprising two and a half years ago.

With both armies battling extremist jihadi groups in the Sinai Peninsula, near the Israeli border, Israeli security officials often insist that relations with their Egyptian counterparts are stronger than ever.

- AP


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