JERUSALEM – Israel is growing increasingly concerned about the concentration of al-Qaida and other global jihadists in the neighboring Egyptian Sinai Peninsula.
Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is questioning the wisdom of President Obama’s reported decision to withhold hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Egypt at a time the Egyptian military is fighting global jihadists in the Sinai, according to Israeli diplomatic sources.
The sources told WND that Netanyahu sent messages in recent days to Egypt’s interim president, Adly Mansou, and Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the country’s defense minister. The messages expressed Netanyahu’s opinion that U.S. sanctions could weaken the Egyptian military’s ability to fight al-Qaida.
The sources further stated a recent Israel Defense Force intelligence report has warned the Sinai is quickly turning into a central location for al-Qaida, including reports of large numbers of jihadists moving to the Sinai after fighting the regime in Syria. Some of the jihadists, the report related, are attempting to infiltrate the Gaza Strip.
The concern has led Israel to turn a blind eye as Egyptian warplanes bombard Salafist Islamic groups in the Sinai in technical violation of a peace treaty that calls for the area to be demilitarized.
Earlier this month, the State Department announced an unspecified cut back in the annual $1.5 billion in U.S. aid to Egypt.
Senior Senate leadership aides told Fox News the U.S. is holding back “a dozen F-16s; a similar number of AH-64 Apache helicopters; four M-1/A-1 tank kits (tanks that are shipped in pieces and assembled in the receiving country); and an unspecified number of Harpoon missiles (typically an anti-ship missile).”
Additionally, Fox News confirmed the Obama administration is withholding a planned transfer of $260 million in cash to the Egyptian government and has delayed a $300 million loan guarantee that was part of U.S. military financing programs.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said certain U.S. aid packages will be withheld from Egypt pending what she called “credible progress” toward a representative government through free and fair elections.