The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America today expressed disappointment at the failure of the House to pass the Lantos amendment to the Foreign Operations bill that would shift a portion of aid to Egypt from military to economic assistance. Egypt’s engagement in a military build up amid a lack of serious enemies in the region has been a cause for deep concern. There has been a pronounced increase in Egypt’s supplementation of its armed forces, including eleven new navy battle units and other weapons procurements. Despite the fact that Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, Egyptian military exercises are geared toward an Israeli “enemy” that does not exist.
We believe that the peace between Egypt and Israel should continually be strengthened, not undermined by arms build-ups or other threats such as the tunnels through which arms are smuggled to Gaza. The Egyptian people, who suffer great economic hardship, should continue to be supported with American assistance that will convert 1.3 billion dollars in annual U.S. military aid to economic assistance. This would not only be of enormous help to the Egyptian people, it would enhance the conditions for stability and peaceful coexistence in the Middle East.
We hope that the measure will be re-introduced and passed at an opportune time in the near future.