Livni slams Egypt over Gaza smuggling

Israel’s foreign minister slammed Egypt for its failure to stop arms smuggling to the Gaza Strip.

Tzipi Livni appeared before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday and was questioned about Cairo’s commitment to stopping arms and cash from reaching Hamas-run Gaza from the Egyptian Sinai.

“Egypt’s role at the Annapolis conference was positive, but this does not negate the fact that their activity on the Philadelphi corridor is dismal and problematic,” Livni was quoted as saying, in reference to the porous Gaza-Egypt border.

She added that Hamas’ continued strength means problems for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party, with whom Israel is trying to revive negotiations.

“This harms efforts to make progress in the peace process as it detracts from the ability of the pragmatic forces in the Gaza Strip and Judea and Samaria to control the territory,” Livni said.

Livni’s remarks may cast a shadow over the trip by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak to Egypt on Wednesday for top-level security talks.

Cairo insists it is doing its utmost to stop the Gazan smuggling, but that it is circumscribed by a border garrison limited in size under the 1978 Camp David peace accords between Egypt and Israel.

Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee member Yuval Steinitz said during Monday’s session that Israel has surveillance footage showing Egyptian forces helping in the movement of contraband into Gaza, but that the Olmert government has not allowed this to be distributed in the United States, where it might prompt Congress to trim annual aid to Cairo.

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