Twelve lawmakers from key congressional panels warned against pulling U.S. troops out of an international peacekeeping force on the Sinai Peninsula in an open letter dated May 13, Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported Sunday.
The 12 lawmakers, including chairs and ranking members in foreign affairs and armed services, came out with a bipartisan message of support to the force established in 1981 to supervise the implementation of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty of 1979.
They describe the peace treaty as an "anchor of stability" in a volatile region, preventing more fighting between former rivals for decades and sparing generations of soldiers from bloodshed.
The letter to State Secretary Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper argue that the Multinational Force and Observers in Sinai, has been "vital to the peace treaty’s durability."
It said the historic agreement and its legitimacy in the eyes of both Cairo and Jerusalem were largely a product of American leadership in the mission - a position that they urge the U.S. to maintain.
The letter followed earlier reports by the Wall Street Journal that the U.S. Defense Department was considering the withdrawal of forces out of Sinai as part of a cost-cutting effort.
The move was said to be vehemently opposed by the State Department as well as Israel, which were concerned the move could pave the way to the mission's unraveling at a time of increased terrorist activity in the area.
Egypt has long been fighting an insurgency in Sinai, which greatly escalated in 2014 as the secessionist insurgents pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, prompting Cairo to start a massive operation in the restive peninsula in 2018.
First published: 11:02 , 05.18.20