Report: US Threatens Cairo Aid Money Over Grapel, Tensions
Egyptian daily Al-Masry al-Youm reported Monday that Israel is behind a US bid to force Cairo to reduce tensions with Israel following a deadly border incident wherein at least three Egyptian soldiers were inadvertently killed by Israeli soldiers pursuing terrorists involved in a deadly terror attack that left 8 Israelis dead.
According to the report Washington has threatened to reduce aid to Cairo - which it was planning to dramatically increase - unless it releases Ilan Grapel, an Israeli-American tourist in Egypt who has been accused of being a Mossad spy.
Grapel was arrested at his downtown Cairo hotel by Egyptian state security officers in June on suspicion of working for Israeli intelligence to foment sectarian strife and gather intelligence on post-revolution Egypt.
The Emory University Law student, and dual Israeli-American citizen, traveled to Egypt this summer as part of his work for a charity helping African refugees.
His family, friends and the Israeli government have categorically denied that he was working as a spy in Egypt.
Earlier in the month, Egyptian Ambassador to Israel Yasser Rida said that there had been no new developments in Grapel's case, Israel Radio reported.
The paper also quoted Egyptian security expert Hamdi Bekheit as saying Israel was behind the move by the US in a bid to pressure Egypt to reduce its demands stemming for the border incident ten days ago.
The move comes on the heels of a vocal debate in the Egyptian parliament over whether Cairo should demand the return of the port city of Eilat, conquered by Israel in 1949's War of Independence and which Egypt ceded to Israel in the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty. Israel gave up the Sinai in the Camp David Accords.
It also comes as Egyptians demand the nullification of the accords and the re-militarization of the Sinai, which Washington has said it opposes out of concern such a move would destabilize the region – and possibly lead to war.