US lawmakers oppose defense secretary’s push to withdraw US troops from Sinai
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US lawmakers oppose defense secretary’s push to withdraw US troops from Sinai

In bipartisan letter to Esper and secretary of state, 12 Congress members call American soldiers in peninsula ‘vital’ to upholding 1979 Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty

Multinational Force & Observers troops stand in formation during a change of command ceremony in Sinai, Egypt, July 15, 2019. (US Army/Staff Sgt. Kulani J. Lakanaria)
Multinational Force & Observers troops stand in formation during a change of command ceremony in Sinai, Egypt, July 15, 2019. (US Army/Staff Sgt. Kulani J. Lakanaria)

JTA — Twelve US lawmakers representing key Senate and House of Representatives committees called for continued US support of the international peacekeeping force in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula in a bipartisan letter last week.

The chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate committees on foreign relations, armed services and appropriations wrote to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper, saying that the international force, a lynchpin of the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, “has been vital to the peace treaty’s durability.”

Esper has reportedly been pushing for the withdrawal of American troops from the US-led force, despite opposition from Israel and the US State Department. He has called for the withdrawal as a cost-cutting measure and because the soldiers are at increased risk.

The letter’s signees include Senator Lindsay Graham and representatives Eliot Engel and Nita Lowey.

Troops from some 13 countries serve in the 1,100-member force, including around 400 Americans.

The Islamic State has increased its presence in the northern Sinai in recent years.

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