US $200 million aid to Egypt held

The US House of Representatives approved a foreign aid bill late Thursday with $2.4 billion in military aid to Israel but withholding $200 million in military funds for Egypt until the US Secretary of State certifies that Cairo is working to stop the smuggling of weapons into Gaza.The 2008 $34.2 billion foreign aid bill passed by a vote of 241-178. The Senate will be debating the language of the bill in the near future, though it is likely the White House will veto whatever version the Senate approves because of slated family planning aid.The House legislation also restricts funding to the Palestinians, in keeping with US law, that could reach terror organizations and conditions aid on the Palestinian pursuit of peace.

It provides $50 million in democracy promotion in Iran and directs the Secretary of State to restrict the supply of refined gas to Iran in order to prevent Teheran from acquiring nuclear weapons, according to an AIPAC report on the bill.

AIPAC welcomed the bill’s passage.

“US aid to Israel is critical to keeping our democratic ally Israel safe and strong and reaffirms our nation’s deep commitment to our friends in Israel,” AIPAC President Howard Friedman said in a statement.

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