The vice-chairman of the Senate Republican Conference cautioned the administration in putting too much stock in Egypt’s potential helpfulness in the Israel-Gaza conflict.
When asked on ABC’s This Week if President Mohammed Morsi, a longtime Muslim Brotherhood member, could be helpful in steering Hamas toward ending the rain of rockets on Israel, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said, “I don’t know that he has.”
“Clearly we’ve benefited from almost 40 years now of having peace partners between Israel and Egypt even though the Egyptian government never told the people of Egypt how important this was to maintain this peaceful relationship. And we don’t have that right now,” Blunt said.
“I think the prime minister of Egypt — not Morsi, but the prime minister went to Gaza, high-ranking person went to Gaza last week, met with them. They’ve expressed all kinds of sympathy.”
Noting the resolution of Congress to stand by Israel and its right to defend itself, the senator noted, “But we’ve got people who have traditionally been our allies in trying to maintain the peace in Turkey, in Tunisia, in Egypt that now are encouraging the things that clearly will not keep the peace if Hamas is allowed to continue to do what Israel can’t, frankly, allow it to continue to do.”
He guessed Iran is involved with funneling weapons to Hamas in Gaza. “My guess is there has to be some tacit involvement in Egypt and the border or these things wouldn’t be getting in to Gaza,” Blunt continued. “And there’s all kinds of public encouragement of what we would consider terrible misdeeds perpetrated on innocent people in Israel coming out of Gaza.”
“I think Iran is a very dangerous country, very dangerous to Israel, to the Middle East and also to the United States. They export terrorism. And they also have the ability to manufacture rockets and missiles,” said Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), ranking Dem on the House Intelligence Committee. “I have had a conversation with the ambassador to Israel. Clearly the rockets that were sent in are Iranian rockets. They support Hamas. And I think that they’re very serious.”
Ruppersberger said he believes Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan can be a bigger player than Morsi in helping stop the Palestinian instigation.
“They’ve become very powerful. They have a lot more influence in the Arab area,” he said. “And I think Erdogan is going to be a key player if there’s going to be any issue of calming down the hostility as it relates to Hamas.”