PM Netanyahu addresses Congress fist 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Molly Riley)
The presence of terrorist organizations is increasing in Sinai because of Egypt's difficulty in exercising its sovereignty over the area, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Monday at a Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting.
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Netanyahu noted that Hamas is getting stronger in Egypt and has moved to run its operations from Syria to Egypt following anti-Assad uprisings there.
"Egypt has had difficulties exercising its sovereignty over Sinai. We saw this in the two gas pipe explosions
that occurred there," Netanyahu said. "What's happening in Sinai is that global terrorist organizations are meddling there and their presence is increasing because of the connection between Sinai and Gaza."
Netanyahu's comments came after Al-Hayyat satellite television station on Monday reported that over 400 al-Qaida members have made their way into the Sinai Peninsula, according to a senior Egyptian security official.
The security sources said the terrorists carried out "a number of attacks against [Egyptian] security forces in the Sinai city of El Arish," the official told Al-Hayyat.
During the FADC meeting, Netanyahu warned that, "The Muslim Brotherhood is also not insignificant in Egypt.
"We are concerned about what happens around us, especially in Egypt and Jordan," he said.
The prime minister stressed that the situation should be shared with the public in light of the changing reality in the region.
"This was true before I left the US and even more so after what I said there," he stated, adding that his objective in the US
was to try to unite all the parties over the importance of "recognizing Israel as the Jewish state" and that there should be an "Israeli military presence along the Jordan [River], that the refugee problem will not be solved in Jordan, and that Hamas is not committed to the principles of the Quartet."
Commenting on his meeting with Obama
, Netanyahu said "The conversation with the president was respectable. I told the president that we cannot accept the 1967 lines."
"The final version of Obama's comments was received on the day just before his speech [to AIPAC]
where he said the borders will not be the same 1967 lines," Netanyahu said. "There is very strong support for Israel coming from the American people."
On the changes taking place in the Arab world, Netanyahu said, "There is a huge jolt in the Arab world and it should be handled in a sober and responsible way.
Netanyahu also commented on peace proposals by the Arabs saying, "Not all Arab claims are a [peace] plan and not every instance in which we reject their principles means that we do not want to advance the peace process."
"It is first necessary to unite around our own plan," Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu also addressed the Ofer brothers affair
, in which the United States placed sanctions on the Israeli businessmen after revealing they had sold an oil tanker to Iran. The prime minister denied ever authorizing the Ofer brothers' business with Iran or having any prior knowledge of the affair.
The Prime Minister's Office did not authorize the contacts between the Ofers' company and Iran, Netanyahu said. "I found out about it from a journalist's question," adding that after checking with members of his staff authorized to deal with such matters, "there was no permission for any contact or delivery to Iran." "We have clear policies on this matter," he added. Also speaking at the committee meeting , opposition leader Tzipi Livni criticized Netanyahu for allowing diplomatic conditions the preceding Kadima government accomplished to deteriorate during his term as prime minister.
"We left you a supportive world, excellent relations with the US, a world which opposed the [Palestinian] right of return, [supported] leaving the [settlement blocks] in Israeli hands. Hamas was weak and the world was delegitimizing it," she said.
Today, she said to the prime minister, "you eroded all of that. You eroded the American commitment to Israel, Hamas has grown stronger and is receiving legitimacy." Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.