WASHINGTON, (AFP) — The United States will work to ensure that turmoil in Egypt does not create “new dangers for Israel or the region,” a top US diplomat said in prepared testimony to a key congressional committee.
“One constant in a changing region is our unwavering support for Israel’s security,” Deputy Secretary of State Jim Steinberg said in a written statement to the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee.
“Where Israel has already made peace, we will work with focus and vigor to preserve and deepen it and to make clear that we count on governments that have made peace with Israel to sustain their commitments,” he said.
“We are committed to ensuring that political changes on Israel’s borders do not create new dangers for Israel or the region,” said Steinberg, who was appearing at a hearing on the situations in Lebanon and Egypt.
His comments came one day after Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak met US President Barack Obama’s most senior national security aides at the White House
Barak sat down with a high-powered line up of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Obama’s national security advisor Tom Donilon, the White House said in a statement.
With the Mubarak regime under threat of collapse, Israel fears a power vacuum could be exploited by Islamist elements determined to rescind the 1979 peace treaty between the two countries.
The US drive to forge peace between Israel and the Palestinians had yielded little progress even before the Egypt crisis, which appears to have upended a host of American strategic assumptions in the Middle East.
But at the State Department on Wednesday, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat met George Mitchell, following a similar meeting between the US regional envoy and Israeli negotiator Yitzhak Molho last week.
“We are going to continue to engage the parties in the coming days and weeks to continue our efforts to work on the substantive issues behind the process,” said State Department spokesman Philip Crowley.
In his prepared testimony, Steinberg said Washington expected Egypt “to continue to exhibit responsible regional leadership” and notably promote “continued stability on its borders.”