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US Lawmakers Urge Administration to Maintain Troops in Sinai

The chairmen and ranking members of the US House and Senate committees on foreign relations, armed services and appropriations have written a letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging the Trump Administration to maintain Washington’s troop presence in the Sinai Peninsula. Soldiers from more than a dozen countries serve in the 1,100-member unit, including some 400 Americans. The lawmakers described the international peacekeeping force as “vital to… [the] durability” of the landmark 1979 peace accord between Israel and Egypt. The Multinational Force and Observers was created two years later in order to “supervise the implementation of the security provisions of the Egyptian-Israeli Treaty of Peace and employ best efforts to prevent any violation of its terms.” According to US media, Esper has been pushing for a Sinai withdrawal due to both costs and an increased risk posed to American personnel from a local Islamic State affiliate. Israel and the State Department are reportedly against the potential move.