Egypt's Mubarak tells Israel not to ruin ties
( Reuters ) - Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has told Israel not to spoil relations by criticizing Egypt's efforts to prevent weapons smuggling into the Gaza Strip.
Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said this week that Egypt was doing a "terrible" job of stopping the flow of arms.
"If the way we deal with the arms smuggling is not good enough for you, please, do the work yourselves," Mubarak was quoted as saying in excerpts of an interview with the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth published on Thursday.
He said Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni "who ran to the media to complain about us and to grade us, instead of picking up the phone or sending an envoy, has crossed my red lines."
Livni told an Israeli parliamentary committee on Tuesday that Egypt's failure to stop arms smuggling risked strengthening the Hamas Islamists over the Fatah movement of President Mahmoud Abbas, backed by Western nations and Israel.
A summary of her comments was released to the media.
"It's very easy to sit in an office in Jerusalem and grade us on our performance in the field, but it has soured the atmosphere. And relations with Israel are very important to me. Don't spoil them," Mubarak said.
Egypt said it rejected Israeli complaints about weapons smuggling into Gaza after talks between Mubarak and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Wednesday. Egypt said Israel was trying to distract attention from Jewish settlement building.
Egypt has asked Israel to let it deploy more guards on the Egypt-Gaza border but the Israelis have said the number is not the problem. The number was fixed in their 1979 peace treaty and adjusted when Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005.
Egypt accused Israel this week of encouraging pro-Israeli groups in the United States to lobby members of Congress to the detriment of Egyptian interests.
Two U.S. lawmakers on key congressional panels said in Jerusalem on Wednesday the United States could make future aid to Egypt conditional on Cairo doing more to halt the smuggling.