Congresswoman Elaine Luria Passes Amendment to FY21 NDAA on Multinational Force and Observers

July 1, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the House Armed Services Committee unanimously passed Congresswoman Elaine Luria’s amendment to the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act that expressed Congressional support for the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO). The amendment reiterates the importance of the MFO for regional security in the Sinai Peninsula and encourages continued United States Military support for the MFO.

“The Multinational Force and Observers has played a critical role in maintaining the 1979 Egyptian-Israel Peace Treaty, and I am glad the House Armed Services Committee has accepted my amendment to reiterate Congressional approval for continuing the US military’s role in the MFO,” said Congresswoman Luria. “The success of the MFO mission proves that American leadership is key to regional security in the Sinai, especially as aggression by the Islamic State continues to flare up.”

The Multinational Force and Observers was established in 1979 when Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin signed the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty as an independent international organization with peacekeeping responsibilities in the Sinai. The MFO is financed trilaterally by Egypt, Israel, and the United States but also receives contributions from Finland, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK. Thirteen states (Australia, Canada, Colombia, Czech Republic, Fiji, France, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, the UK, the US, and Uruguay) provide the MFO with military personnel. The total MFO operating budget in 2019 was $72.9 million, of which the United States contributed $31 million. Since 2016, there has consistently been around 450 U.S. servicemembers assigned to the MFO. 

In May, the Wall Street Journal reported that Pentagon officials confirmed that Secretary Esper is considering withdrawing from the MFO: “Defense officials said Mr. Esper feels the U.S. military efforts in northern Sinai isn’t the best use of department resources—or worth the risk of troops stationed there.” A statement provided by Pentagon spokesman Navy Cmdr. Sean Robertson additionally established, “The U.S. Mission to the MFO (Multinational Force & Observers) is one of many missions DoD is currently assessing.” Both State Department and the Israeli government oppose withdrawing from the MFO.

Click here for the amendment text.

Congresswoman Elaine Luria represents Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District. She serves on the House Armed Services Committee, where she is the Vice Chair of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, and the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, where she serves as Chair of the Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Subcommittee.