"When you're talking about what a superpower can do, you expect big numbers," said Hisham Fahmy, chief executive of the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt. He said Egyptians compared the offer to the far larger sums that the U.S. spends in Afghanistan, "and they were surprised."
Israel's government fears that economic instability in the region could lead to security threats.
Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, last month called on Washington and its allies to create an economic Marshall Plan to help stabilize Egypt and Jordan. And Israeli President Shimon Peres made a direct plea to President Obama for such economic aid during a White House visit this month.