Israel's Ambassador to Cairo Yitzhak Levanon has protested on behalf of the Jewish state over statements made by Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, who described Israel as an "enemy state" during a visit to Lebanon.
In a press conference in Beirut on Tuesday, the Egyptian minister was asked whether the visit was intended as a warning message from Israel to Lebanon. Aboul Gheit denied and said the purpose of his trip was not to relay messages "from the enemy to a sister Arab state."
He stressed that Egypt would stand by Syria and Lebanon should they be attacked.
The statement was featured in headlines in a line of Arab newspapers, including the London-based al-Sharq al-Awsat and al-Hayat, the Saudi al-Madina, the Kuwaiti al-Rai and more. Egyptian media chose to downplay the remarks.
As Aboul Gheit and other Egyptian ministers were out of the country, Israel's ambassador met with head of the Israel department in the Egyptian Foreign Ministry and stressed that the Jewish state regards the affair with gravity.
Levanon expressed Jerusalem's official protest while seeking clarifications.
Israeli state officials said that the Egyptians claimed that Aboul Gheit was misunderstood and in fact meant to say he couldn't deliver a message from Israel to Lebanon, which Israel considers an enemy state.