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Egypt: Recalling our envoy was never an option
FM Mohammed Amr says having Egyptian ambassador in Israel was in Cairo's interest, following reports suggesting Egypt was recalling envoy over killing of five Egyptian troops. Meanwhile, Egypt sets up special authority to improve security in Sinai

Egypt's Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr said Monday that having an Egyptian ambassador in Israel was in Egypt's interest and that a plan to recall the nation’s ambassador to Israel “was never on the table," the New York Times reported.

 

He was referring to reports by Egyptian state TV suggesting that Cairo had decided to recall its ambassador, Yasser Reda, from Israel in protest of the deaths of five Egyptian security forces in a border incident which took place Thursday.  

 

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"Having an Egyptian ambassador is a useful way to transfer messages to Israel," he said during an interview with an Egyptian morning show. "You can see the results by Israel's swift response to Egyptian demands for an apology over the deaths of Egyptian soldiers during the attack in south Israel."

 

Amr stressed that official statements made no mention of the recall threat.

 

Sinai. Safe for tourists? (Photo: Tzur Shezaf)
Sinai. Safe for tourists? (Photo: Tzur Shezaf)
 

Meanwhile, Arab League Secretary-General Nabil al-Arabi condemned the removal of the Israeli flag from the embassy in Cairo, saying "no one has the right to do that." He nevertheless noted that Egypt has the option of expelling the Israeli ambassador, shutting down the embassy or cutting off ties with Jerusalem.

 

It was also reported Tuesday that security forces guarding the house of the Israeli ambassador in Cairo's Maadi neighborhood granted the request of dozens of protesters, and removed the Israeli flag from the house, Egyptian newspaper Al-Youm Al-Sabaa reported.

 

The report claimed security forces blocked the roads leading to the house in an effort to secure the premises and prevent violent demonstrations.  

 

Watch protestor remove flag from ebmassy last week

 

Al-Arabi made the statements Monday as he left Cairo for Qatar to attend a meeting discussing steps before the Palestinians take their statehood bid to the UN.

 

On Monday, Egyptian press quoted a military source who said that Egypt's Higher Military Council is considering restoring the Israeli flag as International Law requires all countries to protect embassies in their territory.

 

Improving security in Sinai

Also Mondy, Egypt announced plans to develop a region bordering Israel after Israeli officials blamed its loosening grip on the area for the killing of eight Israelis by armed militants, inflaming tensions between the two neighbors.

 

Five Egyptian security personnel died when Israeli troops repelled the gunmen following the attack near Israel's Red Sea resort of Eilat on Thursday. Egypt said Israel's actions breached their 1979 peace treaty.

Israel said the gunmen had entered the country by crossing the Egyptian Sinai from Gaza.

 

Protest at Israeli embassy in Cairo (Photo: AFP)
Protest at Israeli embassy in Cairo (Photo: AFP)

 

The cabinet approved the creation of a Supreme Authority for the Development of Sinai to boost investment and improve security. The authority would have a separate budget and would operate as an independent entity. 

 

It will plan development projects and its head will report immediately to the prime minister.

 

The cabinet also called for steps to guarantee opportunities for the Bedouin, who have long complained of deliberate isolation by Cairo, including an employment quota.

 

The cabinet said it was working to ensure the Bedouin would also be able to own and build on land in the peninsula. The government also plans to open a university branch there.

 

The government repeated calls for a launch of the joint Israeli-Egyptian investigation into the border deaths and demanded a time-frame for its completion.

 

Egyptian embassy in Israel (Photo: Reuters)
Egyptian embassy in Israel (Photo: Reuters)

 

Mubarak's ouster leaves vacuum

Cairo has struggled to assert its grip on the isolated desert peninsula, especially after the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak in February left a power vacuum that was quickly exploited by a local population resentful of the government in Cairo.

 

Israel expressed its regret for the Egyptian deaths and said it was investigating the incident, but pressure was growing in Egypt for sterner sanctions.

 

A group of politicians including former Arab League head Amr Moussa and other candidates for Egypt's presidency called for the return of the Egyptian ambassador from Israel, more troops in Sinai and trials for Israelis responsible for the killings.

 

"Egypt after the January revolution is not like Egypt before. The corrupt, oppressive and compliant regime is gone for good," they said in a statement published in newspapers.

 

They described Mubarak's government as "a strategic asset to Israel."

 

Reuters and Roee Nahmias contributed to this report 

 

 


First published: 23.08.11, 08:52
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