Official Egyptian sources and foreign diplomats in Cairo on Sunday told Egyptian newspaper al-Ahram that prior to Friday's raid on the Israeli Embassy in Cairo, Egypt had advised Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to refrain from sending Ambassador Yitzhak Levanon back to Cairo after his annual vacation.According to the sources, Cairo approached Jerusalem several days before a mob stormed the building housing the embassy, urging them to instruct the diplomatic staff in Cairo to "keep a low profile."
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"We are not expelling the ambassador, but if he were to leave for a long vacation, it can be beneficial to all sides involved," an Egyptian official was quoted as saying.
"Unfortunately, Israel thought otherwise, and when all hell broke loose on Friday, they had to beg the United States to intervene, and send the Air Force to return the ambassador and the rest of the diplomatic staff from Egypt," the source noted.
Protests at embassy started after Mubarak's ouster (Photo: AP)
The raid on the Israeli Embassy came on the heels of a series of demonstrations, which began after President Hosni Mubarak's ouster in February. At first protesters demanded the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador, and most recently, the demonstrations came in response to the killing of six Egyptian soldiers on the border with Israel.
The report stated that despite Israel's initial refusal to pull the ambassador, "At the moment, Egypt and Israel have agreed that the ambassador will take a long leave of absence. Egypt has also provided guarantees – both to Washington and to Tel Aviv – that it will reinforce security measures to prevent another attack on the embassy."
Raid on Israeli Embassy in Cairo (Photo: EPA)
The Egyptian sources also claimed that Cairo was pressuring Jerusalem to expedite the probe into the killing of the Egyptian border patrol officers after the terror attack north of Eilat.
"We are telling the Israel that the authorities must show the public that it is not turning a blind eye to the deaths of the Egyptian soldiers," an official told the newspaper.
An Egyptian diplomat, who asked to remain anonymous, told al-Ahram that the United States "is very serious about preventing a long term rift between Cairo and Tel Aviv, especially now that so many anti-Israeli sentiments have been expressed throughout the region.
"Israel tells us they know that Egypt is committed to the peace treaty, but they are not sure how far the public's hostility will go, and how that might affect the government's policies towards Israel."
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