Israeli Ambassador to Egypt Haim Koren gave a rare interview to Egyptian journalists in his residence in Cairo on Tuesday, and surprisingly, the transcript of the interview was published, and what's more, the journalists were not afraid to expose the fact that they had spoken to the representative from Israel.
On the Israeli Embassy in Egypt's Facebook page, the entire transcript was published next to a picture of Ambassador Koren with the flags of both Israel and Egypt.
"We respect the President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, because he is an open president who is interested in bringing stability to the region in general and Egypt in particular, and because he knows the face of the Middle East has changed, and knows the experiences of Egypt the best, and the experiences of Israel," Koren said to the journalists, one of them from important government newspaper "Al-Ahram."
In the past, journalists were afraid to mention the fact that they had "dared" to meet the Israeli ambassador. But according to officials in the Foreign Ministry, the barrier of fear has been broken. This stems first and foremost from the warming of relations and the strategic alliance between Israel and the Egypt of President al-Sisi.
When asked about his work in Egypt, Koren stated that "the neighborly relations and cooperation between us are very good. I love the Egyptian nation. As you all know, there is a mutual interest between Egypt and Israel, as there is a mutual interest between Israel and the Arab world in general - be it Saudi Arabia, Jordan, or the other countries in the Arabian Gulf."
Further in the transcript of the interviews, the ambassador noted that "we can't only cooperate on the security level. We need to establish economic relations, cultural relations, and also relations relating to investing in Egyptian businesses. This ideology has to be implemented from a young age through schools. It is important to learn about the Camp David Agreement. Times have changed, and it is the leaders' responsibility to change themselves in order to adjust to this new era."
When asked about what he will say to his family about his life in Egypt if he returns, the ambassador said: "My children have been here, and we always talk about Egypt and that Egypt is a warm nation that loves to joke around. We have great memories of Egypt, and we have had no problems. You all as a society – it is the responsibility of all of you to develop. We are friends and not enemies. The Egyptian people benefit from Israeli developments in all field,s technological and agricultural, and I hope that we will overcome the hardships, and we will together develop better relations."
Koren also spoke of how impressed Israelis are with Egyptian culture, and noted how amongst other things, that there is an Israeli tradition on Fridays to watch Egyptian movies.
"The Egyptian movie on Friday turned to be part of the Israeli cultural experience," he said. "Many people, and not just people of Egyptian origin, were driven to sit and watch these movies. This was a known and loved ritual in Israel."