Tawfiq Okasha with Israel's ambassador to Egypt Haim Koren
Smadar Perry
Shooting the messenger in Egypt's parliament
Analysis: Tawfik Okasha, voted out of the Egyptian parliament for promoting normalizing relations with Israel, is in indeed a bigmouth who seeks self-publicity at all costs; conspiracy theories abound about how he was being used to see if relations with Israel could be taken to a higher level.

Traces of Tawfik Okasha, "the normalization parliamentarian" - a nickname given to him during the vote that ousted him from the parliament in Cairo - disappeared over the weekend. After he was refused the chance to apologize directly to those who voted against him, he announced the sale of his privately-owned TV network, Al Fara'een the Pharaohs, pledged to cover all his debts, left his home in Cairo, and disconnected all his phone lines.



If you finally close your big mouth, he was told, there's a remote chance you will return to parliament. The truth is Okasha is not much of a catch. His ever-angry face on the small screen gave him the image of being the government's mouthpiece, a clown seeking self-publicity at all costs, even by threateningly waving a filthy sandal on live TV, his virulent rhetoric towards Arab leaders and his colleagues in parliament, and the big mouth of someone who was sure that everything was permissible for him until he was tossed out of parliament.


Tawfiq Okasha, right, with Israeli ambassador to Egypt, Haim Koren, middle
Tawfiq Okasha, right, with Israeli ambassador to Egypt, Haim Koren, middle


The votes against him numbered 496, while 17 abstained or opposed, arguing that the procedure was illegal. The numbers speak for themselves. Okasha's curious supporter was the fresh MP Mohammed Anwar Sadat, nephew of the late president. After all, the vote on his expulsion was also a vote on the peace agreement.


Even after his ouster, the affair refuses to go away. Newshounds found his ex-wife who complains about his stubborn refusal to pay alimony. Investigative reporters link the "Zionist agent" and the espionage affair which rocked Egypt 50 years ago, when Egyptian intelligence uncovered Okasha's uncle, a senior Air Force officer who was drawn by his girlfriend and joined the Mossad. That affair, which became the basis for the film "The Plunge into the Abyss", ended with the hanging of the general and his lover.


Tawfiq Okasha getting a shoe beating by Egyptian MP
Tawfiq Okasha getting a shoe beating by Egyptian MP


Okasha was sure that the juicy affair was forgotten. Just before the vote against him, he managed to boast of two secret visits to Israel and declared that he was planning another visit to Tel Aviv to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and interview him.


The good side to this story, if there are any, is that it opened the wound of the countries' relations and pointed the radar at it. 40 years after Sadat's historic visit to Jerusalem, when he pledged to "get into the hearts of Israelis and break Egypt's psychological barrier," we remain stuck. All Egypts professional unions reacted to the surprise which Sadat hit them with by an all-out strike and a strict interdiction to collaborate with the "Zionist enemy." The ones who were caught in the act of "normilazation" were forced to apologize and pledge not to repeat the "sin". The few who refused ran away in disgrace and lost their jobs and livelihoods.


Cairo's political salons are buzzing with conspiracy theories about the trial the government orchestrated using Okasha – in order to check if the time has come to take the relationship with Israel beyond security matters. What would the reactions be, for example, if President Reuven Rivlin or Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were invited to Cairo? Such an invitation is considered necessary, especially in Jerusalem, to signal that normalization is not something that results in punishment.


We received the answer: Peace will prevail only between the leaders. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who is currently visiting Japan and Korea, was quick to announce that Egypt is committed to the agreements with Israel, and didn't say a word for or against Okasha. Jerusalem understands that he cannot afford to quarrel with parliament which making comparisons between their expulsion and the Israeli discussion of distancing of Arab MKs.


Only al-Sisi can save Okasha. One can't be sure he is going to make any efforts given that latter, with his big mouth, rudely trampled the authority of the presidential palace and mocked the top of the pyramid.


פרסום ראשון: 03.06.16, 20:47
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