Israel's ambassador to Egypt, Dr. David Govrin, and his diplomatic staff have been working from Jerusalem for the past five months, with the embassy in Cairo remaining empty due to the security situation in the country, Yedioth Ahronoth has learned.
Last week, the Israeli diplomats received an official notice from the Ministry of Foreign Affair's Finance Department, informing them that the additional pay they receive for working abroad has been retroactively cancelled for the months they've spent working in Israel.
The notice cites the reason for the cut: "This is an embassy that has been evacuated from the country in question."
In addition, work contracts for 30 local embassy employees—including secretaries, drivers and maintenance workers—have not been renewed, while the rental contract for the ambassador's home in Cairo's Maadi district hasn't been renewed in four months.
Furthermore, an Independence Day celebration planned at the embassy for the end of the month has also been cancelled.
"Israel's conduct regarding the closed embassy is strange and inexplicable to me," said a senior Egyptian Foreign Ministry official. "Israel set several conditions to returning the ambassador and diplomatic staff, and Cairo's security chiefs took these conditions very seriously and were committed to meeting them. But even following these talks, the ambassador has yet to return, and there is no date for the embassy to be reopened."
According to the Egyptian official, the ambassador and his diplomatic staff were supposed to return to Cairo several weeks ago, but "it appears that following the terror attacks in the Coptic churches, Israel went back on that decision, and we have no new information about the Israeli mission returning to Cairo."
Western diplomats stationed in Cairo have also questioned Israeli decisions on the matter, with one saying, "This is a very important diplomatic mission for Israel, which is located in the biggest Arab country. It is true that there are security alerts every now and again, and foreign diplomats follow security instructions from their countries. We're also aware of the problems the Israeli team encounters when trying to set meetings and making contact with the local population. But Israel must not give up its diplomatic presence in Egypt."
Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Emannuel Nachshon, said in response, "We do not comment in the media on issues that relate to the security of the embassy or of Israel's representatives."