Egypt recalls envoy in Israel

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

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Yasser Reda Ali Abdullah Said, the Egyptian ambassador in Israel, was recalled by the Egyptian government yesterday, who claim that the countries’ 1979 peace treaty had been breached by the killing of five Egyptian security personnel as Israeli forces pursued cross-border raiders.

Attacks inside Israel which killed eight Israelis led to what Reuters describes as the most acute crisis in ties between the countries since Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in February, with Egyptian troops being killed in a subsequent shootout between Israeli soldiers pursuing the militants along the Israeli-Egypt border.

The Egyptian cabinet, in an official statement, said that they laid “the political and legal responsibility for the incident, which constitutes a breach of the peace treaty” between the countries, on Israel. They also ordered foreign minister Mohamed Kamel Amr to summon the Israeli ambassador and demand an official condemnation from Israeli leaders for their statements accusing Egyptian military rulers of losing their grasp on the Sinai peninsula, a huge desert buffer zone between Egypt and Israel.

A few hundred Egyptians burned Israeli flags and tore down metal barriers, at the Israeli embassy in Cairo, demanding the expulsion of the Israeli envoy.

Cquote1.svg One thing is sure, there is not a single person in Israel who wants to harm an Egyptian policeman or soldier Cquote2.svg

—Amos Gilad on Kol Yisrael

“One thing is sure, there is not a single person in Israel who wants to harm an Egyptian policeman or soldier,” Amos Gilad, a liaison officer with the Palestinians and Egypt, said on Kol Yisrael.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu consulted cabinet ministers about a potential response.

The Egyptians had also recalled their ambassador in Tel Aviv on previous occasions, such as Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon and during the heavy Israeli shelling of the Gaza Strip in 2000.

“The cabinet committee has decided to withdraw the Egyptian ambassador in Israel until the result of investigations by the Israeli authorities is provided and an apology from the Israeli leadership over the hasty and regrettable statements about Egypt is given,” the cabinet statement said.

Citing concern about security in the Sinai Peninsula, the Israelis said the attackers infiltrated from the Gaza Strip, which is run by Hamas, through the Egypt-controlled Sinai Desert, despite Egyptian security’s attempts to find the Islamist radicals.

Cairo rejected the accusation which stated that it had lost control of Sinai. The cabinet’s decisions came after a meeting attended by generals in the army and Murad Muwafi, the Egyptian intelligence chief.

Cquote1.svg Egypt will take every precaution to secure its border with Israel to deter any infiltrators, and to respond to any Israeli military activity toward the Egyptian border. Cquote2.svg

—Egyptian cabinet statement

The cabinet statement also added that “Egypt will take every precaution to secure its border with Israel to deter any infiltrators, and to respond to any Israeli military activity toward the Egyptian border.”

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The peace treaty of 1979 limits the number of troops Egypt can deploy in the Sinai.

Emad Gad, senior researcher at Cairo’s Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, said that neither Egypt nor Israel was keen to escalate the issue further. “Withdrawing the Egyptian ambassador is a good step but Egypt still has to insist on a formal apology from Israel,” he added.

The Cairo-based Arab League will hold an urgent meeting on Sunday in order to discuss the Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip, following the attacks on Israel, that killed fifteen Palestinians.



Sources

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