International

Egypt Returns Ambassador to Israel after Three Years of Vacancy

Egypt Returns Ambassador to Israel after Three Years of Vacancy

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After three years without an envoy in Israel, Egypt has returned its Ambassador to Tel Aviv, announced Israel’s Foreign Ministry.

In a statement, Israel’s Foreign Ministry said that Hazem Khairat arrived in Tel Aviv on Friday.

Hazem Khairat, a former ambassador to Chile, had been appointed ambassador to Israel in June 2015. Reports indicate that the delay in assuming his post was the result of recent tensions between Palestinians and Israelis.

The appointment of a new ambassador to Israel was warmly welcomed by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday.

“I welcome the re-stationing of an Egyptian ambassador to Israel, which will enable us to further strengthen relations with this important and central Arab country,” said the Israeli Prime Minister during the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.

The position had been vacant since 2012 when former President Mohamed Morsi recalled Atef Salem, Egypt’s former ambassador in Israel.

During the rule of former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, who was elected into presidency in June 2012 following the ousting of his predecessor Hosni Mubarak, the relations between Egypt and Israel saw a noticeable decline.

Egypt had first recalled its Ambassador from Tel Aviv in 2011 following a cross-border attack by militants that left four Egyptian soldiers dead. Upon being elected President, Morsi assigned a new Ambassador to Tel Aviv as a gesture of Egypt’s commitment to peace with Israel.

However, the former President recalled Egypt’s envoy to Israel in November 2012 as protest against Operation Pillar of Defense, an eight-day Israel Defense Forces operation in Gaza Strip. The violence, which resulted in 177 Palestinian and six Israeli deaths, ended after Egypt negotiated a truce.

Israel reopened its Embassy in Cairo in September 2015 after being shut for four years. The embassy had been shut down after protesters stormed the building in September 2011. However, the Israeli Ambassador had been executing his duties from another location.

Reporting by Mohamed Khairat and Farrah El Essawi

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