Egypt reportedly recalls its ambassador to Tel Aviv
LAST UPDATED: 08/20/2011 11:20
Cairo reportedly mediating between J'lem, Hamas to stop Gaza escalation; official:PM consulting ministers on diplomatic response.
An Egyptian soldier on the Israeli border in Sinai Photo: Ronen Zvulun / Reuters
Egypt said on Saturday that it is withdrawing its ambassador from Israel pending an investigation by Jerusalem of the killings of Egyptian security personnel
at the border, Egyptian media reported. The announcement came as a sign of rising tension between the two countries.
Separately, Egypt was reportedly acting as a mediator between Israel and
Hamas in an effort to stop the escalation taking place in the Gaza Strip.
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cabinet also summoned the Israeli ambassador in Cairo in protest of the events in Sinai and their aftermath,
demanding an apology from Israeli leadership over statements made
accusing Egyptian military rulers of losing their grip on the Sinai
army officer and two Egyptian security men died when Israeli troops
pursued gunmen who killed eight Israelis on a road running close to the
Egyptian border on Thursday. Seven other Egyptian security men were
Responding to the reported Egyptian move, Defense
Ministry Diplomatic-Security Bureau head Amos Gilad said that relations
with Egypt are a strategic asset and need to be preserved, saying
that "nobody in the security establishment or the IDF had any intention
of harming Egyptian policemen or soldiers," in an interview with Israel
Radio Saturday morning.
Gilad added that Israel has not received
any request from Egypt to discuss changing the peace agreement between
Jerusalem and Cairo in place for over 30 years. He described the peace
between the two countries as a "strategic asset" and "fundamental."
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was consulting with cabinet ministers
about a potential response, an official said on condition of anonymity,
regarding what has become a diplomatic incident with the new Egyptian
military rulers installed after a revolt overthrew long-time ally Hosni
Mubarak in February.
London-based Arabic-language newspaper Al-Hayat
reported Saturday that Egypt has also been mediating between Israel and
Hamas in an effort to stop the escalation in the Gaza Strip.
to the report, Egypt delivered a message from Jerusalem to Hamas that
Israel was only targeting the elements responsible for the terror attack
in Eilat that left eight people dead on Thursday and would stop its
strikes on Gaza if rocket fire into Israel stopped.
The incident has posed a major test for ties between Israel
and Egypt following the uprising that ousted former president Hosni
Mubarak and strengthened forces hostile Israel.
expressed concern about security in the Sinai peninsula and said the
attackers infiltrated from the Gaza Strip via Egypt's Sinai desert,
despite stepped-up efforts by Egyptian security to root out Islamist
Cairo rejected the charge it has lost control of Sinai
and accused Israeli officials of making "irresponsible and hasty
statements" and attempting to blame Egypt for negligence on part of
Israeli security in protecting the Jewish side of the border.
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," Egyptian media quoted the Egyptian Cabinet as saying.
"The Cabinet assigns the Egyptian foreign
minister to summon the Israeli ambassador in Cairo ... in protest over
shootings on the Israeli side of the border that led to deaths on the
Egyptian side," state TV reported.
Both Cabinet decisions came
after a four-hour-long meeting held by the crisis management committee
and were announced on state TV and on the Cabinet's online page.
have been enraged by the killings, with hundreds of protesters staging
an emotionally charged demonstration at the Israeli embassy in Cairo
late on Friday, burning an Israeli flag and calling for the expulsion of
The Sinai forms a huge desert buffer zone
between Egypt and Israel, which sealed an historic peace treaty in 1979,
agreed by former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat and prime minister
Menachem Begin, after fighting two wars in less than a decade.