Israeli flag raised over new embassy in Cairo, four years after mob attack

Foreign Ministry director-general Dore Gold at dedication ceremony says Israel, Egypt “are working together for the sake of stability and prosperity in the Middle East.”

September 9, 2015 16:18
2 minute read.
Israeli embassy in Cairo

Foreign Ministry Director-Genral Dore Gold rededicates Israeli Embassy in Cairo‏. (photo credit: FOREIGN MINISTRY)

Israel reopened its embassy in Cairo on Wednesday, four years to the day after a mob invaded and trashed the legation, forcing Israel to airlift its diplomats out of Egypt and plunging the two countries into their worst diplomatic crisis in 30 years.

Foreign Ministry director- general Dore Gold, who flew to Cairo for the ceremony, said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi succeeded in “deflecting the threat, and we are working together for the sake of stability and prosperity in the Middle East.”

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Egypt, Gold said, “will always be the biggest and most important state in the region, and it is no wonder that the Arab world called Egypt Um al-Dunya, mother of the world.”

The ceremony was attended by the Israeli diplomatic team in Cairo, headed by Ambassador Haim Koren; the deputy chief of protocol of the Egyptian Foreign Ministry; and Stephen Beecroft, the US ambassador. During the ceremony the Israeli flag was raised, the name plaque outside the embassy was unveiled, and the Israeli and Egyptian national anthems were sung.

A statement put out by the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem said that, on the eve of Rosh Hashana, the beginning of a new year, “this event taking place in Cairo is also the beginning of something new.”

On September 9, 2011, during the height of the “Arab Spring” and half-a-year after Hosni Mubarak was overthrown, thousands of protesters stormed the embassy, using light poles as battering rams to demolish a protective wall around the compound.

Six security guards took refuge in a safe room in the embassy, and were finally evacuated hours later by Egyptian commandos, following direct intervention from US President Barack Obama.

After the incident, only a skeletal staff remained in Egypt, and although the staff has been augmented over the last four years, it has worked in crowded conditions out of the ambassador’s residence.

The families of Israeli diplomats in Cairo have, since the storming of the embassy, remained in Israel.

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely hailed the reopening of the embassy, saying that the move will likely “elevate the relations between our two countries.”

“Israel and Egypt share joint interest,” she said.

“Against the background of regional developments, many opportunities present themselves for cooperation and an enhancement of relations between Israel and states in the region, especially Egypt.”

Israel’s ties with Egypt, especially its security ties, have improved dramatically since president Mohamed Morsi, elected in 2012, was ousted by Sisi two years later.

Egypt appointed a new ambassador to Israel in June, Hazem Khairat, replacing the previous envoy recalled by Morsi in 2012.

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