A member of the Egyptian parliament, Tawfik Okasha, has invited the Israeli ambassador in Cairo to a dinner at his house to discuss the option of Israeli mediation in Egypt's Nile dispute with Ethiopia, Egyptian media has reported.
Okasha, the owner of the Egyptian al-Faraeen television channel, delivered the invitation to the Israeli ambassador during his TV show "Egypt Today," in which he claimed that Israeli mediation is the key to solving the Nile dispute.
Okasha surprisingly announced: "I have personally invited the Israeli ambassador to Cairo, Chaim Koren, to a dinner at my house next week to discuss the Nile dispute and other important issues," and directed a message to Egyptian journalists: "I will take a photo with him and give it to you so you can publish it."
While Israel and Egypt established formal relations in the 1979 Camp David peace treaty, Egyptian politicians and cultural figures have refused to normalize relations with Israeli figures, resulting in a de facto boycott.
Regarding normalization with Israel, Okasha said: "We, the Egyptians have a schizophrenic personality. Don't our police secure the Israeli ambassador? Doesn’t our intelligence participate in safeguarding him? The safeguarding of the Israeli ambassador is 15 times better than the safeguarding of any other ambassador in Egypt. Isn't the presence of an Israeli ambassador in Egypt a result of Israel and Egypt's mutual recognition of each other?"
The Nile dispute refers to Egypt's disagreement with Ethiopia over the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Resistance Dam. While Ethiopia is interested in the project as a source of renewable energy, Egypt is concerned about the storage capacity of the dam, which could lead to a decrease in its share of the river’s water. The project could also lead to periods of drought and a possible dam collapse as a result of its construction in an area with a strong flow of Blue Nile waters, Egypt argues.
In previous remarks, Okasha suggested giving Israel two billion cubic meters of the Nile waters in exchange for its mediation in the Nile dispute. On his TV show, he claimed that Koren's involvement is necessary to prevent the dispute from inflicting damage on farmers in the Nile's Delta.
In an interview with Army Radio on Wednesday, Israel’s ambassador to Cairo, Haim Koren, claimed that he was surprised to hear about Okasha's public invitation, which stands in contrast to the anti-normalization policy of the Egyptian parliament. He added: "When an Egyptian MP is interested in promoting the shared interest of Israel and Egypt, of course we welcome the initiative and try to figure out what it is about."