The Egyptian lawmaker who was removed from parliament for warmly meeting the Israeli ambassador to Cairo has apologized for his actions.
An Egyptian television station aired footage of Tawfiq Okasha pleading with parliament officials to allow him to enter the plenum in Cairo just days after he was stripped of his status due to his publicized get-together with the Israeli envoy, Haim Koren.
Following his meeting with the Israeli ambassador, Okasha was ousted from his position on Wednesday, in a decision made by two thirds of Egyptian lawmakers.
Okasha was removed from office on the grounds that his meeting with Koren damaged relations with neighboring nations and that it infringed upon the established parliamentary policy which opposes normalization of relations with Israel.
(Shoe thrown at Egyptian MP)
The vote came three days after Okasha was accosted in parliament when another lawmaker hurled a shoe at him and demanded he be suspended from parliament for his misconduct.
Okasha sparked controversy in Egypt when he extended an invitation to the Israeli ambassador during his TV show "Egypt Today." He announced in the broadcast: "I have personally invited the Israeli ambassador to Cairo, Haim Koren, to a dinner at my house next week to discuss the Nile dispute and other important issues."
(Egyptian MP invites Israeli ambassador to dinner)
Among the reasons for removing Okasha from parliament were that he "had lost the trust of the Egyptians and especially the trust of his voters and that his act showed disrespect for the blood of Egyptian and Arab martyrs."
Okasha tried to get into the session to apologize to colleagues before it was too late but was barred by security on the orders of the speaker.
He sat outside, watching the vote on a screen, and left shortly before the session closed, declining to comment. In comments earlier this week, Okasha said he had done nothing wrong as Egypt has diplomatic ties with Israel.
A recent survey showed that 90% of Egyptians opposed the meeting the meeting between Okasha and Koren. The Israeli embassy in Cairo reported that the meeting between the MP and its ambassador was a positive one and said that the two agreed to continue collaborating in the future. Reuters contributed to this report.
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