Cairo envoy: Swift re-opening of embassy important

Yitzhak Levanon praises US counterpart, says efforts were key to rescue of six Israeli security guards from Egypt.

By
September 13, 2011 23:06
2 minute read.
Yitzhak Levanon

yitzhak levanon 311. (photo credit: Channel 2)

A quick return of Israel’s embassy to Cairo, when proper security conditions are in order, is important both for Israel and for Egypt, Israel’s envoy to Cairo Yitzhak Levanon told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday, adding that the Egyptians needed to be aware of the “negative effects” of the kind of anti-Israel animosity that was on full display in Cairo over the weekend.

Levanon, a veteran diplomat set to retire at the end of November – who was whisked out of Egypt Saturday with 80 other diplomats, businessmen and their families after a mob ransacked the embassy – said that discussions in Cairo with the Egyptians at all levels are currently underway to enable the reopening of the embassy.

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But even as Levanon said it was important to return to Cairo, he added that a serious discussion needed to be held with Cairo about what happened last Friday night, “because what happened is dangerous, unusual and should not happen.”

“An attack against an embassy – an independent entity that has full immunity – is not something that happens everyday: It is very much the exception, and very dangerous. This is a serious matter,” he said.

Levanon, who acted feverishly early Saturday morning to get the Egyptians to rescue the six Israeli security guards locked behind a thick metal door in the embassy, gave special thanks to the US ambassador in Cairo, Anne Patterson, for her efforts.

Patterson, he said, escorted him to the plane carrying him and the 80 other Israelis back home, and played a huge role throughout the ordeal.

“I know that the ambassador spoke with people,” he said. “She intervened, did it well and effectively with everyone she was able to reach. She was extremely instrumental.”

Asked whether Israel would be moving its embassy to a more secure location, Levanon said that all possibilities were open.

“We have to check, see what happened, see the situation, evaluate things and determine how we can go back and continue and resume diplomatic life and activity in Cairo,” he said.

Levanon reiterated, however, that “this doesn’t mean we will forget what happened. We will continue to check what happened and investigate, because it is very serious.”

Levanon said that while it was clear that the anti- Israeli sentiment in the street in Egypt was not going to stop, “every country which has sovereignty has certain obligations, one of those being to protect embassies and their personnel.”

Asked about the depth of hatred for Israel in Cairo that this incident unmasked, Levanon said “the Egyptians have to be aware of the negative effects of this kind of animosity.

We have a peace treaty, an accord, between both countries.

We have to stick to it and work within its framework – this is for the benefit of both sides.”


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