Netanyahu meets with new Egyptian ambassador in Jerusalem

Former foreign minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit rumored to be nominated to be Arab League head; Israeli ambassador to Egypt says meets regularly with members of Egyptian government.

February 29, 2016 21:25
2 minute read.
Egyptian Ambassador Hazem Khairat

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with new Egyptian Ambassador Hazem Khairat in Jerusalem, February 29, 2016. (photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met new Egyptian Ambassador Hazem Khairat in Jerusalem on Monday, just days after Khairat officially presented his credentials to President Reuven Rivlin.

According to the Prime Minister’s Office, the two men discussed bilateral Israeli-Egyptian ties, regional issues and the diplomatic process with the Palestinians.

Meanwhile, Egyptian media reported on Monday that former foreign minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit is rumored to be nominated to be the next secretary-general of the Arab League. Current head Nabil Al-Araby’s term ends July 1.

Also Monday, in a speech to the Japanese parliament, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said Cairo was pushing for reviving Palestinian-Israel peace talks, arguing that regional stability would not be attained without a solution to the Palestinian issue.

Sisi also said terrorist groups are using the suffering of the Palestinians as a pretext for their criminal acts, according to Egypt’s state news agency MENA.

Separately, Egypt rejected an Israeli request to hold a friendly soccer match between the two countries.

“We will not accept to hold any game with any Israeli club or league,” Egyptian Football Association spokesman Azmy Megahed told Al Arabiya. “The idea of playing against any Israeli [sports clubs] is completely rejected no matter what.”

Megahed said Israel requested to hold a friendly match because Egypt, like Israel, is seeking to host the FIBA Under-19 World Championship and Israel is trying to convince Egypt to withdraw its request. However, this would not happen, he said.

The Israel Embassy posted on Facebook on Sunday asking if it could be imagined holding the match and asking, “How do you feel about that and what are your opinions on this subject? Will we one day break this barrier of fear and act as two people who compete in all fields?” The embassy’s request, according to the report, came one hour after Egyptian lawmaker and TV presenter Tawfik Okasha was attacked in parliament on Sunday, with one colleague hurling a shoe at him and others demanding he be suspended after he invited the Israeli ambassador for dinner.

Egyptian media reported on Monday that the parliament decided to suspend Okasha for 10 sessions.

Okasha, known for courting controversy, hosted Ambassador Haim Koren for dinner at his home in the northeastern Dakahlia province last week. He made the invitation live on his television show.

The move sparked outrage in the media and in Egypt’s parliament, sworn in last month, with several lawmakers demanding Okasha be dismissed from parliament.

“I met with Sisi and meet regularly with members of his government,” Koren told Israel’s Channel 10 on Sunday evening, insisting that the incident would not stop him from meeting Okasha again.

“Both countries have a shared interest in fighting terrorism,” he said adding, “I can say that relations with Egypt are very good.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

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