New Egyptian envoy: We're committed to agreements

Atef Salem and Jordanian ambassador meet Peres, formally take up posts in Israel.

Peres and Egypt ambassador 370 (photo credit: Courtesy of President's Residence)
Peres and Egypt ambassador 370
(photo credit: Courtesy of President's Residence)
In a symbolic gesture of continuity amid sweeping change in the region, the new ambassadors of Jordan and Egypt presented their credentials to President Shimon Peres on Wednesday.
“I came with a message of peace, and I came to confirm that we are working for mutual trust and transparency, and we are committed to all the agreements we signed with Israel,” Egypt’s new envoy Atef Salem told Peres.
Salem, a former consul-general at the Egyptian consulate in Eilat, replaces Yasser Rada, Egypt’s previous ambassador whose tenure expired in July.
His words came a day after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told EU ambassadors stationed here that any changes in the Israel- Egypt peace treaty would endanger the entire peace agreement and hurt Israel’s ability to reach other peace accords, since its trust in the adherence to such treaties would be eroded.
“We have to go forward to a peaceful future,” Salem said. “Egypt is eager to preserve the idea of a civilian moderate state, and is upgrading its economic, cultural, educational and medical services.”
Jordan’s new envoy Walid Khalid Abdullah Obeidat – reportedly disowned by his tribe for taking up the post in Tel Aviv – was appointed earlier this month after a period of two years in which the Jordanian embassy was without an ambassador.
Obeidat told Peres that Amman’s foremost foreign policy priority “still remains the peace process, and achieving peace between all neighboring countries – including the establishment of an independent, sovereign Palestinian state living side by side with the State of Israel and forming a region that is economically viable.”
The Foreign Ministry issued a statement after the ceremony saying that beyond the symbolism, “the accreditation of the new ambassadors represents an important tier in Israel’s relationship with Egypt and Jordan.
Their inauguration will enhance bilateral relations and will help to develop cooperation for peace and economic prosperity, for the mutual benefit of all parties.
The regular relations between the countries will continue to make an essential contribution to regional stability and to the promotion of peace in the Middle East.”
In separate meetings with the two ambassadors, Peres expressed appreciation to each for the roles played by their countries in facilitating the peace process.
He said he was pleased with Salem’s appointment because his previous experience in Eilat had enabled him to take up his new position not only with the knowledge of Egyptian-Israeli relations, but also of the Israeli- Palestinian situation.
Peres said he believed negotiations with the Palestinians could be resumed “quite early.” In welcoming Obeidat, the president noted Jordan’s goodwill in accepting refugees first from Kuwait and now from Syria, and also in allowing half a million Egyptians to work in Jordan.
Looking back at Jordan’s relations with Israel prior to the signing of the 1994 peace accord, Peres said: “Even without peace, neither of us was belligerent or inconsiderate, and both of us had to face difficult situations.”
In addition to Salem and Obeidat, four other ambassadors presented their letters of credence to Peres: Jean Baptiste Gomis, the ambassador of Cote D’Ivoire; Francesco Maria Talo, the ambassador of Italy; Simon Pullicino, the ambassador of Malta; and Armen Melkonian, the non-resident ambassador of Armenia who is based in Cairo.
The Holocaust and the Armenian genocide were raised during Peres’s meeting with Melkonian, though no mention was made of Turkey.
The Armenian ambassador said that he hoped the day would come when his country would open an embassy in Israel, and that he could serve there instead of having to do so from a distance.