Egypt’s ambassador to Israel will remain in Cairo until it is clear that Israel is abiding by the terms of last week’s ceasefire with Hamas, Al Ahram newspaper reported on Sunday, citing diplomatic sources.
Once Israel has ceased “all of its actions” in the Hamas-controlled Gaza strip, Atef Salem will return to Tel Aviv, the sources said, though it was not clear what that entails.
Egypt recalled Salem on the evening of November 14, hours after Israel launched Operation Pillar of Defense in response to rocket attacks from Gaza into southern Israel. The move came less than one month after the ambassador presented his credentials to Israeli President Shimon Peres.
At the time, Salem said that he brought with him a “message of peace” and said that Egypt was “committed to all the agreements we signed with Israel and we’re also committed to the peace treaty with Israel.”
There had been no Egyptian envoy since August 2011, when Egypt recalled then-ambassador Yasser Reda to protest the deaths of five Egyptian servicemen who were killed as Israel pursued terrorists during an infiltration from the Sinai Peninsula in which eight Israelis died.
Egypt was hailed by Israeli leaders for brokering the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas after eight days of fighting during Operation Pillar of Defense, but relations between Jerusalem and Cairo have remained mostly chilly since the election of Egypt’s Islamist president Mohammed Morsi earlier this year.
During last week’s violent escalation with Hamas, Yaakov Amitai, Israel’s envoy to Egypt, was also recalled to Tel Aviv amid threats of violent protests in Cairo. The Foreign Ministry was not immediately available for comment regarding his return.