Egyptians military officials denied on Tuesday that Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu watched the Euro 2016 soccer final late Sunday in Jerusalem where the two had met earlier during a formal visit by the Egyptian official.
The Prime Minister’s Office had posted a photo of the two looking at a television screen broadcasting the Portugal-France final game on Sunday, which Portugal won 1-0.
“They did not watch the game together. They simply walked by a TV and Netanyahu wanted to see the score,” said Ahmed Aby Zayed, a spokesman for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry.
“Netanyahu brought a cameraman to record everything that was happening. The Egyptian foreign minister doesn’t watch soccer games during a formal and important visit such as this,” he added, according to Ynet.
The editor of the popular Egyptian daily al-Shorouq said that he felt “shame, sorrow and a sense of defeatism and everything that could be used to describe frustration and pain,” when he learned of the game-watching.
“I would understand if the our foreign minister would watch a game, a movie or a play with with an Arab official, who is a friend. But not an Israeli official. This dastardly country is the main reason for most disasters in Egypt,” said Imad ad-Din Hussein.
Shoukry became the first Egyptian foreign minister to visit Israel in nine years, and held lengthy talks with Netanyahu on Sunday, with reports indicating that preparations are in full swing for an unprecedented trip by Netanyahu to Egypt for talks with President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi later this year.
According to a report on Channel 2, one of the reasons Netanyahu is hoping to schedule a meeting with Sissi before the end of the year is to outflank a French diplomatic move to hold an international summit on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — something Netanyahu opposes. He has indicated that he prefers a regional approach to new efforts, with Egypt in a central role.
On Sunday, Netanyahu posted the picture of himself and Shoukry with the caption: “This evening my wife Sara and I hosted Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry in our home in Jerusalem. He arrived today for a visit to Israel. When our meeting ended, we had time to watch the Euro 2016 final.”
Netanyahu did not record whether he or his guest were happy with the result.