Israel’s ambassador to Egypt, Yaacov Amitai, presented his credentials on Tuesday to the leader of the country’s military council, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi.
“The presentation of credentials was held in a cordial atmosphere,” the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem announced in a statement. Amitai, who arrived in Cairo in December 2011, and Tantawi spoke to each other, reiterating “the importance of the Peace Agreement and cooperation to both countries,” according to the statement.
In the official ceremony, during which other ambassadors also presented their credentials, the Israeli anthem was played, along with other national anthems, the ministry added.
Amitai, who is fluent in Arabic, replaced Yitzhak Levanon, Jerusalem’s ambassador to Egypt during the riots that led to the ouster of long-time president Hosni Mubarak. Amitai is expected to work from his home in the outskirts of Cairo, as the Israeli Embassy has not returned to its original location after protesters tore down a protective wall, stormed the building and removed the Israeli flag from the building in September.
After two Islamist factions — the Muslim brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice party and the hard-line Al-Nour — received nearly 60 percent of the vote in the Egyptian parliamentary elections in January, many Israelis expressed concern over the future of bilateral relations. But the government in Jerusalem has made several efforts to show goodwill toward the new Egyptian regime.
On the occasion of the opening session of the Egyptian parliament on January 23, for example, Israel congratulated the people of Egypt “for its efforts to achieve freedom, democracy and economic development,” and wished the new parliament “constructive and fruitful work for the well-being of the Egyptian public.”
After handing his credentials to Tantawi, Amitai said: “I will do the best I can to enhance understanding and to foster cooperation between Israel and Egypt.”
Coincidentally, the diplomatic ceremony took place on the day the Israeli government marked the 20th anniversary of the death of former prime minister Menachem Begin. Begin, who signed the peace treaty with Egypt’s President Anwar Sadat in 1979, died on March 9, 1992, or Adar 4 on the Hebrew calendar.