Foreign Ministry welcomes new Egyptian ambassador

Dore Gold says arrival of first Egyptian emissary since 2012 is an ‘important step’ in relations between two countries

Raphael Ahren is a former diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Hazem Khairat (YouTube screenshot)
Hazem Khairat (YouTube screenshot)

Israeli Foreign Ministry Director Dore Gold met with Egypt’s new ambassador to Israel on Monday.

He said the arrival of Hazem Khairat, the first Egyptian ambassador in the country for three years, marked “an important step” in Israeli-Egyptian relations.

The two discussed regional challenges and possibilities for cooperation, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Khairat’s arrival.

“I welcome the re-stationing of an Egyptian ambassador to Israel, which will enable us to further strengthen relations with this important and central Arab country,” he said during a weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.

Cairo’s last ambassador to Israel, Atef Salem, arrived in the Jewish state in October 2012. He was recalled soon after in the wake of an Israeli military campaign in the Gaza Strip, dubbed Operation Pillar of Defense.

Khairat’s last two postings were as Egypt’s former permanent representative to the Arab League, and then as ambassador to Chile. His appointment was announced in June and was warmly received in Jerusalem and elsewhere.

“It’s something that has been, that is deeply welcomed in Israel and I think it’s very good for cementing the peace that exists between Egypt and Israel,” he said at the time.

In September 2014, Israel’s new ambassador to Egypt Haim Koren presented his credentials to Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi at his palace in Cairo.

Israel's ambassador to Egypt, Haim Koren, presents his credentials to Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Ssisi in Cairo, September 14, 2014 (photo credit: courtesy)
Israel’s ambassador to Egypt, Haim Koren (left), presents his credentials to Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in Cairo, September 14, 2014. (Courtesy)

Official relations between Jerusalem and Cairo have been relatively warm since Sissi took power.

The Israeli Embassy in Cairo was ransacked by an angry mob in September 2011. It has not been reopened since, but some embassy staff returned to Cairo in 2012 and began working from an unofficial location.

In the unrest that followed the ouster of former Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi in July 2013, Israel reduced the number of its diplomatic staff posted to Cairo. However, it has begun building up its presence in the city more recently in light of the relative calm.

Sue Surkes contributed to this report.

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