Netanyahu’s office denies report of Egypt trip
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Netanyahu’s office denies report of Egypt trip

Egyptian newspaper claims PM to visit Cairo in March for high-level talks

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak meet in Cairo, July 2010 (Moshe Milner/Government Press Office/Flash90)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak meet in Cairo, July 2010 (Moshe Milner/Government Press Office/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office on Monday denied reports the Israeli leader plans to visit Egypt next month.

An Egyptian paper reported that Netanyahu was scheduled to fly to Cairo in March for high-level talks, but his office rejected the report.

Official relations between Jerusalem and Cairo have been relatively warm since President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi rose to power.

But Cairo and Jerusalem have also been mired in a financial dispute over gas imports.

In December 2015, Egypt ordered a freeze on talks to import Israeli gas following a ruling by the International Chamber of Commerce that Egyptian gas companies must compensate the Israel Electric Corporation $1.76 billion over a cut to the supply in 2012.

Last month, Israeli Foreign Ministry Director Dore Gold met with Egypt’s new ambassador to Israel. He said the arrival of Hazem Khairat — the first Egyptian ambassador in the country for three years — marked “an important step” in Israel-Egypt relations.

Israel and Egypt have maintained official ties since 1979. Following the peace treaty, Egyptian president Anwar Sadat become the first Arab leader to visit Israel and prime minister Menachem Begin visited Egypt.

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.

In September 2014, Israel’s new ambassador to Egypt Haim Koren presented his credentials to 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)

The Israeli Embassy in Cairo was ransacked by an angry mob in September 2011. Some embassy staff returned to Cairo in 2012 and began working from an unofficial location in September 2015.

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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