Israel, Egypt officials meet to discuss reopening Cairo Embassy

Israel, Egypt officials meet to discuss reopening Cairo Embassy

(AhlulBayt News Agency) - A delegation from the "Israeli" entity arrived in Cairo Sunday for discussions with Egyptian officials on security arrangements to bring about the reopening of the "Israeli" Embassy there, which had been closed for eight months.

"Israeli" officials said the talks were making good progress, which could mean that Ambassador David Govrin will return there shortly.

The officials said the "Israeli" delegation included representatives of the entity's Shin Bet security service and the Foreign Ministry. The "Israeli" representatives met with their counterparts in Egyptian Intelligence, that country's internal security apparatus and other Egyptian officials.

According to the "Israeli" officials, Sunday's talks were a continuation of several rounds that took place on the issue in recent months. Over the past few weeks, they added, understandings in principle had been reached on substantially boosting the security arrangements around the compound where the embassy and the ambassador's residence are located. Sunday's meeting was aimed at translating those understandings into practical security procedures.

"There is positive progress in the talks," said one official. "The Egyptians are moving toward approving the requests our security people have made. Now, among other things, we need a final decision by the Shin Bet head and the prime minister that the security arrangements are sufficient. If there's a decision to return the ambassador to Cairo it will make both sides happy, but only when we see Ambassador Govrin landing in Cairo can we know it's final."

The "Israeli" entity's so-called Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said he would not comment on issues relating to the security of "Israeli" representative offices or envoys abroad.

The ministerial liaison with the Knesset, Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, on Sunday sent MK Merav Michaeli a response to her query regarding the Cairo embassy. She had submitted the query on July 5, following a debate that she had initiated in the Knesset Foreign Affairs and War Committee's subcommittee on intelligence matters.

Levin, writing on behalf of "Israeli" Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, noted that the embassy had been evacuated solely for security reasons and the prime minister had instructed defense officials to get the embassy staff back to Cairo as soon as possible once the security issues at the compound were resolved.

"In the months that have passed since the embassy evacuation, Foreign Ministry officials and senior ‘defense' [war] officials have been working with Egyptian security officials to achieve this objective," Levin wrote. "It seems that these efforts are bearing fruit and that the issue is about to be resolved in a manner that will allow the return of the ambassador and his staff to Cairo soon."

In December, Govrin and the embassy staff were evacuated from Cairo for security reasons, apparently a warning of a possible attack, and the embassy has remained unmanned since. This is the longest period in which the Cairo embassy has been abandoned since the "Israeli"-Egyptian treaty was signed nearly 40 years ago.

Since the attack on the Cairo embassy in September 2011, when thousands of protesters stormed the building, there had been a gradual reduction of the "Israeli" presence in Cairo even before the embassy was evacuated eight months ago.

"Israeli" diplomats would stay in Cairo only three to four days a week and worked from the ambassador's residence. Over four years ago the entity tried to get Egypt to agree to move the embassy to another location, but with no results.

Egyptian reluctance led the entity to finally give in and reopen its embassy in a small building in the ambassador's residential compound in September 2015. Slightly more than a year later, even that limited "Israeli" presence in Cairo was removed.


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