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Sisi's Egypt returns ambassador to Israel, cementing 'excellent relations' Open in fullscreen

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Sisi's Egypt returns ambassador to Israel, cementing 'excellent relations'

With Ambassador Khairat's arrival, the Egyptian embassy in Tel Aviv gets a new occupant [AFP]

Date of publication: 4 January, 2016

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Egypt's new ambassador to Israel arrived on Friday after his appointment in June, filling a post that had been vacant for three years, in sign of steadily improving relations.

Egypt has sent a new ambassador to Israel after a three-year hiatus, according to a statement made by the Israeli Foreign Ministry on Sunday.

Egypt withdrew its ambassador in November 2012 in protest at an Israeli offensive against the Gaza Strip, which began after Israel killed top Hamas commander Ahmed Jaabari, breaking a truce that had been in place.

Jaabari was killed at the start of an eight-day Israeli operation dubbed Pillar of Defence, in which hundreds of Palestinians, mostly civilians, and six Israelis were killed.

The violence ended only after Egypt brokered a truce.

At the time, Egypt was led by Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. Since Morsi was ousted in a military coup led by now-President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in 2013, relations have steadily improved.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry said Egypt's new ambassador, Hazem Khairat, arrived on Friday.

In September, Israel reopened its embassy in Cairo, four years after it was stormed by a crowd protesting against the deaths of five Egyptian police officers killed by Israeli forces.

I welcome his arrival and the re-stationing here of an Egyptian ambassador to Israel, something that will enable us to further strengthen relations with this important and key Arab country
- Binyamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu welcomed Egypt's new ambassador to Israel on Sunday, saying at his weekly cabinet meeting that Hazem Khairat's arrival would lead to a strengthening of ties between the two countries.

"Over the weekend Egypt's new ambassador to Israel Hazem Khairat arrived," Netanyahu said. "I welcome his arrival and the re-stationing here of an Egyptian ambassador to Israel, something that will enable us to further strengthen relations with this important and key Arab country."

Khairat, a former ambassador to Chile, was appointed by Sisi in June; an appointment which was immediately and "deeply" welcomed by Netanyahu.

"This is an important piece of news. We appreciate it," Netanayahu said at the time. "It's something that has been, and that is deeply welcomed in Israel and I think it's very good for cementing the peace that exists between Egypt and Israel."

Egypt was the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, but relations have often been cool.

Jordan followed suit in 1994.

With agencies

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