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The New Arab

Israeli embassy suggests 'friendly' sports game with Egypt, fails

The embassy suggested a "friendly" sports game between the Egyptian and Israeli teams [AFP]

Date of publication: 29 February, 2016

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The Israeli Embassy in Egypt has asked Egyptian Facebook users what they thought about the possibility of holding a "friendly" game between the Egyptian and Israeli teams, but most protested.

The Israeli Embassy in Egypt has asked Facebook users to share their opinions about the possibility of holding a "friendly" sports game between the Egyptian and Israeli teams.

"Let us imagine that a friendly game will be held between the Egyptian and Israeli teams next week," the embassy said in a Facebook post on Sunday.

"We would hope it turns out to be a fiery game, and we would wish both teams good luck," it continued.

The embassy asked users to share their opinions and feelings about the suggestion.

"Can we break the barrier of fear one day?"

Followers and commentators expressed opposition to the idea and replied to the post with insults aimed at both the embassy and Israel.

Egyptian journalist Adel Hamouda was among those who commented on the embassy's post, arguing that different generations inherited "hatred" towards Israel.

"Egypt may deal with the occupying Zionist entity based on the Camp David treaty, but this falls under diplomatic relations," he said, adding that normalisation attempts with the Arab world in sports would remain "unattainable".

Another user said that hostility between both countries was "eternal", vowing to meet with Israelis in a battlefield rather than a football game.

Although Egypt became the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, their ties have remained cold over Israel's policies towards the Palestinians.

Egypt's political elite remains hostile to any normalisation of ties with Israel, despite the full restoration of diplomatic ties in recent years.

Egypt's political elite remains hostile to any normalisation of ties with Israel, despite the full restoration of diplomatic ties in recent years.

On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister met with Egypt’s new ambassador to Israel, Cairo’s first envoy to Jerusalem since 2012.

"Today I hosted the new Egyptian ambassador to Israel, Hazem Khairat. Welcome to Israel, Mr. Ambassador!" Netanyhau posted to his official Facebook page with a photo of the two at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem.

The normalisation of relations between the two countries has been a hot topic recently after controversial Egyptian MP and TV host Tawfiq Okasha sparked outrage for hosting Israeli ambassador Haim Koren for dinner at his house.

The dinner meeting, considered by many to be an unacceptable insult to the Arab world, earned Okasha wide criticism and different reactions, including a shoe assault by a fellow MP.

Lawmaker Kamal Ahmed struck Okasha with his shoe as he entered the main hall of the parliament on Sunday.

During the meeting, Okasha reportedly discussed several local and regional issues with the Israeli diplomat, including the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the construction of the controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

"[Okasha] proposed the meeting, at which he raised ideas of us helping Egypt in the areas of water, agriculture and education - to try to set up a number of schools with Israeli training," Koren told Reuters by telephone.

"I offered to work on putting this together, and that we meet again. I will soon be inviting him over to our place. He showed great courage. He knew he would be attacked, and nonetheless he stood firm on his convictions."

The Israeli mission in Cairo, meanwhile, has described the Koren-Okasha meeting as "successful".

"The two parties agreed on staying in touch and pursuing cooperation," it said in a statement on Thursday.

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