New Israeli ambassador to Egypt slated to arrive

Israel`s new ambassador to Egypt is scheduled to arrive in Cairo on Monday, three months after rioters ransacked the Israeli Embassy there.

Updated: Dec 12, 2011, 00:26 AM IST

Jerusalem: Israel`s new ambassador to Egypt
is scheduled to arrive in Cairo on Monday, an official said,
three months after rioters ransacked the Israeli Embassy
there.

Relations between the two countries have become strained
since a popular uprising toppled Egypt`s longtime leader Hosni
Mubarak in February. Still, both governments seem eager to
preserve an alliance that is a cornerstone of Mideast
stability.

Israeli Ambassador Yaakov Amitai will join a small number
of embassy staffers still in Cairo, the official said.

The previous ambassador, Yitzhak Levanon, most of the
staff and their families were evacuated in an Israeli military
plane in September after protesters tore down a security wall
around the building housing the Israeli Embassy, then stormed
embassy offices and trashed them.

The violent protest followed the killing of six Egyptian
soldiers by Israeli troops who were pursuing Palestinian
militants near the Egyptian border.

The embassy still has not been permanently relocated, the
Israeli official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity
because the timing of the ambassador`s arrival had not been
officially announced.

Israel and Egypt signed a US-brokered peace treaty in
1979, the first between Israel and an Arab state. Relations
have always been cool, but Mubarak carefully upheld the
accord.

The agreement is a key pillar of both countries`
security. For Israel, the treaty has allowed it to divert
resources to its volatile fronts with Lebanon, the Gaza Strip
and the West Bank. Egypt has benefited by receiving billions
of dollars in US military aid.

Egypt`s new military leaders have vowed to preserve the
peace agreement, but popular sentiment is hostile to Israel,
and the ruling generals have taken a tougher stance on Israel.

The strong showing by Islamist parties in Egypt`s recent
elections has fueled fears in Israel about future ties between
the countries.

PTI