Cairo: Two senior Egyptian editors, one a member of the country`s ruling party and the other an expert on Jewish affairs, have been punished by Egypt`s Journalists Union for violating its ban on contacts with Israel, in a case that underlines the country`s ambivalent policies toward its neighbour.
Egypt in 1979 became the first Arab nation to sign a peace treaty with Israel, but relations have remained cool since, with government-to-government contacts dominating links between the two nations.
Cultural exchanges and travel to Israel are officially discouraged by the government, while popular sentiments remain mostly hostile toward Israel because of its perceived oppression of the Palestinians.
Egypt`s Journalists Union issued the ban on contacts with Israel in 1985. Yet, many Egyptian journalists have travelled to Israel since and escaped punishment.
On Tuesday, however, the union reprimanded Hala Mustafa, editor in chief of the state-run weekly Democratiya, or Democracy, for meeting with Israel`s Ambassador in Egypt.
Hussein Serag, the expert on Jewish affairs and deputy editor of the weekly magazine October, was suspended from writing for three months.
It was not clear why the union decided to take action against Mustafa and Serag. However, a reprimand is symbolic and almost entirely inconsequential, while Serag`s suspension from writing for October for three months is a relatively light punishment.