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Israeli Ambassador: Egypt will never again be our enemy

Israel's Ambassador to Egypt plays down tension in relations with Egypt following dismissal of MP who met him.

Elad Benari,

Israel-Egypt border
Israel-Egypt border
Flash 90

Israel's Ambassador to Egypt, Haim Koren, on Thursday addressed the recent goings on in Egypt, where a parliamentarian was sacked from the legislature after meeting Koren last week.

Speaking to BBC Arabic, Koren said the incident would not affect Israel-Egypt relations.

“The move is contrary to the relations between the two countries,but this is an internal Egyptian issue that has nothing to do with Israel,” Koren told the network in comments quoted by the Hebrew-language Walla! website.

Koren said that the Israeli embassy in Cairo is happy to meet with anyone who would be interested.

"My presence is accepted everywhere in Egypt. We have good relations with Egypt. I meet daily with Egyptian officials, including members of the government,” said the ambassador, adding, "I talk to many Egyptians who turn to me. We respect the desire of everyone, even if their desire is that the meeting remain secret and not made public."

Asked about the cooperation between the two countries, Koren replied, "We are working on a daily basis with the authorities in Egypt and share our knowledge with them. We have understandings about the situation in Sinai. Due to current situation in the region, it is natural that we will cooperate in various fields. The biggest enemy of Egypt today is terrorism - Hamas in Gaza and ISIS in the Sinai. There is no chance that we will act against Egypt. It is in the interest of Israel that Egypt will develop and succeed."

Koren also told BBC Arabic that he believes “that the leadership in Egypt believes that Egypt should cooperate with Israel against terrorism so that the situation does not deteriorate as it did in Yemen and Iraq. It is no secret that in the past the two countries were enemies, but from our perspective, Egypt will never again be our enemy. I think President Al-Sisi leads Egypt the right way.”

The peace treaty between Egypt and Israel has come under renewed scrutiny this past week following Koren's meeting with Tawfik Okasha.

Egypt's political elite remains hostile to any normalization of ties with Israel and so do many locals, as seen by a recent poll which found that Egyptians see Israel as the "most hostile" of their neighbors, despite the peace treaty.

Nevertheless, there has been a warming of relations between the two countries since the election of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi. Just last week, President Reuven Rivlin accepted the credentials of Egypt's new Ambassador to Israel, Hazem Ahdy Khairat, marking the end of a more than three-year period without any Egyptian Ambassador in Israel.