Egyptian MP apologizes for hosting Israeli envoy

Tawfik Okasha, who was dismissed for hosting Israel's ambassador, says the move was "in good faith".

Ben Ariel, Canada ,

Egyptian parliament (archive)
Egyptian parliament (archive)

Tawfik Okasha, the Egyptian parliamentarian who was dismissed for hosting Israel's ambassador at his home, is apologizing for his actions, Walla! News reported on Friday.

He made the apology in a video which aired on the ONtv Egyptian TV channel, and in which he is seen trying to enter parliament while telling the viewers he apologizes for the gesture of friendship toward the Israeli ambassador and asking to be let in, but to no avail.

"I must apologize officially, it was done in good faith," he says, according to Walla!, adding that he expressed remorse over the incident, in which he hosted Ambassador Haim Koren for dinner at his home.

Okasha's hosting of Koren sparked outrage in parliament where one lawmaker hit him with a shoe -- an insult in the Arab world.

465 deputies -- or more than two-thirds of parliamentarians -- voted this week to deprive Okasha of his seat following the meeting with the Israeli envoy.

Although Egypt became the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, their ties have been formally cold, and Egypt's political elite remains hostile to any normalization of ties with Israel.

In fact, a recent poll found that Egyptians see Israel as the "most hostile" of their neighbors, despite the peace treaty.

Koren himself referred to the incident in an interview Thursday with the BBC's Arabic language service, saying he would be open to meeting anyone in Egypt who would be interested in meeting with him, while stressing that Okasha's suspension is “an internal Egyptian issue that has nothing to do with Israel.”

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)