Mohammed Bassiouni, former Egyptian ambassador to Israel, died of an illness at the age of 74, Egyptian media reported on Sunday. Bassiouni served as an ambassador in Tel Aviv between 1986 and 2000, and upon his return to Egypt he served as an expert on Israeli affairs.
Bassiouni enlisted in the Egyptian army in the fifties, where he climbed up the ranks and became brigadier general. He served as a military attaché in Damascus and Tehran, and was appointed deputy ambassador to Israel in 1980. In 1986 he was appointed to ambassador – a post he served in until being recalled by former President Hosni Mubarak in 2000, in protest of the Al Aqsa Intifiada.
In 2008 Bassiouni gave an interview to Haaretz journalist Zvi Bar'el, and denied Israeli reports about having been sent to Israel as an undercover intelligence officer. " Since 1980, when I was appointed to the Israel post, I have had no contact with Egyptian intelligence. I reported solely to the Foreign Ministry," he said.
Bassiouni, who was a regular guest in many social events, spoke in the interview about his many social connections in Israel. "To this day my friends call me on my birthday and I call them," he said. "One must understand the difference between work on the official and professional level and the personal and social level. On the professional level there are no friendships. Every ambassador works to promote his country's interests."
Although considered a popular ambassador, during his tenure in Israel Bassiouni became embroiled in a sexual scandal after a belly dancer accused him of sexual harassment. The complaint was canceled due to the fact that he had a diplomatic passport and following pressure by the foreign ministry.
In recent years Bassiouni served as a member of the Shura Council (the upper house of parliament) and as chairman of the foreign affairs and national security council, as well as other posts. His military funeral will be held on Monday.
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