Netanyahu with Barak - Emil Salman - 14082011
Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak Photo by Emil Salman
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The most senior echelons of Israel's government met Saturday morning to discuss ways to halt further deterioration in the country's ties with Egypt, following a series of deadly terror attacks in southern Israel on Thursday, in which eight people were killed.

Three Egyptian policemen were killed when Israeli troops fired across the border to interept the cell behind the attacks, which Israel believes entered the country via Sinai, having originally departed from the Gaza Strip. The deaths of the three Egyptians fueled a demand from Cairo for an apology and gave rise to a report that Egypt was to recall its ambassador to Israel, which was later denied by Cairo.

An official statement was issued following the Saturday morning discussions involving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. According to a senior Israeli source, the statement said that "the main aim is to halt deterioration [in bilateral ties] and prevent the departure of the Egyptian ambassador."

There was some confusion, however, as to whether the Egyptian ambassador had actually been recalled. Egyptian television originally reported that Cairo intended to remove the envoy, but the Egyptian leadership later said that the announcement had been issued in error.