Egypt Committed to Israel Peace Deal Despite Revived Unrest, Officials Say

Messages relayed to outgoing Ambassador Levanon during meetings with Egypt's intelligence chief, General Murad Muwafi, Foreign Minister Kamal Amr and other top officials in Cairo.

Top Egyptian figures have delivered conciliatory messages to Jerusalem in the past two days, insisting that Egypt is committed to its peace accord with Israel, and will act to uphold it. Senior Foreign Ministry figures say these messages were relayed to outgoing Ambassador Yitzhak Levanon during a farewell visit he paid to Cairo on Sunday and Monday.

Levanon met with Egypt's intelligence chief, General Murad Muwafi, Foreign Minister Kamal Amr and other top officials in Cairo. These figures insisted that the peace accord with Israel retains strategic importance for Egypt, and so the Egyptians will uphold the agreement, despite the convulsions in the state. Similar messages were relayed also to top Israel Defense Forces officers and to senior Defense Ministry officials.

levanon - Archive: Tomer Appelbaum / BauBau - January 31 2011
Archive: Tomer Appelbaum / BauBau

Yesterday, Israel's political-security cabinet convened for more than eight hours of discussion of annual intelligence assessments compiled by the Shin Bet, the Mossad, Military Intelligence and the Foreign Ministry. Circumstances in Egypt and Syria, along with uprisings elsewhere in the Arab world, were key topics discussed in this meeting.

The Foreign Ministry holds that at this stage a scenario in which a new government is formed in Egypt after parliamentary and presidential elections and it would annul the peace agreement with Israel, and also possibly become embroiled in a military conflict with Israel, has very little probability.

"At this stage, the peace agreement is not in danger," top Foreign Ministry officials contended. "Egypt's interest and Israel's are in favor of upholding the agreement."

The Foreign Ministry plans to send Israel's new ambassador to Egypt, Yaakov Amitai, to Cairo during the first week of December. During discussions with Levanon in Cairo this week, senior Egyptian officials made clear they want the work of Israel's embassy in Cairo to return to its normal routines as soon as possible.

Two weeks ago, the director general of the Foreign Ministry, Rafi Barak, along with top security establishment officials, visited Cairo, and spoke with officials from Egypt's general intelligence service, the Supreme military Council and its foreign ministry. These talks dealt with security arrangements to ensure the reopening of Israel's embassy.

No new embassy facility has yet been selected to replace the old building, which was besieged by rioting Egyptians two months ago. Thus, during the first part of his term, the new Israeli ambassador will work from his residence, which has adequate security protection. During the next two weeks, Israeli officials will assess security circumstances in Cairo in order to decide about arrangements for the work of Israel's ambassador in the city.