Egyptian Ambassador Returns to Israel After Three Year Hiatus

Netanyahu welcomes Hazem Khairat, saying his arrival 'will allow us to improve even more our relationship with a state that is central and important in our region.'

People walk under a huge billboard urging people to cast their vote, on the final day of the second round of voting in Egypt's two-phase parliamentary elections in Cairo, November 23, 2015.
REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Egypt has sent Hazem Khairat as the new ambassador to Israel after a three-year hiatus, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said Sunday. Khairat, arrived on Friday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed his return to Israel saying it "will allow us to improve even more our relationship with a state that is central and important in our region."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Reuters

Israel and Egypt signed a historic peace accord in 1979, but relations have often been cool.

Egypt withdrew its ambassador in November 2012 to protest an Israeli offensive against Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip. At the time, Egypt was led by Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. Since Morsi was ousted by the military in 2013, relations have steadily improved.

In September, Israel reopened its embassy in Cairo, four years after it was ransacked by a crowd protesting the deaths of five Egyptian policemen killed unintentionally by Israeli forces chasing a group of Gaza militants.

Egypt's Foreign Ministry spokesman did not answer calls seeking comment.