Israeli Official Heads to Cairo in Bid to Return Ambassador to Egypt

Egyptian diplomats say relations have warmed up considerably, which may allow the Israeli ambassador's reinstatement.

Foreign Ministry Director General Rafael Barak is to leave for Cairo on Wednesday in a bid to arrange the return of the Israeli ambassador to Egypt.

Barak is the most senior Foreign Ministry official to visit Cairo since the attack on the Israeli embassy in the city some two months ago, after which all the Israeli diplomats were swiftly evacuated from Egypt.

Cairo crowd attacks Israel Embassy  - AFP - 11092011

Barak is scheduled to meet senior Egyptian intelligence and foreign ministry officials. Foreign Ministry sources said attempts are being made to arrange a meeting between Barak and his Egyptian counterpart Mohamed Kamel Amr.

Egyptian diplomats said in recent weeks that relations between Israel and Egypt have warmed up considerably and they hoped the improved atmosphere will enable to reinstate the Israeli ambassador.

"The two states understand the importance of the relations between them and will do everything to preserve them," an Egyptian diplomat said.

After the Israeli diplomatic staff was flown out of Egypt, deputy ambassador Israel Tikochinsky remained. Since then he has been living and working in the American embassy in Cairo.

At a later stage the Foreign Ministry decided that two diplomats would fly to Cairo at the beginning of every week and return on Thursdays. Israel's ambassador to Cairo Yitzhak Levanon, who has not returned to Cairo since the embassy's evacuation, is due to retire at the end of the month. The diplomat Yaacov Amitai has been appointed to replace him and the Egyptian foreign office has approved the new appointment.

The main issue delaying the ambassador's return to Cairo is the lack of adequate security arrangements. After the attack on the embassy the Shin Bet security service decided that until the Egyptians come up with a new and adequate security plan, the ambassador and embassy staff would not resume regular work in Cairo.

The Foreign Ministry has also decided to move the embassy to another location, but has not yet found a suitable building.