Egypt's Parliament Votes to Remove Lawmaker Who Met With Israel's Ambassador

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Tawfik Okasha (R) at the main headquarters of Parliament in Cairo, Egypt, January 10, 2016.
Tawfik Okasha (R) at the main headquarters of Parliament in Cairo, Egypt, January 10, 2016.Credit: Reuters

Egypt's Parliament voted on Wednesday to remove MP Tawfik Okasha who made headlines in the past few days over having a shoe thrown at him for having dinner with Israeli ambassador Haim Koren in Cairo.

More than two thirds of the parliament's 596 members voted in favor of Okasha's removal on grounds that his conduct breached the confidence the parliament gave him to carry out his job as a member of the state assembly.

Dozens of lawmakers had called for Okasha's removal, all of whom rejected proposed compromises such as suspending him. During a stormy debate a few days ago, another lawmaker even threw a shoe at him.

But it was unclear whether the decision would be carried out immediately or whether further steps were required for constitutional reasons and the fact that rules regarding dismissals in Egypt's new constitution have not yet been ratified. 

Okasha has a high public profile as the owner of a television station, and a presenter, won a lot of sympathy for criticizing the Muslim Brotherhood and criticizing former president Mohammed Morsi when he was in office. He sold himself as a supporter of the military and President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi's regime, despite his having been a loyalist of the previous government.

He is a known provocateur in Egyptian media and politics, an Egyptian source close to the military and political establishment told Haaretz. For this reason, said the source, the decision for "his removal should not be seen as a step that has any reflection upon the real relationship between Israel and Egypt."

Professor Yoram Meital, an expert on Egypt at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, says "Okasha tries to make himself look as though he's a member of the Egyptian elite, but that is not grounded in reality. He took advantage of his media influence and his resources to win a seat in regional elections as an independent candidate."

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