Israel asks to clear Cairo embassy contents: Egypt sources (REUTERS) Reporting by Tamim Elyan in Cairo and Allyn Fisher-Ilan in Jerusalem; Editing by Edmund Blair and Louise Ireland CAIRO, EGYPT 03/20/12 9:32pm EDT)
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(Reuters) - Israel has asked Egypt for permission to send planes to
remove the contents of its Cairo embassy, Egyptian foreign ministry
and airport sources said on Tuesday, highlighting deteriorating ties
between the two states since Hosni Mubarak was ousted last year.
It was not immediately clear what prompted the request but a
parliamentary committee issued a statement last week in the wake of
Israeli raids on Gaza demanding the Israeli envoy be expelled from
Cairo and for a review of ties with the Jewish state.
It was not clear whether or not the move would also involve
evacuating staff. Israeli diplomats in Cairo could not be reached and
Israel´s Foreign Ministry had no immediate comment.
The Israel´s ambassador was evacuated from Cairo in September last
year after demonstrators stormed the embassy in protest at a deadly
border shooting incident in August.
The ambassador, Yitzhak Levanon, briefly returned in November for
farewell assignments at the end of his tour. A new Israeli
ambassador, Yaacov Amitai, took office in February.
"The Israeli embassy contacted us (on Tuesday) requesting permission
for two planes to land in Cairo to transport the contents of the
embassy," a ministry official told Reuters.
The official said approval was needed from the military, which has
ruled Egypt since Mubarak was ousted in February last year. He said a
decision on the request was expected on Wednesday.
An airport source also said a request to send two planes had been
submitted, and that the airport had already received approval for the
planes to land.
Many in Israel have worried that ties with Egypt, which in 1979
became the first Arab state to sign a peace treaty with the Jewish
state, could be jeopardized after Mubarak´s overthrow in a popular
uprising last year and the rise of Islamists.
Anti-Israeli sentiment in Egypt was muted before Mubarak, a U.S.
ally, was toppled but have since become more vocal. The Muslim
Brotherhood´s political party and others have said they are committed
to Egypt´s international treaties and agreements.
The storming of the embassy in Cairo in September followed the
killing in August of five Egyptian security guards by Israeli
soldiers pursuing militants who had ambushed and killed eight
Israelis along the Israeli-Egyptian border.
Egypt brokered a truce between Israel and militant groups in Gaza
this month after four days of violence in which 25 Palestinians were
killed and 200 rockets were fired at Israel.
(Reporting by Tamim Elyan in Cairo and Allyn Fisher-Ilan in
Jerusalem; Editing by Edmund Blair and Louise Ireland) (© Thomson
Reuters 2012. 03/20/12)
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