Egypt's action was the strongest protest to date against Israel's
handling of a Palestinian uprising
November 21, 2000, 11:27 AM
CAIRO (Agencies) - Egypt recalled its ambassador from Israel
Tuesday, citing what it called Israeli aggression against
Palestinians in nearly two months of deadly clashes.
Egypt's action was its strongest protest to date against Israel's
handling of a Palestinian revolt in which at least 214
Palestinians have been killed.
"President (Hosni) Mubarak issued instructions for the recall
Ambassador (Mohammed) Bassiouni to Cairo immediately because of
Israel's escalating aggression against Palestinians and excessive
use of force against the Palestinian people," the official Middle
East News Agency (MENA) said.
The move followed overnight Israeli
missile strikes on
Palestinian targets in the Gaza Strip that were launched in after
a bomb blast that killed two Israeli settlers.
A senior Palestinian official hailed Egypt's decision.
"We appreciate Egypt's move. This is a critical message
Arab nations, to the United States and to the international
community that Israel has to pay the price of its aggression,"
Palestinian cabinet minister Hassan Asfour told Reuters.
"We hope this will be followed by real steps against
aggressor government and we are waiting for more steps against
Israel and its ally the United States," said Asfour, who has been
a negotiator in now-frozen peace talks with Israel.
There was no immediate comment from the Israeli government.
Egypt, the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel
in 1979, last recalled its ambassador in protest at the Jewish
state's 1982 invasion of Lebanon. On that occasion, the envoy,
Saad Murtada, stayed in Cairo for eight months. MENA quoted
Foreign Minister Amr Moussa as saying he would consult Bassiouni
on the "deteriorating situation" in Palestinian-ruled areas. It
said Bassiouni would remain in Cairo for some time and gave no
date for his return to Tel Aviv.
Israel says recall envoy "serious"
Israel said on Tuesday Egypt's decision to recall its ambassador
was a "very serious" move that would limit Cairo's ability to
play a role in Middle East peacemaking.
It said it had no immediate plans to recall its ambassador
Egypt in response.
"It is a very serious issue," Foreign Minister Shlomo
told Israel Radio after Egypt decided to recall its ambassador
from Israel, citing what it called Israeli aggression against
Palestinians in nearly two months of clashes.
Ben-Ami said Egypt would still have a role to play in peacemaking
but added: "I think that recalling the ambassador will hurt
Egypt's ability to continue to fill the very important role it
has in the process here."
Asked about Israel's ambassador in Cairo, he said: "We are
thinking of calling the ambassador for consultations."
Palestinians jubilant over Egypt's decision
Thousands of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday
Egypt and its President Hosni Mubarak after he ordered his
ambassador to Israel back to Cairo.
Thousands of Palestinians had been attending
a funeral for
Ibrahim Ahmed Othman, 16, killed in clashes with Israeli soldiers
on Monday, when the news of the Egyptian diplomatic move reached
"Oh Mubarak, oh my love, go strike Tel Aviv!" jubilant supporters
shouted in Rafah along the Egyptian border.
"We and Egypt are on the path of fire!" chanted
firing guns in air.
Egyptian flags were quickly brought to the scene
Jordan, which signed a peace treaty
with Israel in 1994,
announced in early October that it was delaying sending its newly
appointed ambassador, Abdulilah Al-Kurdi, to Tel Aviv in protest
at Israeli actions against Palestinians.
Egypt and Jordan resisted pressure to cut their ties with Israel
as radicals demanded at an Arab summit in Cairo last month and at
this month's Islamic summit in Qatar.
Resolutions at those meetings left it to individual
decide whether to downgrade their relations with Israel.
Mohamed Al-Sayed Said, deputy director of Cairo's Al Ahram Centre
for Political and Strategic Studies, welcomed the recall of the
ambassador, which he said was the right response to Israeli Prime
Minister Ehud Barak`s handling of the crisis.
"The Israelis have gone mad," he told Reuters. "Obviously
are determined to destroy the Palestinian people...Public opinion
is really furious about the brutality of the Barak government's
policy towards the Palestinians."
arabia.com staff, AFP and Reuters contributed to this story
(c) 2000 Arabia Online Ltd