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Israel ambassador departs Egypt in run-up to Jan 25 anniversary

Yaakov Amitai abruptly leaves country only days before Egyptians celebrate first anniversary of revolution that led to Mubarak's ouster

Ahram Online , Thursday 19 Jan 2012
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Recently appointed Israeli ambassador to Egypt Yaakov Amitai left Egypt for Israel on Thursday only days before Egyptians mark the first anniversary of the January 25 Revolution that culminated in the February ouster of longstanding president Hosni Mubarak.

Officials at Cairo International Airport told Ahram Online that Amitai had flown out of Egypt on Air Sinai – the carrier that runs flights between the two countries – en route to Tel Aviv, along with several other Israeli embassy employees. Airport officials added that Amitai would spend at least one week outside Egypt.

Official sources that spoke to Ahram Online attributed the ambassador’s departure to fears among Israeli diplomats that Egyptian demonstrators might threaten the embassy during planned celebrations to mark the Egyptian revolution’s first anniversary.

Last September, Egyptian protestors stormed Israel’s embassy in Cairo after seven Egyptian soldiers were killed in an Israeli cross-border raid into the Sinai Peninsula. Immediately afterward, some 85 embassy employees and their families abruptly returned to Israel.

The same sources told Ahram Online that Amitai would likely return to Cairo in late January if planned 25 January celebrations passed without incident.

Amitai has left Egypt four times since his appointment to the ambassadorship in December, when he replaced predecessor Yitzhak Levanon.

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