Egyptian parliament urges Israel envoy expulsion

AFP and AP, Tuesday 13 Mar 2012

MPs call for expulsion of Israeli ambassador to Egypt, halting gas exports, label Zionist state Egypt's "first enemy"

A general view of the Egyptian parliament during a working session in Cairo, Egypt, (Photo: AP).

Egypt's parliament on Monday called for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador from Cairo and the recall of Egypt's envoy to Israel, the state MENA news agency reported.

The call came as Israeli warplanes pounded anew the Gaza Strip raising the death toll from four days of violence to 25.

Egyptian MPs unanimously approved a text prepared by the Arab affairs committee of the People's Assembly calling for "the expulsion from Egypt of the Israeli ambassador and the recall of Egypt's envoy from Tel Aviv," MENA said.

Egypt and Israel have been bound by a peace treaty since 1979 but ties have strained since former president Hosni Mubarak was forced to step down last year by a popular uprising.

The motion is largely symbolic, because only the ruling military council can make such decisions, and it is not likely to impact Egypt's relations with Israel. But it signals the seismic change in Egypt after Mubarak's ouster.Islamists dominate the People's Assembly, parliament's lower house, after winning elections earlier this year.

According to the text approved on Monday, MPs also called for a halt to gas exports to Israel.

"Egypt will never be the friend, partner or ally of the Zionist entity which we consider as the first enemy of Egypt and the Arab nation," read the text.

It also called on the Egyptian government "to revise all its relations and agreements with that enemy."

The parliament's vote could give the generals who succeeded Mubarak an added incentive to keep the office of the president as the nation's most powerful institution and ensure that Egypt's next leader is beholden to the military.

Late last month, Israel's new ambassador to Egypt, Yaakov Amitai, presented his credentials to military leader Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, who took over on Mubarak's ouster.

Israel has responded cautiously to the Arab Spring and the rise of Islamist parties in post-revolutionary Egypt and in January it congratulated Egypt on the inauguration of its first post-revolutionary parliament.

The self-proclaimed Jewish state has repeatedly stressed the importance of preserving the peace treaty between the two countries, and has called on Egypt's new leadership to publicly state their commitment to the landmark accord.

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