Egypt’s parliament sacks MP who met Israeli envoy

Egypt's parliament on Wednesday dismissed one of its members who held talks with Israel's envoy to Cairo during a dinner at his home, the assembly said.

Tawfik Okasha hosted Israeli ambassador Haim Koren last week, sparking outrage in parliament where one lawmaker hit him with a shoe — an insult in the Arab world.

Okasha talked about the meeting in an interview in the Al-Masry Al-Youm daily, saying the two agreed Israel "has a key role in the issue of the dam" being built by Ethiopia on the Blue Nile.

The parliament's official website said 465 deputies — or more than two-thirds of its members — voted to deprive Okasha of his seat on Wednesday.

"The penalty is not over his meeting with the ambassador of a foreign country, but because of the issues discussed during this meeting, in relation to Egypt's national security," it said, according to a report in the AFP news agency.

The issue of the Ethiopian dam is seen in Cairo as a matter of national security.

"He has failed in his duties by inviting a foreign state to interfere to solve the issue of the dam," deputy Khaled Youssef told AFP.

Okasha's dismissal comes after earlier this week he was suspended for 10 parliamentary sessions for insulting the speaker of parliament.

Although Egypt became the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, their ties have been formally cold, and Egypt's political elite remains hostile to any normalization of ties with Israel.

In fact, a recent poll found that Egyptians see Israel as the "most hostile" of their neighbors, despite the peace treaty.

In 2013, the movement that led the opposition to former Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi said it would target the peace treaty with Israel, by collecting signatures to a petition calling for its cancellation.

Nevertheless, there has been a warming of relations between the two countries since the election of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi. Just last week, President Reuven Rivlin accepted the credentials of Egypt's new Ambassador to Israel, Hazem Ahdy Khairat, marking the end of a more than three-year period without any Egyptian Ambassador to Israel.

Morsi recalled the previous ambassador in 2012 in protest of Israel's Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza.

Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/208825

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