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June 07, 2003

Maher denies Israeli news on return of Egyptian

The Egyptian foreign minister Ahmad Maher has deliberately denied that Sharm Esh Sheikh meetings which were held two days ago tackled the issue of the return of the Egyptian ambassador to Israel.

He stressed that what was issued to that effect "was baseless." Maher's statements came in comments of news stated by the Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot in a report published in its yesterday ( Thursday) issue that "Egypt and Jordan are discussing in secret for two ambassadors to be sent to Israel," according to what was stated in the paper's report.

Maher described Sharm Esh Sheikh and al-Aqaba summits as reflecting American, Arab and Palestinian seriousness in dealing with the peace issue, stressing Egypt's support for the Palestinian people in order to build their state, supporting them to implement their obligations. Maher denied margining Yasser Arafat's role, noting that the Palestinian prime minister Mahmoud Abbas is always careful to assure Arafat's position and role in his capacity as a chairman for the Palestinian authority.

Egypt had withdrawn Muhammad Basyouni, its last ambassador accredited to Israel, almost 30 months ago, following the Israeli bombardment of the offices of the chairman of the Palestinian authority Yasser Arafat. Amman took a similar decision of withdrawing its ambassador for the same reasons on which Cairo had based then.

The former Egyptian ambassador occupies currently the post of the deputy chairman of the foreign relations committee at the Egyptian parliament, while the former Jordanian ambassador Omar al-Refai, occupies the post of Jordan's ambassador to Italy.

However, relations between Egypt and Israel are classified according to observers as having a "cold peace," despite signing a peace treaty between the two countries and this is because of the absence of a great progress in the negotiations between Israel and its neighbors. Nevertheless relations between the two sides have become intensified since the eruption of the Palestinian Intifada