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No Plans to Send Egyptian Ambassador Back to Israel, say Officials - 2003-07-28


Egyptian officials are denying that Egypt will soon send its ambassador back to Israel, or that Egypt is under any pressure from Washington to do so.

Senior Egyptian officials have told VOA that Egypt has made no decision to send its ambassador back to Tel Aviv next month. Instead, they say they are hoping for greater progress toward peace between Israel and the Palestinians that will lead to the return of Egypt's ambassador to Israel.

The comments follow recent reports that both Jordan and Egypt were preparing to send their ambassadors back to Israel.

Egypt recalled its ambassador from Israel in 2000, shortly after the Palestinian intifada began. The government said it acted to protest what it said was Israeli aggression against Palestinians. However, Egypt has kept its charge d'affaires in Tel Aviv. Also in 2000, Jordan said it would not replace its retired ambassador to Israel.

Senior Egyptian officials told VOA that not enough has been accomplished toward peace to warrant the return of the Egyptian ambassador. And, according to Mohammad Kamal, who teaches political science at Cairo University, many Egyptians feel the same way.

"People here, when they talk about peace with Israel, it's still a cold peace," explained Mr. Kamal. "And, many Egyptians believe that nothing happened recently that would turn this cold peace into a warm peace. And, sending the ambassador back to Tel Aviv means you are warming up with Israel and they will say nothing happened on the ground that necessitates that."

Speaking to VOA, senior Egyptian officials also denied a AFP news report Sunday that Washington was pressuring Egypt to send its ambassador back to Israel. One Egyptian official said that, while Egypt understands that Washington would like to see full relations between Egypt and Israel resumed, Egypt has been under no pressure to send its ambassador back to Tel Aviv.