Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s personal envoy, Attorney Yitzhak Molcho, arrived in Cairo for a secret visit over the weekend, a report in Ma’ariv claims. According to the paper, Molcho met with the Director of Egypt’s General Intelligence Directorate Murad Muwafi and with Egypt’s new Defence Minister, General Hussein Tantawi. Ma’ariv did not indicate whether Molcho met with Egypt’s new President Mohammed Morsi or any of his close associates.
Israeli media reports this morning noted that in his meetings with senior officials in Cairo, Molcho emphasised the need for both countries to continue cooperating on security issues. He repeated Israel’s expectation that Egypt exercise its sovereignty in the Sinai, which since the overthrow of Egypt’s former President Hosni Mubarak has become a hotbed for Jihadi terrorism. Molcho also asked the Egyptians to clarify to Hamas its responsibility for rocket fire emanating from Gaza.
Molcho also suggested expanding financial cooperation – with a focus on the Qualifying Industrial Zone (QIZ) agreement. This treaty provides incentives for cooperation between Israeli and Egyptian businesses in the form of free trade and tax exemptions in exports to the US.
Last week Netanyahu sent a personal message to Morsi, in which he expressed his hopes that the new Egyptian administration would continue cooperating with Israel as in the past. To date, Netanyahu and Morsi have not spoken on the phone. The Prime Minister’s Bureau has decided to wait until after Morsi has spoken with European leaders and with US President Barack Obama. Netanyahu hopes that Western leaders will convey the Israeli message about the importance of maintaining the peace agreement and the goal of maintain the existing cooperation between the two countries.