Egypt has appointed a new ambassador to Israel, choosing an experienced career diplomat, officials from both countries said Sunday.
Atef Salem el-Ahl, who has been serving as Egypt’s consul in the Israeli resort town of Eilat, will replace Yasser Reda, whose four-year term ends this summer. The choice of a diplomat who is familiar with Israel ends concerns in Jerusalem that relations with Cairo could have been downgraded, following the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
Israel’s relations with Egypt have been tense and uncertain since the ousting last year of President Hosni Mubarak, who maintained the 1979 peace accord between the two nations and cooperated with Israel in a number of strategic areas.
Israel’s concerns deepened following the Muslim Brotherhood victories in elections for Egypt’s parliament and president – as the group had in the past openly espoused anti-Israel rhetoric.
Ties between Jerusalem and Cairo had been further strained by the deteriorating situation in Sinai, where militants have staged multiple attacks on a pipeline delivering gas from Egypt to Israel, fired rockets into Israel and carried out cross border attacks. Last month, Islamist gunmen killed 16 Egyptian soldiers before infiltrating across into Israel. Egypt responded by launching a sweeping operation, using tanks and troops against the militants.
Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said el-Ahl’s appointment was part of a reshuffle that included 34 other ambassadors. El-Ahl is scheduled to submit his credentials to Israel’s president in October.