Official: Israel to return envoy to Egypt after attack

Egyptian protestors ransacked unsecured parts of the Israeli embassy offices in Cairo on September 9.

Story highlights

  • Israel will speed up the construction of a border fence, Netanyahu says
  • Israel pulled its diplomatic staff out of Cairo after its embassy was stormed
  • Career diplomat Yaakov Amitai will take the post, an Israeli official says
  • The embassy will not reopen until a more secure location is found, the official says
Israel's new ambassador to Egypt is due to report to his post in Cairo on Monday, a government official said, three months after Israel pulled diplomatic staff out of the country in response to the storming of its embassy.
Career diplomat Yaakov Amitai will take the post, the Israeli government official said.
But the Israeli embassy offices in Cairo remain closed until a new and secure location can be found, said the official, who asked not to be identified because it is a sensitive diplomatic issue.
Amitai will initially work from the ambassador's residence along with a reduced embassy staff, the official said.
It is not clear who he will present his credentials to or when, said the official.
On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced plans to speed up the construction of a fence on Israel's western border with Egypt, but said it was aimed primarily at illegal immigrants.
"I intend to complete this part of the fence in under a year," Netanyahu told the cabinet, saying he plans to travel to Africa in order to promote arrangements to deport some of the immigrants back to their home countries.
The barrier will cost an estimated $170 million, and will be partly funded by a 2% budget cut across government departments.
The dispatching of Amitai to Israel's most important Middle East neighbor comes just three months after the dramatic storming of the Israeli Embassy in Cairo.
Egyptian protestors overcame protective barriers surrounding the building that housed the Israeli diplomatic headquarters and ransacked unsecured parts the embassy offices on September 9.
They tore down a wall surrounding the building that houses the Israeli Embassy and entered its offices. Once inside, the protesters threw papers bearing Hebrew from the windows and into the streets.
Initially, police and military forces took no action as demonstrators destroyed the wall that had protected the high-rise building. Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said about 3,000 protesters had torn apart the wall.
Egyptian special forces were ultimately sent in to rescue embassy staff.
The storming of the embassy, on the 12th floor of a building that also includes residences, took place amid wider demonstrations in Cairo that day.
Egyptians were angry about the killing of five Egyptian police officers by Israeli soldiers in August when Israel went after militants who had attacked civilians near the Israeli-Egyptian border.
Six Israeli citizens and two security personnel were killed on August 18 when militants crossed into Israel from Egyptian territory. Israel said the attacks were the work of a jihadist group based in Gaza. Israeli officials later apologized for the killing of the Egyptian border guards.
The embassy attack marked a low point in Israeli-Egyptian relations since the signing of the historic peace agreement between the two countries in 1978.