Why has Israel closed its embassy in Egypt?

Confusion reigns in Egypt over Israel's decision to keep its embassy in Cairo empty.

Photo by: (AFP)
Photo by: (AFP)

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry had visited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in July 2016

Updated May 10, 2017

Israel's embassy in Egypt has been closed for over five months and its diplomatic staff have been recalled to Israel.

Egypt is one of two Arab nations, along with Jordan, that retain official diplomatic ties with Israel. Warm relations were established after the 1973 Yom Kippur War and the subsequent Camp David Accord in 1978.

The Israeli ambassador and his staff have not returned to their posts and have resumed their work in Jerusalem.

"Even following these talks, the ambassador has yet to return, and there is no date for the embassy to be reopened," the Egyptian Foreign Ministry told local news source, YNet News.

Why did the embassy close?

Israel is concerned about the security situation in Egypt that deteriorated rapidly after 2013. The nation witnessed a spike in militancy when then Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al Sissi ousted the country's first democratically-elected President, Mohammed Morsi. 

According to the official, Israel had set conditions to Egyptian security chiefs for the return of the ambassador. Despite this, the Israeli foreign ministry was not assuaged.

“Israel’s conduct regarding the closed embassy is strange and inexplicable to me,” an Egyptian foreign ministry official said in the report.

Is Egypt suffering from rising militancy?

Militant offshoots of the Muslim Brotherhood as well as Daesh-affiliated groups based in Sinai have conducted hundreds of attacks in recent years.

Some attacks have targeted military personnel, the police, judiciary as well as civilians as in the recent case of the two church bombings in the Nile Delta city of Tanta and coastal city of Alexandria. 

Egypt along with Jordan have been subject to criticism for normalising relations with Israel. Other Arab nations may soon follow suit to foster improved economic and geopolitical ties with Tel Aviv.

Tel Aviv has not set a return date for its diplomatic staff. Nevertheless, diplomatic channels with Cairo have not been disrupted.

Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE do not recognise Israel officially, maintaining public support of the Palestinian cause. Away from the public eye however, the Gulf states keep close relations with Tel-Aviv.

TRTWorld and agencies