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March 3, 2016 10:52 am

Egyptian Lawmaker Ousted After Hosting Israeli Ambassador

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Egyptian Member of Parliament (MP) Tawfik Okasha. The Egyptian lawmaker was removed from office on Wednesday. Photo: Screenshot.

Egyptian MP Tawfik Okasha, who was removed from office on Wednesday. Photo: Screenshot. – Egyptian Member of Parliament (MP) Tawfik Okasha was removed from office on Wednesday in the aftermath of his hosting of Israeli Ambassador to Egypt Haim Koren for dinner at his home.

Two-thirds of Egyptian MPs voted in favor of Okasha’s expulsion, claiming that he infringed on Egyptian policy — which opposes normalization with Israel — and that the meeting damaged relations with Egypt’s other neighbors.

Three days earlier, an Egyptian MP threw a shoe at Okasha during a parliament session, demanding that Okasha be dismissed from his position. Okasha had publicly announced the invitation of Koren on his TV show, saying that he and Koren planned to discuss Israeli mediation of Egypt’s Nile River dispute with Ethiopia as well as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Following the three-hour meeting, the two leaders agreed to continue meeting and collaborating in the future.

According to a recent survey by the Egyptian news website Barlamani, 90 percent of Egyptians opposed the meeting between Okasha and Koren. That sentiment comes despite the warming of Israel-Egypt relations on the government level in recent years, particularly the shared goal of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to combat Islamist terrorism. Israel and Egypt signed a peace treaty in 1979.

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