Israeli premier-designate Benjamin Netanyahu is seeking to reassure Cairo over choosing a disputed politician who once told the Egyptian president to "go to hell" as his foreign minister, his office said on Sunday. In the past he also said Israel should destroy Aswan Dam.
The key post in Netanyahu's government is set to be filled by the outspoken Avigdor Lieberman, who last year said Mubarak could "go to hell" if he continued to decline to visit the Jewish state. "Close aides of Mr Netanyahu and Mr Lieberman have met with Egyptian officials to explain to them that the arrival of Mr Lieberman at the foreign ministry should not be a reason for tension between the two countries," a statement from Netanyahu's office said, according to the AP.
As part of these efforts, the head of the national security council in Netanyahu's government, Dr. Uzi Arad, met the Egyptian ambassador to Israel Yasser Reda last Wednesday, the statement added.
Israel and Egypt will this week mark 30 years since the signing of their landmark peace treaty, and the choice of Lieberman for the foreign ministry post has, according to the Israeli press, raised feathers in Cairo. The discontent rose to such a level that several Egyptian officials said Cairo would boycott the Israeli ceremony to mark the signing this week, the press said.
Officials from Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu have likewise "held direct contacts with the highest Egyptian officials in Israel and Cairo," Danny Ayalon, tapped to be Lieberman's deputy in the foreign ministry, told public radio.
"The discussions that have taken place make for an excellent base for the continuing of the excellent work relations between the two countries," Ayalon said.