Egyptian lawmaker has dinner with Israeli ambassador

Egyptian lawmaker has dinner with Israeli ambassador
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Published February 26th, 2016 - 10:21 GMT via

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The two discussed the Israel-Palestinian conflict and a controversial dam project in Ethiopia. (Facebook)
The two discussed the Israel-Palestinian conflict and a controversial dam project in Ethiopia. (Facebook)
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An Egyptian politician and Israel's ambassador to Egypt had dinner on Wednesday, where they discussed politics. A day earlier, the Israeli ambassador gave an interview to Egyptian journalists where he said Israel "respected" President Sisi for bringing stability to the Middle East.

Both events are rare in Egypt, where many are deeply suspicious of Israel and support a boycott of the Israeli state. 

The dinner between Egyptian member of parliament Tawfiq Okasha and Israel's ambassador in Cairo Haim Koren lasted three hours, reports said. Okasha reportedly asked to meet with Koren to discuss a controversial dam project in Ethiopia which threatens the flow of the Nile to Egypt. During the dinner, Okasha and Koren also discussed the Israel-Palestinian conflict, according to Youm7, an Egyptian news site. 

In an interview with Egyptian journalists on Tuesday, Ambassador Koren said Israel "respect[ed] Sisi" because "he is an open-minded president who wants stability in the region in general and in Egypt especially," according to the London based news service Al Araby Al-Jadeed. Koren also said Egyptians were a "humor loving people," and urged cultural and economic cooperation between the two countries. The full interview was posted on the Israeli Embassy in Egypt's Facebook page.

The news comes during a time of warming relations between Egypt and Israel, who have officially been at peace since 1979 but whose citizens have nevertheless largely remained at odds with one another. In February, an Israeli minister said that the Sisi regime had flooded tunnels in Gaza at Israel's request. One month earlier, Israel welcomed a new Egyptian ambassador to Tel Aviv after three years of there no Egyptian diplomatic presence in the country. Prime Minister Netanyahu said at the time that the presence of the Egyptian ambassador would "strengthen relations" between the neighboring nations. 

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