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THE AMBASSADOR FLEES September 10, 2011

Posted by wmmbb in Israel-Palestine, Middle East.

Israel is having problems with the neighbours, not just the oppressed Palestinians.

On Friday, the crowd not merely massed around the Israel Embassy in Cairo as they had done on previous occasions, but invaded it and appeared to trash it. The Ambassador fled. David Batty at The Guardian tells reports:

Israel has evacuated its Egyptian ambassador after crowds stormed the embassy in Cairo, plunging Egypt’s ruling army deeper into its worst diplomatic crisis since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak.

Egyptian prime minister Essam Sharaf is holding a crisis cabinet meeting and a state of alert has been declared as protesters remain on the streets following the violence on Friday, burning tyres and chanting slogans against the governing military council.

Police fired shots in the air and teargas to disperse the crowd. Early on Saturday morning around 500 demonstrators remained near the embassy, which overlooks the Nile, and a few threw stones at police and army vehicles. But police gradually pushed them back and secured the area.

An Israeli official said the rampage marked a further deterioration of diplomatic ties between Israel and Egypt since the fall of Mubarak.

The Israeli ambassador, Yitzhak Levanon, his family and most of the staff and their dependents some 80 people were evacuated out of the country by military aircraft overnight, the official added. Only the deputy ambassador remains in Egypt.

“That the government of Egypt ultimately acted to rescue our people is noteworthy and we are thankful,” the official said. “But what happened is a blow to the peaceful relations, and of course, a grave violation of accepted diplomatic behaviour between sovereign states.”

The incident was the second major eruption of violence at the embassy since five Egyptian border guards were killed last month during an Israeli operation against gunmen. That incident prompted Egypt briefly to threaten to withdraw its envoy.

The problems with Turkey are not going away. In both Egypt and Turkey, public opinion is now a factor that governments must respond to. The situation has changed fundamentally. The Israeli Government has to deal with its own internal protest movement and the Palestinian claim for statehood at the UN, which will presumably be won on the numbers. Israel’s fundamental problem is that peace without justice can only be enforced by violence, which inevitably escalates to become more costly.


Juan Cole suggests the attack on the Israeli Embassy has created a level of tension between the protesters and the transitional government in Egypt. Professor Cole writes that he has spent some time in Tahir Square over the past months and that, in his view, it is essential that the transition to democracy be supported by the US and its allies.



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