Home inContext Passover Highlights Strain in Israel-Egypt Ties

Passover Highlights Strain in Israel-Egypt Ties

Samara Greenberg

According to a report in Israel’s Ynet News, the Israeli ambassador to Egypt will not hold a seder in his Cairo residence this year for the first time since 1979. Every year since Israel and Egypt signed their peace treaty, the ambassador has prepared a seder for Israeli businessmen and Jewish diplomats in Cairo. Since Israel’s embassy in Egypt was ransacked seven months ago, however, the Israeli staff has reportedly been returning home on the weekends for security reasons, and will do the same this weekend to spend Passover with family.

The Israeli embassy in Cairo under attack. (Photo: The Guardian)

Since the attack on Israel’s Cairo embassy, ties between the neighbors have been strained. Three weeks ago, Egypt’s parliament voted unanimously in favor of deporting the Israeli ambassador to Egypt and withdrawing the Egyptian ambassador from Tel Aviv. The voted-on statement also called Israel an enemy: “Egypt after the revolution will never be a friend of the Zionist entity, the first enemy of Egypt and the Arab nation,” the statement read.

Following that statement, though not because of it, Israel cleared out the contents of its ravaged embassy, including all documents and equipment, and embassy staff now operate from a temporary building. A source quoted in the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper explained Israel’s inability to find a new home for its delegates: “the current crisis derives from the fact that every time the Israeli embassy finds a new embassy building, the owners’ then refuse to sell or rent the property after finding out who the buyer is.”

Though none of the above events — not even the vote in parliament — completely severed Israeli-Egyptian ties, all underscore the continuing tension between the neighbors and to a potential downgrading of relations in the future.