An aide to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been dispatched to Cairo in an attempt to defuse the tensions between Israel and Egypt.
The diplomatic crisis erupted after five Egyptian soldiers were killed during clashes between the Israeli army and terrorists who perpetrated the attacks near the southern Israeli city of Eilat last Thursday in which seven Israelis were killed.
US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman will meet senior Egyptian officials.
According to Ynet news, Washington and Jerusalem are concerned about the rise of anti-Israel sentiment in post-revolution Egypt, which was demonstrated on Friday when a young Egyptian tore down the Israeli flag from the embassy building in Cairo to the cheers of thousands of Egyptians.
Egypt's Foreign Ministry called in the Israeli charge d'affaires, delivered a protest and demanded a joint investigation into the deaths of the Egyptian soldiers.
Last week, Cairo called on Israel to put a deadline on probe into the shooting.
The Egyptian cabinet on Saturday characterized as insufficient Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak's statement of regret for the deaths of the Egyptian security officers.
The Israeli decision to work with Egypt to investigate the killings is "positive in appearance but does not fit with the weight of the incident and the state of Egyptians' outrage from the Israeli actions," Egypt's state news agency MENA quoted a cabinet statement as saying.
Barak's statement of regret was aimed at reducing tension between Jerusalem and Cairo, which peaked on Saturday with reports that Egypt was recalling its ambassador from Tel Aviv due to the killing of the security officers.
“Israel regrets the deaths of the Egyptian officers that occurred during the attacks along the Israeli-Egyptian border,” Barak said .
“The peace treaty between Israel and Egypt is of great importance and strategic value for the continued stability of the Middle East,” he added.
Barak said he ordered the IDF to conduct a military probe of the incident, and defense officials said it would likely be a joint probe with the participation of the Egyptian military.
“We hope the ambassador will not be recalled,” said Israel’s foreign ministry spokesman, Yigal Palmor. “He’s still here, that’s a fact.”
A senior official at the Egyptian embassy in Tel Aviv told Israel Radio Saturday that, contrary to widespread reports, no decision has been taken to recall Egyptian Ambassador Yasser Ridah to Cairo.
Israel has has expressed concern about security in the Sinai peninsula and said the Palestinian terrorists who killed seven Israelis last Thursday infiltrated from the Gaza Strip via Egypt's Sinai desert.
Cairo rejected the charge it has lost control of Sinai and accused Israeli officials of making "irresponsible and hasty statements" and attempting to blame Egypt for negligence on part of Israeli security in protecting the Jewish side of the border.
The Sinai forms a huge desert buffer zone between Egypt and Israel, which sealed an historic peace treaty in 1979, agreed by former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, after fighting two wars in less than a decade.
Meanwhile, in an effort to usher in calmness after four days of escalating violence with Gaza, Israel reportedly signed a ceasefire with Gaza terror groups.
Egypt told the groups that Israel would halt its airstrikes on Gaza “only if the Palestinian groups stopped shooting first,” Ynet reported.
“Israel will not respond to the attacks from Gaza with a large-scale operation,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his cabinet ministers concluded at a meeting on the security situation on Monday morning, The Jerusalem Post reported.
Netanyahu’s spokesman Mark Regev said that Israel’s military actions in Gaza were twofold: “One, to prevent the launching of missiles and rockets on Israeli cities; and two, to target those responsible for attacks on Israelis,” the paper added.
The Prime Minister instructed the military to take a measured response in Gaza, including pinpoint surgical attacks, so as not harm Gaza’s civilians who are not enemies of Israel.
Netanyahu also noted that the Palestinian Authority’s silence regarding Thursday’s terror attacks raises questions about the Palestinian leadership’s commitment to fighting terrorism.