The new ambassadors of Egypt, Atef Mohammed Salem Sayed El-ahl, and Jordan, Walid Khalid Abdullah Obeidat, presented their credentials to Israeli President Shimon Peres in a symbolic ceremony Wednesday, as they prepared to officially assume office as envoys to Israel.
According to statement by the Israeli Foreign Ministry, “the accreditation of the new ambassadors represents an important tier in Israel’s relationship with Egypt and Jordan”, as Israel hopes their respective appointments will “enhance bilateral relations and will help to develop cooperation for peace and economic prosperity, fir the mutual benefit of all parties”.
Egypt announced the appointment of former consul to Eilat el-Ahl last month, as the Jewish State officially “welcomed” the choice of a diplomat with some experience of working with Israel.
However, the Israeli Foreign Ministry seemed keen to downplay suggestions it signified an upgrade in relations between the two close neighbours, with spokesman Yigal Palmor describing it as “totally natural and normal”. The Egyptian Foreign Ministry similarly mirrored his tone insisting el-Ahl’s appointment, providing Israel with its first Egyptian envoy since last year’s popular uprisings, formed part of a wider government reshuffle which included 34 other ambassadors.
The new ambassador sought to reiterate Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s claims he would uphold Egypt’s 1979 peace accord with Israel telling Peres: “I came with the message of peace and I came to confirm that we are really working for mutual trust and transparency”.
“We are committed to all the agreements we signed with Israel and we’re also committed to the peace treaty with Israel,” he added at their meeting at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem.
Peres responded by confirming Israel’s regard for Egypt as the “leading country of the Arab world”. Similarly expressing his hopes for the uphold of the bilateral treaty, he added: “I believe that all of us will, for the sake of our young generation, keep the peace. The peace saves the lives of tens of thousands of young people, in Egypt, the Middle East and Israel.”
Expressing his hopes to “introduce a tone of friendship instead of a sense of suspicion” into their mutual relationship, he concluded;
“I know it’s not simple, I know there are people who try to frustrate peace. I really believe that both our governments will do whatever [they] can to keep it deep, sincere, strong and serious for the sake of your people, for the sake of our people.”
The Jordanian ambassador similarly stepped into a position kept vacant since 2010, when Amman withdrew its last envoy to Israel, and Jordanian officials have so far been keen to describe the appointment as a technical step, rather than a sign of an upgrade in relations between the two neighbours.