The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Lieberman wants to send protégé to Cairo

The mad Cossack of Tel Aviv

The saga of Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's tense relations with Egypt continue. He's muttered darkly about nuking the Aswan Dam, said Hosni Mubarak could go to hell, and is persona non grata in Cairo. And now he wants to send one of his own as ambassador to Egypt, a man whose last claim to fame was being the military governor of South Lebanon under Israeli occupation:

The possible posting of Col. (res.) Shaul Kamisa as ambassador to Egypt could damage Israel-Egypt relations, according to an internal memo sent to Foreign Ministry director-general Yossi Gal on Sunday.

Sources in the Foreign Ministry say the Egyptians will refuse to accept Kamisa because he is a political appointee close to Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who has had frosty relations with Cairo.

The memo, which Haaretz has obtained, stated that Kamisa's military background and his active role in Yisrael Beiteinu will damage Israel, and that relations between Israel and Egypt are more important now than ever, hence the great importance of appointing a career diplomat as ambassador.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry in Cairo and the Egyptian Embassy in Tel Aviv declined to comment on the report of Kamisa's possible appointment, except to say that they had received no official word of it. "This might just be a trial balloon," an Egyptian diplomat told Haaretz.

Senior Foreign Ministry officials said they believed that because Lieberman had appointed a person who is closely associated politically with him, the Egyptian authorities would be in no hurry to approve his
credentials as ambassador.

The reaction in this morning's papers in Cairo is predictably irate. One wonders whether this is Lieberman's way of getting back at Bibi for shutting him out of the important relationship with Egypt.