Egyptian PM wants to quit over Israeli crisis - report

"Al Ahram": Prime Minister Essam Sharaf wanted a tougher line against Israel, but was overruled by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.

Egyptian daily "Al Ahram" reports that Prime Minister Essam Sharaf wants to resign, along with his cabinet, over the mounting crisis with Israel since a clash that left six Egyptian border guards dead, and a subsequent mob attack on the Israeli embassy, which prompted Israel to evacuate its ambassador and staff yesterday.

"Al Ahram" quotes a source as saying, "Sharaf wants to be relieved of his duties, and this has been the case for a while. Since he took office in the wake of the revolution he has demanded an end to his assignment at least twice, but the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has declined."

A source told the paper that Sharaf asked to be relieved of his duties during a meeting earlier today, but was turned down. However, the paper quotes another source denied that Sharaf presented his resignation.

"Al Ahram" quotes a source at the prime minister's office as saying that Sharaf was in favor of recalling the Egyptian ambassador in Tel Aviv, "even if very briefly", to meet popular demands of an angry Egyptian public in the wake of the border killings, but he was overruled by SCAF. The military council decided it was in the best interest of Egypt to settle for a mild expression of Israeli "regret" and a commitment to investigate the incident, along with securing Israeli consent for enhancing Egypt's troop presence in Sinai.

Following the assault on the Israeli embassy and the evacuation of the ambassador, a source told "Al Ahram" that Israel, while not trying to increase tensions in relations with Egypt, especially in the context of its current showdown with Turkey, has conveyed its strong dismay to Cairo at the incident and is demanding clear assurances on the protection of its embassy and staff.

Diplomatic sources said that the development could delay the visit to Egypt by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, scheduled for Monday.

In a statement yesterday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, "We maintained direct channels of communication throughout the night with the Egyptian government. It was clear to all that the defense of an Embassy, and particularly the Israeli Embassy, is the obligation of any sovereign state."

Netanyahu added, "I therefore also appreciate the words of the Egyptian Information Minister who condemned the attack on the Israeli Embassy in Cairo. Many world leaders and Arab leaders joined him in this sentiment. I attach great importance to this.

"Israel will continue to adhere to the peace treaty with Egypt. We are working together with the Egyptian government to quickly return our Ambassador to Cairo. I wish to make sure that the necessary security arrangements for him and for our entire staff will be effective and will assure their necessary safety. At the same time, our diplomatic delegate in Cairo will continue to represent Israel until the Ambassador’s return."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - - on September 11, 2011

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2011

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