By BB Portnoy
An Egyptian military band played the Israeli national anthem “Hatikvah” as the Jewish state’s new ambassador presented his credentials during a ceremony at the presidential palace in Cairo, Ynet reported.
According to the report, Ambassador David Govrin, whose appointment was approved in April, arrived in Egypt earlier this summer. But he was officially welcomed on Wednesday by Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who also received the credentials of the new ambassadors to Egypt from Belgium, Greece, the Netherlands, Mexico, Myanmar, the United Arab Emirates and Somalia.
“I’m very proud to be appointed to this position in Egypt — the mother of the world, a land of ancient culture and history,” Govrin said, adding that a close Jerusalem-Cairo relationship was vital to achieving peace and stability in the region.
In 1979, Egypt became the first Arab country to sign a peace agreement with Israel, though the relationship was at times strained over the years. However, Israel-Egypt ties have improved since Sissi took power in 2013, after ousting his predecessor, Mohamed Morsi, an Islamist affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.
With shared regional interests — including the containment of Iran and combating ISIS in the Sinai and Hamas in Gaza — relations between Israel and Egypt have continued to blossom.
In July, as reported by The Algemeiner, Sameh Shoukry became the first Egyptian foreign minister to visit Israel since 2007. During his trip, Shoukry met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, where they reportedly watched a soccer game on television together.
However, as The Algemeiner reported earlier this month, normalization of the relationship with Israel remains a sensitive topic for much of the Egyptian public. This was evident during the Summer Olympics in Rio, when Egyptian judoka Islam El Shehaby was pressured by fans not to “shame Islam” by competing against Israeli rival Ori Sasson. Then, after he lost the match, El Shehaby refused to shake Sasson’s hand.
Govrin replaced Haim Koren, who served as Israel’s envoy in Cairo for two years.
As reported by The Algemeiner, an Egyptian Parliament member came under fire earlier this year from fellow lawmakers after he hosted Koren at his house for dinner.