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Questions on Whether Egypt Will Attend Peace Deal Ceremony

by Avraham Zuroff

(IsraelNN.com) Israel’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, has invited Egypt to attend the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Camp David accords with Israel, but is unsure whether Cairo officials will attend.

The question is whether Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel is Our Home) party chairman MK Avigdor Lieberman’s criticism of Egyptian President Mubarak had anything to do with Egypt’s decision to stay home.

An official from the Egyptian Embassy in Israel told Israel National News that its ambassador has not confirmed his participation in the ceremony, slated for Tuesday, but said he expects a final decision to be made “at any moment.” He furthermore denied that a final decision not to attend would be related to Lieberman’s remarks regarding President Mubarak. As of Sunday noon, Israel’s Foreign Affairs Ministry had still not received any confirmation of attendance from Egypt’s ambassador to Israel, but a ministry spokesman said neither had any official statement from Egypt been received indicating an intent to boycott the event.

Yasser Rada, Egypt's ambassador to Israel, on Saturday night denied reports that claimed Cairo was demanding an apology from Lieberman, Israel's prospective next Foreign Minister, over remarks he made in the past that Egypt said it considered "insulting." The earlier report said that Cairo would boycott Lieberman unless he apologized for saying he hoped Israel would bomb the Aswan Dam, and that President Hosni Mubarak could "go to hell" if he refused to visit Israel.

"I regret that the name of Egypt has been involved in this report," Rada told reporters. "This is strictly an internal Israeli affair. I cannot continually respond to reports of comments from here and there. Egypt's staunch policy is not to interfere in internal Israeli affairs," he said.

MK Danny Ayalon (Yisrael Beiteinu), formerly Israel’s ambassador to the United States, is slated to become Lieberman's deputy Foreign Minister. Ayalon stated that Lieberman and his colleagues have been conducting direct talks in the past several days with senior officials in the Egyptian government regarding the future of contacts between the two countries, and that no one asked for an apology.

Last year, Lieberman criticized Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak for refusing to visit Israel and said – “If he wants to talk to us, let him come here. If he doesn’t want to come, let him go to hell.”

The Egyptian–Israeli Peace Treaty was signed in Washington, DC on March 26, 1979, following the Camp David Accords (1978). The main features of the treaty were the mutual recognition of each country by the other, the cessation of the state of war that had existed since the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, and the complete withdrawal by Israel of its armed forces and civilians from the rest of the Sinai Peninsula, which Israel had captured during the 1967 Six-Day War. The agreement also provided for the free passage of Israeli ships through the Suez Canal and recognition of the Strait of Tiran and the Gulf of Aqaba as international waterways.

The peace treaty was signed between Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and then-Prime Minister Menachem Begin 16 months after Sadat's visit to Israel in 1977.