The head of the Israeli General Security Service “Shin Bet”, Ronen Bar, seeks to contain the tension in relations between Israel and Egypt, which has erupted since the last military operation “Rising of the Dawn” in Gaza against the “Islamic Jihad Movement”.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz said that Barr went to Cairo on Sunday to hold talks with the head of Egyptian intelligence, Abbas Kamel, in an attempt to “reduce a rare diplomatic crisis” after the latest operation.
The newspaper reported that Kamel recently canceled a scheduled visit to Israel “in protest against the behavior of the Israeli government related to this operation.”
And the “Times of Israel” spoke of tension in relations due to “a misunderstanding regarding the steps that Israel will take to maintain calm” in Gaza.
Bar’s visit was not confirmed by official Israeli and Egyptian sources, but it was reported by media outlets in the two countries.
Haaretz said that Egypt, whose mediation led to a cease-fire following the three-day operation starting on August 5, “is angry at Israel’s handling of the operation, and believes that Israel did not present enough opportunities to reach a diplomatic solution.”
She noted that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who had a phone call with Prime Minister Yair Lapid, concluded from the call that Israel “will limit its security operations in the West Bank in the sensitive period in the wake of the escalation in Gaza.”
Haaretz reported that Lapid’s office did not adequately inform the Defense Ministry of the call, and less than 48 hours later, the army carried out an operation in Nablus that resulted in the killing of the leader of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, Ibrahim al-Nabulsi, and two other people, and wounding dozens.
Reports said the operation angered Cairo.
Haaretz had indicated in a previous report that Egypt had asked Israel to allow it to contain the crisis with the “Jihad” movement after arresting the movement’s leader, Bassam al-Saadi, and the subsequent threat of revenge by the movement, then carrying out the operation and assassinating the leader, Taysir al-Jabari.
The editor-in-chief of the state-run Al-Ahram newspaper, Ashraf Al-Ashry, told Al-Hurra that there was an agreement to send an Egyptian delegation to address the crisis, but the Lapid government rushed and killed Jabari, which angered Cairo.
The Israeli newspaper said that, on the evening of the next day, with Cairo confirming the imminence of reaching a ceasefire agreement, Israel killed the leader Khaled Mansour.
She pointed out that Egypt sought to include in the ceasefire declaration a statement indicating that Cairo would strive to release Bassam Al-Saadi, as well as Khalil Awawdeh, but Israel opposed the matter, which once again angered the Egyptians.
The “Times of Israel” notes that shortly after the operation, Egypt’s ambassador to the United Nations, Osama Abdel-Khalek, attacked Israel in a speech to the UN Security Council.
She said that while Egypt and other Arab countries have relations with Israel, these countries still traditionally maintain lines of criticism toward Israel at the United Nations, the tone of the rhetoric used by Abdel-Khaleq went much further than what Egyptians use in general, especially in recent years. Recently, Israeli-Egyptian relations have improved.
The “sharp” criticism came after Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, thanked Egypt and Sisi, “who were instrumental in restoring calm and stability in our region.”
Al-Ashry and Israeli political analyst Eli Nissan refuse to say that relations between the two countries are in a state of “diplomatic crisis.”
In an interview with Al-Hurra, Nissan refers to a “political crisis that lasted only a few days, and with the Shin Bet chief’s visit, things will return to normal in a few days.”
Al-Ashry refers to a state of “a chill in relations after the last operation” and explains that communication regarding security coordination was strong before it, and hot lines of communication were open, but Cairo froze them a little.
He says that the two countries are trying, through Bar’s visit, to “remediate the imbalance in relations, calm the atmosphere, and restore security and political coordination to the level it was before the operation.”
Al-Ashry talked about the two sides’ attempt to implement what was agreed upon after the events in Gaza, including the release of Palestinian detainees Al-Saadi and Awawda.
The “Jihad” movement announced that it had agreed to a truce agreement with Israel via Egypt, which includes Egypt’s commitment to work for their release.
The website of the Israel Broadcasting Corporation stated that the Israeli High Court of Justice “rejected the petition” submitted by Awawda, the hunger striker, to cancel the administrative detention. This was acknowledged by the decision of the military court at the Ofer base, which decided to freeze his administrative detention while remaining in the hospital without releasing him.
With regard to Bassam Al-Saadi, his detention was extended for another five days, for the third time in a row.
Al-Ashry notes that Israel promised Egypt to release Awawda in October, but there are still differences over Al-Saadi.
Nissan says that there was talk of working to release the detainees, but Egypt did not make a promise, and said that for Awadeh, “during a certain period when the period of his administrative detention is completed, understandings will be reached to release him.”
Nissan expected “an end to the differences in viewpoints between the two countries after Barr’s visit, because they have strategic relations in everything related to security in the region.”
Al-Ashry pointed to “some positivity” during the Shin Bet chief’s visit to Egypt and work to “restore relations as they were before the recent conflict in Gaza, in terms of importance and political coordination.”
Haaretz said that “similar political friction has occurred previously, but in the end it was not possible to ignore their common interests.”
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