Egypt names first Israel envoy in three years

Hazem Khairat, a former ambassador to Chile, was appointed by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi

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Egypt on Sunday appointed a new ambassador to Israel to fill a post that had been vacant since ousted Islamist president Mohammad Mursi recalled the previous envoy in 2012.

State news agency MENA said that Hazem Khairat, a former ambassador to Chile, was appointed by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. It did not say when he will take up his post.

Khairat's appointment was immediately "deeply" welcomed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"We've been informed by the government of Egypt that it is dispatching an ambassador to Israel. This is an important piece of news, we appreciate it," Netanyahu said in Jerusalem.

"It's something that is deeply welcome in Israel, and I think it's very good for cementing the peace that exists between Egypt and Israel," he said at a joint news conference with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.

Egypt was the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979. Jordan followed suit in 1994.

Ties between the two neighbors soured after Mursi's June 2012 election as president following the ouster of his predecessor Hosni Mubarak in the 2011 uprising.

Mursi recalled Egypt's envoy to Israel in November 2012 to protest against a series of Israeli air raids on the Gaza Strip that killed top Hamas militant Ahmed Jaabari.

He was killed at the start of an eight-day Israeli operation dubbed Pillar of Defense in which 177 Palestinians and six Israelis were killed. The violence stopped after Egypt brokered a truce.

Mursi was ousted by then army chief Sisi in July 2013.

Later that year, the Israeli foreign ministry named Middle East specialist Haim Koren as the Jewish state's next ambassador to Egypt.

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