Egypt ousts lawmaker over meeting with Israeli ambassador

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — Egypt’s Parliament voted to remove a lawmaker who had dinner with Israel’s ambassador to Cairo.

Tawfik Okasha was removed Wednesday, with more than two-thirds of the 596-member Parliament voting for his ouster, according to Israeli and Egyptian reports. The reason given was that Okasha committed a security breach during dinner at his home last week with Haim Koren and damaged relations with other neighboring countries by meeting with the envoy.

Okasha was escorted from the Parliament building under armed guard.

During a parliamentary debate on the meeting earlier this week, one lawmaker threw his shoe at Okasha.

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Okasha also is a high-profile television personality in Egypt. He had publicly invited the ambassador to dinner during his show, “Egypt Today.”

Israel named Koren as its ambassador to Egypt in September 2014. The Israeli Embassy was closed in September 2011 after rioting anti-Israel protesters broke down the 8-foot-high security wall surrounding the embassy compound and entered the building. Embassy employees had to be evacuated for their safety.

Israel reopened the embassy in September 2015. In January, a new Egyptian ambassador took up his post in Israel after three years in which there was no diplomat leading the embassy.

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