President Reuven Rivlin (R) with Egyptian ambassador Hazem Khairat. (Mark Neyman/GPO) (Mark Neyman/GPO)
Rivlin Egyptian ambassador Hazem Khairat

Marking the end of a troubling period and the beginning of a more peaceful one in the relations between Israel and Egypt, President Rivlin accepted the credentials of Hazem Ahdy Khairat, Egypt’s new ambassador to Israel.

Egypt’s new Ambassador to Israel Hazem Ahdy Khairat presented his diplomatic credentials to President Reuven Rivlin at an official ceremony at his the president’s residence in Jerusalem on Thursday.

Israel and Egypt signed a historic peace accord in 1979, but relations have often been cool.

Khairat’s appointment marks the end of a three year period since November 2012, during which there was no Egyptian ambassador in Israel.

Since the ouster in 2013 of  Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the rise to power of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, Israel-Egypt relations have steadily improved.

Rivlin said that while he welcomed ambassadors from around the world, “it is very special to welcome ambassadors from our close and important neighbors,” from Arab countries.

He cited Israel’s close ties and cooperation with Egypt. “We have found a way to live together in peace and friendship. This is a message to the whole region, and the whole world.”

“We may not agree on everything, but we respect each other and because of this we will build a shared future,” the president said.

Ambassador Khairat thanked the President for the warm welcome and said, “We must take responsibility for the benefit of those who live in this region, to bring prosperity, justice, hope and equality.”

The President wished him success in his new role, expressing his “sincere hope” that “you and your family will feel at home.”

Before departing, the Ambassador signed the official guestbook in Arabic and wrote, “I presented today my letter of credence to his honor President Rivlin. We spoke in a constructive atmosphere regarding the urgent matters and agreed to work together to reach a comprehensive, and just peace in the region.”

In September 2015, Israel reopened its embassy in Cairo, four years after it was ransacked by a violent mob and forced to shut down.

By: Max Gelber, United with Israel