February 27, 2012 / 5:54 PM / in 6 years

Israel envoy to Egypt takes office, securing ties

JERUSALEM, Feb 27 (Reuters) - The first Israeli ambassador named to Egypt since Hosni Mubarak was toppled a year ago officially took office in Cairo on Monday, an Israeli official said, in a step suggesting continued normal ties between the two neighbouring countries.

The envoy, Yaacov Amitai, was named last year to replace Yitzhak Levanon, who left the Egyptian capital in September when rioters stormed the Israeli embassy in protest of a deadly border shooting incident.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry said the Israeli national anthem was played at a Cairo ceremony at which Amitai met Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, head of the military council ruling Egypt since a popular revolt toppled Mubarak in February 2011.

Egyptian news agency MENA said Amitai was among 14 ambassadors recognised at the ceremony.

Many in Israel had worried that ties with Egypt, the first of two Arab states to forge a peace treaty with the Jewish state, could be jeopardised after Mubarak’s fall.

The Muslim Brotherhood, a party once critical of the 1979 treaty and which emerged as the largest faction after Egypt’s parliamentary poll, threatened last week to review the accord with Israel, if Washington made good on a threat to withhold aid over Cairo’s arrest of 19 American activists.

But the Egyptian military council, which was expected to remain in charge until an election scheduled in June, has pledged to honour the treaty with Israel alongside Egypt’s other international obligations.

Additional reporting by Tamim Elyan in Cairo; Writing by Allyn Fisher-Ilan; Editing by Alison Williams

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