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Israel calls in Egypt envoy, says peace deal vital

Reuters

September 16, 2011 | 9:21 am

Egyptians chant slogans against the government and military rulers after Friday prayers in Tahrir square in Cairo on Sept. 9.  Photo by REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El-Ghany

Egyptians chant slogans against the government and military rulers after Friday prayers in Tahrir square in Cairo on Sept. 9. Photo by REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El-Ghany

Israel’s foreign ministry called in the Egyptian ambassador on Friday to stress the importance of the two countries’ historic peace accord, an Israeli official said, after Egypt’s prime minister said the treaty was not “sacred”.

Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf told Turkish television on Thursday that the 1979 peace accord with Israel could be changed for the benefit of the region.

An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said foreign ministry Director General Rafi Barak told Egyptian envoy Yasser Reda that treaties must be honored to the letter.

An Israeli foreign ministry spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

Israel and Egypt fought four major wars in which tens of thousands lost their lives before they signed the 1979 treaty, ushering in more than three decades of relative calm.

Relations between Egypt and Israel, strained since the ousting of former president Hosni Mubarak in February, were plunged into crisis last Saturday when protesters in Cairo stormed the Jewish state’s embassy, forcing most of its diplomats to flee Egypt.

A cross-border attack last month has also frayed ties between the two states, with Israeli forces killing five Egyptian security guards during gun battles with Palestinian militants, who had earlier ambushed and killed eight Israelis.

Writing by Maayan Lubell; editing by David Stamp

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