Egypt on Sunday appointed a new ambassador to Israel to fill a post that had been vacant since Egypt's first democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi 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 el-Sissi. 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 Morsi's June 2012 election as president following the ouster of his predecessor Hosni Mubarak in the 2011 uprising. Morsi recalled Egyptian envoy after Israel carried out deadly airstrikes on Gaza Strip and killed one of Hamas's top leaders Ahmed Jaabari. After Morsi and his government were overthrown by the incumbent President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, Israeli-Egyptian relations have made positive steps as the coup administration, like Israel, calls Hamas terror organization.