- Tawfiq Okasha met the Israeli ambassador in February
- Egypt was first Arab country to make peace with Israel in 1979
Egyptian lawmakers voted to revoke the membership of a lawmaker for meeting the Israeli ambassador, state media reported on Wednesday, underscoring the frosty nature of peace between the two countries almost four decades after the Camp David accords.
Tawfiq Okasha, a television talk-show host and a supporter of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, will be stripped of his seat after more than two-thirds of the legislature’s 596 members voted to expel him, the state-run Ahram Gate news website reported. The vote comes three days days after Okasha was struck with a shoe wielded by a colleague protesting what was seen as an attempt to normalize relations with Israel.
Egypt was the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel and military coordination has improved under El-Sisi, but many oppose stronger ties. Egyptian leaders have avoided visiting Israel since former President Anwar Sadat’s trip that preceded the 1979 accords. Islamist militants assassinated Sadat in 1981 for concluding the peace deal.
Okasha received the Israeli diplomat in his house last month, reportedly seeking Israeli support in Egypt’s dispute with Ethiopia, state media reported. Egypt says a dam Ethiopia is building may affect its access to water from the Nile River.
In a television appearance this week, Okasha said that he had documents proving that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu helped El-Sisi meet U.S. President Barack Obama during the United Nations General Assembly in New York in 2014.
Egypt held parliamentary elections late in 2015, three years after a court order dissolved an assembly dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood. El-Sisi billed the vote as Egypt’s final step in the transition to democracy after the ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in 2013, though his critics say the legislature is nothing more than a rubber-stamp body.