Egypts sends new ambassador in Israel, move seen as further sign of strengthened ties between the two countries

Egypt's President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi Egypt’s President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi

Egypt has sent a new ambassador to Israel, a move Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said will lead to a further strengthening of ties between Cairo and Jerusalem.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi appointed Hazem Khairat, a veteran diplomat, to the post in June.

“I welcome the re-stationing of an Egyptian ambassador to Israel, which will enable us to further strengthen relations with this important and central Arab country,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on Sunday.

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

Egypt withdrew its ambassador in November 2012 to protest the Israeli offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip during Operation ‘Pillar of Defense.’ At the time, Egypt was led by Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. Since Morsi was ousted by the military in 2013, relations have steadily improved.

In September, Israel reopened its embassy in Cairo, four years after it was ransacked by a crowd protesting the deaths of five Egyptian policemen killed unintentionally by Israeli forces chasing a group of Gaza terrorists.