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Report: Egypt army blocks Israel ambassador recall

Aug. 22, 2011 11:05 A.M. (Updated: Aug. 22, 2011 9:16 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- A last minute decision by Egypt's military government head Muhammad Tantawi halted the recall of Egypt's ambassador to Israel, Israel's Hebrew-language daily said Monday.

Amb. Yasser Rida, "had already packed," when Field Marshall Tantawi overruled the Egyptian Prime Minister's decision, report said.

Tantawi is head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which has governed Egypt since former President Hosni Mubarak was ousted in February.

Egypt's cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Essam Sharaf, opted to withdraw the ambassador, the report said, following the killing of five Egyptian soldiers by Israeli forces pursuing assailants in Thursday's attacks in southern Israel.

Tantawi summoned Sharaf to request overturning the decision, Maariv reported.

Egypt had demanded that Israel apologize for the deaths, threatening to pull out diplomats. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak issued an apology on Saturday, and pledged an investigation into the deaths.

But an Egyptian cabinet statement Sunday said the apology was "was not in keeping with the magnitude of the incident and the state of Egyptian anger toward Israeli actions."

The cabinet demanded a time line for the investigation into the police killings.

Egypt was the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, but since Mubarak's removal Egypt's rulers have faced increasing calls to review the terms of the agreement.
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