Israel Vows to Keep Peace With Egypt Despite Embassy Attack

Posted September 10th, 2011 at 2:20 pm (UTC-5)
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says his country will continue to stand by its peace agreements with Egypt, in spite of a mob attack on the Israeli embassy in Cairo.

Mr. Netanyahu said Saturday that Israel is working with Egyptian officials to return the embassy staff to Cairo as soon as possible. He also thanked U.S. President Barack Obama for his assistance during the ordeal.

On Friday, protesters tore down sections of a security wall, raided the embassy and tossed documents outside.

The assault prompted Israeli Ambassador Yitzhak Levanon, his family and 80 staff members to hastily leave the country and return to Israel. However, Mr. Netanyahu said, at one point, only one door separated a group of staffers who remained trapped in the building from angry demonstrators. They were eventually freed with the help of Egyptian commandos.

Diplomatic relations between Israel and Egypt have been tense since Israeli forces mistakenly killed five Egyptian police officers last month near the border while responding to a cross-border militant attack.

Public anger over that event has escalated in Egypt. Also, there have been heightened calls for Egypt to end its historic 1979 peace treaty with Israel since former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's February resignation.

On Saturday, Egypt announced emergency measures to restore order. Information Minister Osama Hassan Heikal said legal measures were being taken to transfer suspects detained for Friday's violence to an emergency state security court.

Earlier, the state-run MENA news agency said military police had arrested 19 people for their alleged roles in the attack.

Also, security forces remained on high alert on Saturday after protesters made a second attempt to break into the building.