Lawmaker-booted-from-Egyptian-Parliament-for-meeting-Israeli-ambassador. CAIRO, The Egyptian Parliament expelled one of its own from the governmental body for meeting with an Israeli diplomat.
Tawfik Okasha, a television broadcaster and outspoken member of Parliament, was dismissed Wednesday after 120 of his colleagues submitted a request to question why he dined with Israeli Ambassador Haim Koren last week. Some 403 of Okasha’s colleagues voted to expel him Wednesday.
Dinner with Koren last week focused on Israeli cooperation with Ethiopia in the building of a Nile River dam which some Egyptians fear will reduce water to Egypt, Okasha said, though he admitted Israeli actions in Palestine were also under discussion. The meeting was regarded as a serious breach of diplomacy; although Egypt and Israel signed a peace treaty in 1979, and they cooperate on security matters, public collaboration with Israeli officials is regarded as out-of-bounds in Egypt. Okasha’s meeting with Koren was considered a violation of a parliamentary boycott of Israel.
One legislator, Kamal Ahmed, expressed his displeasure earlier this week by beating Okasha over the head with a shoe at a chamber meeting. Ahmed was later condemned by other members of Parliament for his attack.
Okasha has run afoul of the Egyptian government in the past. In December he said security agencies manipulated the election of President Albel Fattah el-Sisi, suggesting former military leader Abbas Kamel had excessive influence over the government. Okasha recently called for new presidential elections.
Of the expulsion from Parliament, Khaled Suleiman, Okasha’s lawyer, said his client was “expecting a backlash for meeting the ambassador, but nothing close to this.”
By Ed Adamczyk