Iran lauds Egypt house vote to expel Israel envoy

Islamist-dominated lower parliament says Cairo will “never be a friend, partner or ally of the Zionist entity.”

Egypt lower parliament, Majlis As-Shaab - Photo by Reuters

Egypt lower parliament, Majlis As-Shaab - Photo by Reuters

Iran on Tuesday applauded the Egyptian parliament’s demand a day earlier that Cairo expel Israel’s ambassador over Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip.

“Egypt will never be the friend, partner or ally of the Zionist entity which we consider as the first enemy of Egypt and the Arab nation,” said the statement from Egypt’s lower house of parliament, which called on the Egyptian government to “revise all its relations and agreements with that enemy.”

The text called for supporting Palestinian “resistance… in all its kind and forms” in the face of the Jewish state’s “aggressive policies,” Egypt’s official Middle East News Agency reported. The statement – approved unanimously in the Islamist-dominated chamber – also called pulling Egypt’s ambassador from Tel Aviv and for an immediate end to natural gas exports to Israel.Parliament speaker Mohamed Saad el-Katatni – representing the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party – asked a parliamentary committee to “follow the government’s implementation of parliament’s demands,” MENA reported.

News of the statement was welcomed in Tehran, whose Shi’ite theocracy has enjoyed warming ties with Egypt since its former president Hosni Mubarak was ousted in a popular uprising over a year ago.

The move by the Egyptian parliament was a “natural” and “logical” response to “the crimes of the Zionist regime,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Tuesday, according to the English-language Tehran Times.

“When people in independent countries take over the helm of affairs, they do not tolerate the crimes of the Zionist regime, and the move by the Egyptian parliament was a natural response,” Mehmanparast said. “The move by the Egyptian parliament is considered logical… and we hope that all regional countries will achieve a good degree of independence to end invasions of the occupying Zionist regime.”

Islamists – led by the Brotherhood bus also including hardline Salafists and the more mainstream Al-Wasat party – make up about 70 percent of Egypt’s lower house of parliament and a similar proportion of the largely-ceremonial upper house, or Shura Council.

Egypt’s parliament is responsible for appointing a 100-member constituent assembly in charge of drafting a new constitution for the country. Islamists would like to see the new document reduce the powers of the presidency in favor of the legislature.

Monday’s vote is largely symbolic, as ultimate authority in Egypt still resides with the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) that took control of government after Mubarak’s exit.

Yaakov Amitai, Israel’s new ambassador in Cairo, presented his credentials to SCAF leader Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi last month. Still, the Israeli diplomatic mission there has remained without a home since September, when the embassy was evacuated after hundreds of rioters stormed the premises, looted the offices and removed the Israeli flag.

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