‘Warming of Relations’? Israel and Egypt Launch Direct Tel Aviv-Sharm el-Sheikh Flights

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Photo by Kobi Richter/TPS on 30 January, 2020
By Aryeh Savir/TPS • 16 March, 2022

Jerusalem, 16 March, 2022 (TPS) — Israel and Egypt agreed on Wednesday to expand direct flights between the two countries and launched a new route between Ben-Gurion International Airport and Sharm el-Sheikh.

The Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement that the matter was discussed at the meeting between Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in Sharm el-Sheikh last September.

This new agreement was finalized “over the last few days” following a long process carried out with the National Security Council and additional officials, together with the Egyptian government.

Flights are expected to begin during Passover next month.

Attempting to collect a few political points, Bennett asserted that “this agreement will further warm the relations between Israel and Egypt. The cooperation between our two countries is expanding in many fields, and this is contributing to both peoples and to regional stability.”

However, several pundits pointed out several errors in his statements.

The agreement in principle on the opening of the line was actually reached on March 21, 2021, in a meeting between then Minister of Intelligence Eli Cohen, and the Egyptian Deputy Minister of Intelligence Fahmi Shahon, and not in recent days, as the PMO claimed.

The Egyptians have since worked to upgrade security in the Sharm el-Sheikh area, including building a fence around the resort complex.

It is of significance to note that while Bennett celebrated the new line, the National Security Council’s travel advisory for the southern Sinai is still at Level 3 with a recommendation not to visit the area.

Most importantly, Jacky Hugi, the IDF Radio Arab affairs editor, pointed out that this new line will not “further warm the relations between Israel and Egypt.”

“Establishing a direct line is nice, but it’s an engagement between national corporations and capital tycoons. The elites take care of themselves, and the peoples benefit only on the margins. Peace is not a money machine. It is a cultural perception. Warming of relations with Egypt will happen when both sides bring to the common citizen here and there something that only he will enjoy. The citizen first, and the state after,” he wrote.

The warming of relations will happen “when an Egyptian athlete is allowed to compete with an Israeli. When an Egyptian artist is allowed to present an exhibition in Tel Aviv. When an Egyptian politician is allowed to speak to an Israeli newspaper, and when the Egyptian academy is allowed to invite an Israeli colleague. All this is forbidden in Cairo by instruction from above, as it is forbidden in Iran,” he pointed out.

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