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Israeli official in Cairo seeking improved defense ties with Egypt’s military

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TEL AVIV — Israel has sought to strengthen military cooperation
with Egypt in wake of the ouster of its first Islamist president.

Officials said the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu sent an envoy to Cairo to discuss intensified cooperation with
Egypt’s new ruling military.

The Israel-Egypt border at Sinai.

The Israel-Egypt border at Sinai.

The officials said Israel determined that the overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi presented an opportunity to advance border security efforts with Egypt.

“The goal is to restore an intelligence exchange that would determine threats from Sinai,” an official said.

Officials said the Israeli envoy arrived in Cairo on July 4. They said a key Israeli concern was that Sinai would be used by Hamas and Islamic Jihad as a launching pad for rocket attacks on the Jewish state. On July 4, at least two rockets were believed to have been fired toward the southern Israeli port of Eilat, located next to Sinai.

“These groups might be coordinated with the [ousted] Muslim Brotherhood
to destabilize Sinai as well as neighboring Israel,” the official said.

Officials said the United States successfully pressed the Morsi regime
to maintain security coordination with Israel regarding Sinai. But they
said Cairo broke off virtually all diplomatic contacts.

“Even in the year the Muslim Brotherhood was in power, they did not
renege on the peace treaty [with Israel], and as far as stopping smuggling
[from Sinai into the Gaza Strip] and handling Hamas, they were reasonable,”
former Israeli Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi said.

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