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Unrest in Cairo May Slow Down Israeli-egyptian Normalization Process

Political sources expressed concern Thursday that unrest in Cairo will slow down the process of normalization between Egypt and Israel.

According to these sources, President Hosni Mubarak, confronted by rioting police conscripts and related problems, will be unable to honor his commitments to pursue the normalization process. The process has been proceeding in tandem with Israel-Egyptian negotiations over arbitration of the Taba border dispute.

But one of Israel’s chief negotiators, Avraham Tamir, Director General of the Prime Minister’s Office, said Thursday that the riots would not affect relations between the two countries.

He told Haaretz that the Israeli negotiating team, which he heads jointly with David Kimche, Director General of the Foreign Ministry, will go to Cairo as planned next Monday for the next round of talks. The last round was held at Herzliya a week ago. Tamir said that once Mubarak puts down the present unrest he would have stronger control over extremists in the opposition.

More than 2,000 police conscripts went on a rampage in Cairo Tuesday, wrecking four tourist hotels and engaging in gun battles with military units. They were enflamed by rumors — which the government says are false — that their three-year required tour of duty would be extended by another year.

Moshe Sasson, Israel’s Ambassador in Cairo, told the Israeli media Thursday that all Israeli diplomats in the capital and their families are safe. He said Egyptian security forces are in control of the situation and spirits have already calmed down. The Egyptian authorities have reinforced security guards around all foreign legations, including the Israeli Embassy and ambassadorial residences.

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