JERUSALEM (JTA) – A top Egyptian official met in Jerusalem with Israel’s foreign minister, despite Egypt’s threats to boycott the right-wing lawmaker.
Avigdor Lieberman’s meeting Wednesday evening with Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, which was not publicly announced but reported by Israel’s Channel 1, may signal a change of heart by Cairo.
Egypt had threatened not to work with Lieberman over previous statements about Egypt and its president, Hosni Mubarak.
"Mr. Lieberman expressed his respect and appreciation for Egypt’s leading role in the region and his personal respect for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Minister Suleiman," said a statement from the Israeli Foreign Ministry.
Lieberman has criticized Mubarak for not making reciprocal visits to Israel, saying he could "go to hell."
Later Wednesday evening, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Suleiman, who on behalf of Mubarak invited him to visit Egypt, according to the Prime Minister’s Office. During the two-hour meeting the leaders discussed bilateral relations, the diplomatic process, the struggle against terrorism, the situation in the Gaza Strip and kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.
Suleiman is the most senior Egyptian official to have visited Israel in recent months.