Egypt recalls delegation in Jerusalem


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Egypt recalled a delegation visiting Israel in an apparent protest over the closure of Gaza crossings.

Israel’s Security Cabinet decided this week to keep the crossings closed until kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit is returned.

The Egyptian delegation, in Israel for commercial cooperation talks, and Foreign Ministry officials were called back to Cairo on Thursday shortly after arriving in Jerusalem.

Israel’s daily Ha’aretz reported that Egypt’s ambassador to Israel told the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem that the commerce talks were canceled for technical reasons that required in-person consultations. The delegation could return for talks as early as next week, according to Ha’aretz.

Egypt has been mediating a cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas since Operation Cast Lead ended last month with each side calling a temporary cease-fire.

Egypt’s Foreign Ministry spokesman on Thursday called Israel’s demand that Shalit be released before a long-term Gaza truce deal with Hamas is negotiated is a blow to Egyptian mediation efforts between the two sides, Ynet reported.

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