Egypt MP hit by shoe after hosting Israeli ambassador

Tawfik Okasha, a controversial politician and TV host, attacked in parliament after dinner with Israel’s envoy.

Tawfiq Okasha
Okasha, an MP and TV host known for courting controversy, has previously staged parliamentary protests [File: Said Shahat/AP]

An Egyptian MP has been hit by a shoe thrown by a colleague inside parliament after hosting the Israeli ambassador for dinner last week.

Tawfik Okasha, who is also a TV presenter, was attacked in parliament in Cairo on Sunday, days after receiving Israeli ambassador Haim Koren for dinner at his home in the northeastern Dakahlia province.

The dinner sparked outrage in the media and in Egypt’s parliament, with several politicians demanding Okasha be dismissed from parliament and one colleague, Kamal Ahmed, hurling his shoe during the session in a fit of anger.

A video surfaced online showing Sunday’s shoe-throwing incident, which was followed by applause from many of the MPs present.

Both Okasha and Ahmed were thrown out of the chamber following the incident, according to the parliament website. Shortly after, an Arabic hashtag titled “Tawfik Okasha shoe attack” trended on Twitter in Egypt.

At last last week’s dinner meeting, Okasha and Koren reportedly discussed topics such as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, as well as Ethiopia’s Renaissance dam. 

The Israeli embassy’s Facebook page highlighted the three-hour dinner and released photos of the two on social media.

Ambassador Koren spoke to the Reuters news agency about the evening, which took place on Wednesday. 

“[Okasha] proposed the meeting, at which he raised ideas of us helping Egypt in the areas of water, 
agriculture and education – to try to set up a number of schools with Israeli training,” Koren said.

“I offered to work on putting this together, and that we meet again. I will soon be inviting him over to our place.” 

A number of people from Dakahlia signed petitions condemning the dinner, according to Egyptian newspaper al-Masry al-Youm. A group of MPs had also submitted requests to the parliament’s speaker, Ali Abdel Al, calling for Okasha to be punished.

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Egypt was the first of a handful of Arab countries to recognise Israel with a United States-sponsored 1979 peace accord, but Egyptian attitudes to the country’s neighbour remain icy.

Israel has an ambassador stationed in Cairo but Egyptian officials make a point of keeping their distance and the embassy has been the focal point of protests in the past.

Okasha told local media before the opening of Sunday’s session that he had done nothing wrong since Egypt enjoys full diplomatic relations with Israel.

Okasha had earlier slammed his critics on his own television channel on Saturday, before making claims that Egypt currently has 22 Israeli companies operating within the country.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies