Hundreds of Egyptian activists demolish a concrete wall built around a building housing the Israeli embassy in Cairo, Egypt, to protect it against demonstrators, Sept. 9, 2011. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
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After decades of wars followed by years of an uneasy peace, Israel has emerged as a discreet ally to Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, along with powerhouse Saudi Arabia and smaller Gulf Arab countries.Sisi, who as army chief overthrew his elected but divisive predecessor, the Islamist Mohammad Morsi in 2013, was heavily supported by those Gulf states. He has helped Israel further isolate the Hamas militants ruling the Gaza Strip, the tiny slice of Palestinian territory wedged between Egypt and Israel. Hamas had close ties with the former Egyptian leader and is rooted in Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood. Last May, Netanyahu welcomed what he described as Sisi's "willingness" to help advance the peace process with the Palestinians, after Sisi said that Egypt's relations with Israel could be warmer if it made peace with the Palestinians.Israel closed its embassy in Cairo during the tumult that followed the 2011 uprising against longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak, when outraged crowds attacked it over the killing of five Egyptian policemen by Israeli forces chasing militants in the Sinai.Leading figures across Egypt's political spectrum still reject full normalization of Egyptian-Israeli relations, with many professional associations and labor unions banning members from visiting Israel.
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