JERUSALEM (AFP) - Anti-Arab verbal and physical attacks inside Israel have spiked in the wake of elections held earlier this year in which right-wing parties made major gains, a human rights group said on Sunday. The Mossawa Centre for the Rights of Arab Citizens in Israel has documented 250 incidents of aggression against Arab Israelis since the start of the year, compared to 166 in all of 2008, the group said in a report. "The physical and verbal aggression has increased mainly in cities with mixed Arab-Jewish populations," the report said. "The increase in incidents indicating anti-Arab racism is apparently related to the electoral campaign for the February 10 elections in which candidates played the anti-Arab card, almost giving a green light to aggression," Nidal Hotman, an attorney and spokesman for the group, told AFP. He was referring mainly to the campaign of Avigdor Lieberman, a tough-talking immigrant from the former Soviet Union who has taken a hard line on Israeli Arabs and been called a "racist" and "fascist" by his critics. The centrepiece of his campaign was the demand that all Israeli citizens take an oath of loyalty to the Jewish state, a policy derided as racist by many in the Arab Israeli community which makes up 20 percent of Israel's population. Lieberman's party won 15 seats in the 120-member Israeli parliament, or Knesset, and prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu has tapped him to become the next foreign minister pending the formation of a new government. Israel's 1.2 million Arab citizens are the descendants of the 160,000 Arabs who did not flee or were not driven out of what is now Israel during the 1948 war that followed the creation of the Jewish state. Lieberman has said Arab population centres in Israel should be transferred to Palestinian control in a final peace settlement in exchange for Israel keeping the main Jewish settlement blocs in the occupied West Bank. Meanwhile, Israeli premier-designate Benjamin Netanyahu is seeking to reassure Cairo over choosing a firebrand who once told the Egyptian president to "go to hell" as his foreign minister, his office said on Sunday. The move comes, as the two nations get ready to mark the 30th anniversary of their landmark peace treaty later this week. The key post in Netanyahu's government is set to be filled by the outspoken Avigdor Lieberman, who last October said Mubarak could "go to hell" if he continued to decline to visit the Jewish state. "Close aides of Netanyahu and Lieberman have met with Egyptian officials to explain to them that the arrival of Lieberman at the foreign ministry should not be a reason for tension between the two countries," a statement from Netanyahu's office said. As part of these efforts, the head of the national security council in Netanyahu's govt met the Egyptian ambassador to Israel last Wednesday, it said. Israel and Egypt will this week mark 30 years since the signing of their landmark peace treaty, and the choice of Lieberman for the foreign ministry post has, according to the Israeli press, ruffled feathers in Cairo. The discontent rose to such a level that several Egyptian officials warned Cairo would boycott the Israeli ceremony to mark the signing this week, the press said. Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki said however that the ambassador would be attending the ceremony, calling it an "appropriate opportunity to assess the past and to look to the future." He added that the anniversary would allow both sides to explore "how this (Israeli-Egyptian) peace can help stabilise a wider peace in the region," in remarks carried Sunday by the state-run MENA news agency. Officials from Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu party have meanwhile "held direct contacts with the highest Egyptian officials in Israel and Cairo," said Danny Ayalon, tapped to be Lieberman's deputy in the foreign ministry. "The discussions that have taken place make for an excellent base for the continuing of the excellent work relations between the two countries," Ayalon told public radio.