Published: Mon, January 08, 2018
World | By Paul Elliott

Egypt denies it urged quiet acceptance of Trump's Jerusalem decision

Egypt denies it urged quiet acceptance of Trump's Jerusalem decision

The New York Times purports to have the intelligence officer, identified as Captain Ashraf Al Kholi, on audio tape telling "several influential talk show hosts" that Palestinians should forget about having Jerusalem as the capital of their eventual state and "content themselves with the dreary West Bank town that now houses the Palestinian Authority, Ramallah".

In all four audio recordings obtained by the NYT, so-called officer Ashraf el-Kholi said, "How is Jerusalem different from Ramallah, really?"

Nonetheless, the claims resonate with readers familiar with a series of leaked telephone recordings of Egyptian officials that have aired since president Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood was removed from office and replaced by Abdel Fattah El Sisi, a former head of military intelligence, in 2013.

"The report is completely false", Azmi Megahed, the only one of the four people cited in The New York Times report who now hosts a TV show in Egypt, told the independent news portal Masrawy.

Following the report, the Egyptian State Information Service said: "Egypt's positions on worldwide issues are not derived from alleged leaks from an anonymous source". Rather, Egypt's positions are conveyed by the president, the minister of foreign affairs and in official statements as well. On Saturday its foreign minister, Sameh Shukri, participated in an Arab meeting to underscore support for east Jerusalem being the Palestinian capital.

Azmy Megahed, who was the fourth host on the list, denied to SIS knowing who Ashral el-Kholi is.

"We, like all our Arab brothers, are denouncing this matter", Kholi continued. Adding that there is no evidence that al-Kholi, was in fact a member of the Egyptian intelligence. "What matters is ending the suffering of the Palestinian people", Kholi concluded.

"The point that is risky for us is the intifada issue".

Egypt has long accused Hamas of supporting groups fighting its security forces in the Sinai peninsula, a region that borders Gaza and Israel. "Hamas would be reborn once more".

The TV personalities mentioned in the New York Times report denied involvement in the case, saying they do not know anyone by the name of Ashraf Al-Khouly.

According to a Times report in December, the Saudis have urged Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to accept Abu Dis as the Palestinian capital instead of east Jerusalem. Later on, he said in press statements that he intends to file a complaint. A Palestinian legislator, who asked not to be identified, said there was probably truth in the Times report about Egypt.

"There is a political decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and we will strive to reach an worldwide political decision to recognize a Palestinian state ... with (eastern) Jerusalem as its capital", Safadi said. "I haven't seen [other] references to Ramallah as capital but they did want to be sure the crisis didn't become too big".

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