Egypt denies its intelligence agent suggested Ramallah be Palestinian capital

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The Egyptian government vociferously denied on Sunday a New York Times report that suggested that Egypt's outward policy towards US President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, was contradictory to internal discussions held behind closed doors in Cairo.

The report claimed the existence of an audio recording of telephone calls where an Egyptian intelligence officer by the name of Ashraf Al-Khouly instructed hosts of several talk shows to, "instead of condemning the decision, they should persuade their viewers to accept it".

Egyptian intelligence officer Capt. Ashraf al-Kholi is overheard saying that "like all our Arab brothers" Egypt should publicly condemn the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital but, behind closed doors, Kholi asked "How is Jerusalem different from Ramallah, really?"

While Egypt would denounce the decision in public, Al-Khouly reportedly said that it is not in the interest of the state for relations with Israel to remain conflictual.

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The debate caught fire when The New York Times published a report on Saturday titled "Tapes Reveal Egyptian Leaders' Tacit Acceptance of Jerusalem Move" by David D. Kirkpatrick, the Times' London-based global correspondent.

SIS insisted the report was erroneous, pointing out that it named four persons as presenters of "influential talk shows", including Mofid Fawzy, Saeed Hassaseen, Yousra and Azmi Megahed.

"It is inappropriate for The New York Times, a reputable newspaper, to publish such allegations", said an official statement by Egypt's State Information Service (SIS). "All of the entities in charge have expressed in word and deed the inalienable position on Jerusalem in the UN and other global organizations with disregard for the threats of the U.S. to cut aid to countries including Egypt over the UN Jerusalem vote". "We have enough on our plate as you know".

On Saturday, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi met with Arab foreign ministers from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, the UAE and the Palestinian Authority as well as Arab League chief Ahmed Abul Gheit to discuss seeking global recognition of eastern Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital.

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"The point that is unsafe for us is the intifada issue", Captain Kholi explained. "Hamas would be reborn once more".

"An Intifada [uprising] would not serve Egypt's national security interests because an Intifada would revive the Islamists and Hamas", el-Kholi said.

In response, the SIS stated that the NYT report mentioned four of the "hosts of influential talk shows".

Following US president Donald Trump declaration of Jerusalem as Israel's capital that caused rage in several Arab countries, Egypt filed a condemnation resolution to the United Nations security council. Later on, he said in press statements that he intends to file a complaint. "Concessions are a must and if we reach a concession whereby Jerusalem will be - Ramallah will be the capital of Palestine, to end the war and so no one else dies, then we would go for it". Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas warned that Trump's announcement "will lead to wars without end". "Another intifada would be bad".

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