Egypt denies its intelligence agent suggested Ramallah be Palestinian capital

Egypt officially rejects the idea that a state representative would promote any city other than eastern Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital.

By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

In a detailed release on Sunday, the Egyptian State Information Service (SIS) repudiated every element of Saturday’s New York Times report, which claimed that an Egyptian intelligence official had encouraged several talk show hosts to push the idea that Ramallah was an acceptable substitute for Jerusalem as the eventual capital of ‘Palestine.’

The Saturday report stated that the Times had obtained audio recordings of telephone calls made by an intelligence officer named Captain Ashraf al-Kholi to four “influential” radio hosts after US President Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. In the calls, he allegedly asked that they not only refrain from condemning Trump’s declaration, but also help persuade the Egyptian public to think of Ramallah – the current seat of the Palestinian Authority government — as a tolerable choice instead.

Although the government would publicly slam the suggestion, strife with Israel was not in Egypt’s national interest, Kholi allegedly told the hosts. “The point that is dangerous for us is the intifada issue. An intifada would not serve Egypt’s national security interests because an intifada would revive the Islamists and Hamas. Hamas would be reborn once more,” he reportedly said.

Hamas is an extension of the Muslim Brotherhood, an extremist Sunni Islamist organization that briefly took power in Egypt in 2012 after the fall of President Hosni Mubarak. When it was ousted one year later by Defense Minister Abdel al-Sisi, who then became president, Egyptian relations with Hamas soured as well, although recently attempts have been made to repair them.

The SIS responded to the article by roundly criticizing the Times as “inappropriate” for publishing such allegations. SIS clarified that three of the supposed radio personalities mentioned in the article did not have shows on the air, and the fourth denied knowing Kholi. Moreover, “Egypt’s positions are conveyed by the President, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and in official statements,” all of which “have expressed, in word and deed, the inalienable position on Jerusalem.”