Egyptian TV hosts deny being ordered to publicly back Trump Jerusalem move

Egyptian TV hosts deny being ordered to publicly back Trump Jerusalem move

In secret conversations unearthed by The New York Times, government intelligence officials pushed talk show hosts to peddle a government narrative accepting Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the "undivided" capital of Israel, despite a public facade of outrage over the move.

Egypt vehemently rejected a report on Sunday claiming that Egyptian officials were quietly passing the word in local media to go along with U.S. President Donald Trump's declaration of Yerushalayim as Israel's capital.

Intel official Captain Ashraf al-Kholi had urged hosts to persuade viewers to accept Mr. Trump's decision, the Times said, citing taped conversations.

"We have enough on our plate as you know", Kholi said to the hosts.

The recordings in Arabic, aired by Mekameleen TV late on Sunday, were first reported on by the New York Times and appeared to contradict Egypt's public condemnation of the United States move.

"Exactly that", agreed one host, Azmi Megahed, who confirmed the authenticity of the recording.

SIS' press release read that the NYT didn't provide any evidence that el-Kholi is an officer who works with Egypt's General Intelligence, adding that it is inappropriate for a reputable newspaper to publish such allegations.

The statement added that Egypt has expressed "in word and dead" its position on the Jerusalem issue at the United Nations despite threats by the USA to cut off aid to countries that condemn its Jerusalem decision at the UN General Assembly.

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But the State Information Service said that Megahed was the only one of the four actively working as a television host and that he denied any knowledge of a man named Ashraf al-Kholi.

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.

El-Kholi called the reaction to Trump's decision "dangerous" and said it could strengthen Hamas, the group that controls the Gaza Strip. "Hamas would be reborn once more", Kholi said, according to the paper.

But strife with Israel was not in Egypt's national interest, Capt. Kholi said.

'How is Jerusalem different from Ramallah?' "An intifada would not serve Egypt's national security interests because an intifada would revive the Islamists and Hamas".

Egypt was among one of the first countries to criticise the decision by US President Donald Trump, which prompted widespread global condemnation and deadly protests in the occupied Palestinian territories. "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". "What matters is ending the suffering of the Palestinian people", Kholi concluded. "I have no problem saying all of the things you have heard in that call in public".

The other calls were with Mofid Fawzy, who denied speaking to el-Kholi, and with Egyptian singer and actress Youssra.

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