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 on Sunday denied a US media report claiming that it has given a "tacit" acceptance to President Donald Trump's decision to officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. He told the hosts that instead of condemning the decision, they should persuade their viewers to accept it. Palestinians, he suggested, should content themselves with the dreary West Bank town that now houses the Palestinian Authority, Ramallah.
"How is Jerusalem different from Ramallah, really?" he asked each time.
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 worldwide correspondent.
The report said that Kholi told the talk show hosts that the Palestinian threat to spark a third intifada against Israel in response to Trump's statement would be bad for Egypt since it would "revive the Islamists and Hamas".
A statement by the State Information Service said: "Egypt's positions on global issues are not derived from alleged leaks from an anonymous source".
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. "We have enough on our plate".
"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".
"The point that is unsafe for us is the intifada issue. Hamas would be reborn once more", he reportedly said.
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Egypt has long accused Hamas of supporting groups fighting its security forces in the Sinai peninsula, a region that borders Gaza and Israel.
The government statement also said there is no evidence that al-Kholi is actually a member of the security services.
"At the end of the day, later on, Jerusalem won't be much different from Ramallah".
"There is a political decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and we will strive to reach an global political decision to recognize a Palestinian state ... with (eastern) Jerusalem as its capital", Safadi said.
A set of leaked audiotapes reveal that the Egyptian government has all but abandoned its solidarity with the Palestinian people.
It also referred to an Egyptian-led resolution at the United Nations last month that rejected US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
"I am friends with Ashraf and we talk all the time", Megahed said.
The article claimed it is common practice for Egyptian intelligence officers to brief talk show hosts about what the state wants to be said or left unsaid in the mass media.
The Times said Kholi held conversations with others it described as well-known hosts, Mofid Fawzy and Saeed Hassaseen, as well as with singer-actress Cevine Nessim, known by her stage name Yousra.