Cairo buys prominent TV hosts to influence public opinion over Trump’s Jerusalem decision

The Egyptian government has asked four of the country’s most influential television hosts to influence their viewers towards accepting Trump’s December declaration that Jerusalem is capital of Israel despite the official stand expressed by Cairo, New Times Times (NYT) reports, basing the revelation on tapes it obtained.

Four audio recordings obtained by US-based media reveal one intelligence officer, captain Ashraf al-Kholi secretly telling the hosts to influence their viewers’ opinion, according to Egypt private stance on the Trump’s decision.

“I was just calling to tell you what our public stance is, so if you go on TV or speak in an interview, I am telling you what is the stance of Egypt’s national security apparatus and what it stands to benefit from in this matter of announcing Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel, O.K.?” Kholi said to one host in one of the recordings obtained by NYT.

“We, like all our Arab brothers, are denouncing this matter,” Captain Kholi continued.

But “after that, this thing will become a reality. Palestinians can’t resist and we don’t want to go to war. We have enough on our plate as you know.”

Cairo officially slammed Trump’s decision declaring the Old City capital of Israel as most Arab countries, but Kholi suggests to Palestinians to concede the disputed city whose eastern part they hope to declare capital of the future Palestinian state.

Kholi proposes Ramallah, the current seat of the Palestinian Authority, in occupied West Bank as the Palestinian capital.

“How is Jerusalem different from Ramallah, really?” he asked in each of the recordings.

“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.”

Egypt was the first Arab country to recognize Israel and has played a key role in talks between Palestinians and Israelis.

Cairo is currently overseeing a unity deal between Palestinian factions.

Palestinian factions namely Hamas in the Gaza strip and its rival Fatah in the West Bank have rejected Trump’s decision making it clear that Jerusalem is not for sale. Hamas threatened with a new intifada.

“The point that is dangerous for us is the intifada issue,” Captain Kholi was heard explaining to his interlocutors.

“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.”

Besides Egypt, other major Arab countries namely Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain have reportedly established secret ties with Israel on intelligence, security and a potential alliance against Iran and Muslim Brotherhood; a movement outlawed by Cairo.

New York Times was able to identify the four talk-shows hosts as Azmi Megahed, Mofid Fawzy, Saeed Hassaseen, and singer Yousra.

All four agreed to implement Kholi’s recommendations, NYT reports.

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