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Viewing cable 10CAIRO161, AFTER CONTROVERSY, NDP MEMBER RECEIVES WARNING FOR MEETING

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
10CAIRO161 2010-02-04 15:03 2011-02-16 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Cairo
VZCZCXYZ0004
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHEG #0161/01 0351519
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 041518Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0139
INFO ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
C O N F I D E N T I A L CAIRO 000161 
 
SIPDIS 
FOR NEA/ELA, NEA/IPA AND DRL/NESCA 
TEL AVIV FOR SIEVERS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 2035/02/04 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL SOCI IS EG
SUBJECT: AFTER CONTROVERSY, NDP MEMBER RECEIVES WARNING FOR MEETING 
WITH ISRAELI AMBASSADOR 
 
REF: 09 TEL AVIV 2585 
 
CLASSIFIED BY: Donald A. Blome, Minister-Counselor, State, ECPO; 
REASON: 1.4(B), (D) 
 
1. KEY POINTS 
 
 
 
-- (U) On February 2, the Press Syndicate issued a warning to 
National Democratic Party (NDP) member XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX for 
violating its ban on contact with Israelis by meeting September 14 
with the Israeli Ambassador in her office at the GOE-funded 
Al-Ahram Center. 
 
 
 
-- (C) XXXXXXXXXXXXXX told us this warning was the lightest reprimand  could have received, as the syndicate could have terminated  membership, thereby threatening XXX employment at the Al-Ahram 
Center. 
 
 
 
-- (C) XXXXXXXXXXXXXX told us she blames the GOE for orchestrating a flurry of critical press articles in the weeks following the 
meeting and the syndicate's disciplinary hearings she was summoned 
to attend. 
 
 
 
-- (C) Civil society contacts were surprised at XXXXXXXXXXXX's meeting with the Israeli Ambassador.  One human rights activist told us 
that while he sometimes meets with Israeli NGOs outside Egypt, 
meetings in Egypt would be "impossible." 
 
 
 
2. (C) Comment:  Almost all of Egyptian civil society maintains a 
negative attitude toward Israel, consistent with the public's anger 
at the Israeli occupation and military actions against Palestinians, and would rule out any contact with the Israeli Government.  XXXXXXXXXXXX's engagement with the Israeli Government 
is exceptional in this context, and the GOE is loath for any civil 
society activist -- particularly a member of the NDP -- to 
challenge the status quo.  End comment. 
 
 
 
3. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX - member of the influential NDP policies 
committee and editor of the GOE-funded Al-Ahram Center's journal 
"Democracy" - told us the Press Syndicate issued XXXXXXXXXXXXX an oral warning February 2 not to meet again with any Israeli, following 
her September 14 meeting with Israeli Ambassador Shalom Cohen. 
(Note:  Ambassador Cohen departed Cairo in late January.  End 
note.)  XXXXXXXXXXXXXsaid the syndicate also cautioned that she would face unspecified "consequences" if she meets again with Israelis. XXXXXXXXXXXX speculated that the syndicate gave her a light reprimand because the GOE did not want to face the political fallout and publicity she believes would have followed a more stringent 
decision.  XXXXXXXXXXXXX disputed the February 2 claim of a Press 
Syndicate disciplinary committee member on satellite television 
that a warning "sufficed" because XXXXXXXXXXXXX expressed regret over the meeting.  XXXXXXXXXXXXXX said she did not apologize to the syndicate, and maintains her "conviction" that it is her "right" to meet with the Israeli ambassador or any other Israeli.  XXXXXXXXXXXXX noted XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX will not meet with Israelis again in Al-Ahram Center office. 
 
 
 
4. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX met with the Israeli Ambassador September 14 in XXXXXXXXXXXXX office at the center to discuss an international conference on the peace process.  Following the meeting, there was a series of critical press articles for about three weeks, and on October 10 the Press Syndicate began investigative hearings on disciplining 
XXXXXXXXXXXX for violating its 1983 ban on contact with Israelis. 
Mustafa told us the Press Syndicate's 1983 ban is often breached, as journalists from pro-government "Al-Ahram" newspaper have interviewed several Israeli leaders since 1983 without consequences.  XXXXXXXXXXXX blamed the GOE for orchestrating a press campaign against XXXXXXXXXXXX, and for directing the Press Syndicate to 
begin hearings.  XXXXXXXXXXXXXX told us XXXXXXXXXXXXX did not expect political fallout from XXXXXXXXXXXXXX meeting, and that XXXXXXXXXXXXXX had frequently hosted Israeli officials in her office, but never the ambassador. 
 
 
5. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX noted that following XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX attendance at an August reception at the Israeli Ambassador's residence (we noticed was the only Egyptian guest there), a senior NDP official "close to President Mubarak" called  to ask about XXXXXXXXXXXX presence.  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX, who often courts public attention, said that once the controversy began, she wanted to "open up" the subject of contact with Israelis, and therefore appeared on numerous talk shows to defend her right to meet with Israeli officials. 
 
 
 
6. (C) NGO contacts expressed surprise at XXXXXXXXXXXX's decision to meet the Israeli Ambassador at the Al-Ahram Center.  Director XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX said that while he meets Israeli NGOs, such as B'tselem, outside of Egypt at UN or international conference venues, he believes the GOE would not welcome him meeting Israeli NGOs in Egypt.  He judged that the GOE would not accept him meeting with the Israeli Government.  A Cairo University professor who met with Israeli academics following the 1979 Camp David Accords until Israel's 1982 Lebanon invasion told us he follows the decision made by Egyptian universities to refuse meetings with Israeli academics until there is a Palestinian state.  "How can we meet with them while they are killing Palestinians?" he asked. 
 
 
 
7. (C) Also on February 2, the press syndicate suspended XXXXXXXXXXXXX for three months for violating the syndicate ban on contact with Israelis.  XXXXXXXXXXXXX said on satellite television February 2 that he had always received approval from the magazine's chief editor before visiting Israel.  According to XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX, XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX told her privately he had always coordinated his visits with "Egyptian security."  XXXXXXXXXXXXXX speculated the syndicate took more substantive action against the lower-profile XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX to balance its favorable  treatment of her. 
SCOBEY