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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.

Captain Ashraf al-Kholi secretly called a number of influential Egyptian television hosts and informed them of both Cairo's public and private stance on the controversial decision - which they were to convey to viewers. The Times article said that according to tapes of conversations between Kholi and four different hosts, the officer suggested that Palestinians should be content with Ramallah rather than east Jerusalem.

"Moreover, Mrs. Yousra has denied knowing someone by the name Ashraf El-Kholi or that she discussed with anyone the issue of Jerusalem... adding that she was not present in Egypt during the period specified in the report", the press release said.

Capt. Kholi reportedly asked the hosts in a series of telephone calls he made to them, which were obtained by The New York Times.

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

In a statement, the Egyptian government said it was "inappropriate for the New York Times, a reputable newspaper, to publish such allegations". "All the entities in charge have expressed in word and deed the inalienable position on Jerusalem in the U.N. and other global organizations with disregard for the threats of the U.S.to cut aid to countries including Egypt over the U.N. Jerusalem vote". "We have enough on our plate".

"An Intifada [uprising] would not serve Egypt's national security interests because an Intifada would revive the Islamists and Hamas", el-Kholi said.

Captain Kholi, on tape, echoed exactly this sentiment, telling the talk show hosts, "The point that is unsafe for us is the intifada issue..."


He added, according to the Times, "At the end of the day, later on, Jerusalem won't be much different from Ramallah".

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

"The Times' report claims that Captain Ashraf al-Kholi is an officer with the Egyptian General Intelligence without presenting its readers with the slightest evidence as to the truth of this piece of information or that a person by this name exists in the first place", the statement said.

"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.

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.

The SIS said that the people mentioned in the article were incorrectly labeled "the hosts of several influential talk shows in Egypt".

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


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