GENEVA (Nov. 25)
An Egyptian business conference that was to have opened here today, was abruptly cancelled by Farouk al-Thebawi, the Egyptian businessman who promoted it, apparently because he did not have the backing of the Egyptian authorities he had claimed.
The gathering, known as “Congress Egypt ’80″ was described by Thebawi as Egypt’s answer to the Arab boycott of his country for its peace treaty with Israel. It was supposed to be attended by Knesset members, members of the Egyptian Parliament and Cabinet and by some 200 businessmen and investors from European countries, South Africa and the U.S. in addition to Israeli and Egyptian businessmen.
The project had the support of the Jewish community here and Nissim Goon, a Geneva-based millionaire who heads the World Federation of Sephardic Jews, was on the board of directors. But the enterprise began to sour several days ago when Goon informed the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that he was withdrawing from the “Congress.” He said his contacts in Egypt had warned him that Thebawi had no official backing in Cairo.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry, Bank Leumi and other Israeli institutions had intended to send delegates but were awaiting official confirmation of Egyptian participation. According to Thebawi, he sent his lawyer to Cairo to obtain confirmation but found out that all Egyptians involved had received official instructions not to go to Geneva.
La Tribune Geneve suggested today that the Egyptians backed away because they did not want to meet openly with Israelis in Geneva on the eve of the Arab summit meeting in Amman. It was unclear whether the “Congress” was aborted for political reasons or because the organizers were amateurs who handled it badly.