Jerusalem (Jan. 6)
– A series of articles dealing with internal political developments in Egypt is believed to be the reason why the Egyptian government issued orders last night barring the author, Jerusalem Post Middle East affairs editor Anan Safadi, from returning to Egypt. Safadi, who spent six days in Cairo last week, began the series with an article referring to reports of a power struggle between Vice President Hosni Mubarak and close associates of President Anwar Sadat.
The story appeared yesterday jointly in the English-language Post and the Hebrew daily, Al Hamishmar. The Egyptian authorities denounced it as “false reports and lies.” Safadi told reporters here today that he stood by his account and that it was based on information from reliable sources. The Post expressed “surprise” at the ban, noting that the paper had good relations with the Egyptian authorities throughout the peace process.
It was not clear whether the ban was against Safadi or all Post correspondents or whether it would affect the sale of the Post on Cairo newsstands. Several hundred copies of the newspaper are sold daily in Egypt. The sale of the Post was in fact the first commercial deal transacted between an Israeli and an Egyptian company.
The second article of Safadi’s series, published today, posed the question, “What would an Egyptian administration controlled by Hosni Mubarak look like?” The writer said Mubarak would not renege on the peace treaty with Israel but probably would cut back on normalization until a solution to the Palestinian problem was found. In yesterday’s story, Safadi predicted imminent changes in the Egyptian government that might include the removal of Foreign Minister Kamal Hassan Ali and his replacement by Ashraf Ghorbal, the Egyptian Ambassador to Washington.
EGYPT CRITICIZED FOR BAN
Commenting on the Egyptian ban, Premier Menachem Begin’s press spokesman, Dan Pattir, said today that Israel “could not tolerate this kind of discrimination” against an Israeli newspaper. He said the Egyptian authorities had the right to rebut or refute the Post story and even to brand it false, but there was a vast difference between such a reaction and the decision to bar Jerusalem Post correspondents from the country.
It is expected here that Israel’s Ambassador in Cairo, Eliahu Ben-Elissar, will eventually succeed in having the ban lifted. The Israeli envoy was summoned by the Egyptian Minister of Information. Mansour Hassan today, who delivered a stern protest over the Post story. According to reports from Cairo, Ben-Elissar defended the newspaper’s right to freedom of expression.