Egypt vice president had good ties with Israel: cable

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LONDON: Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman had good ties with Israel’s military and the Jewish state would have been happy to see him lead the country, US diplomatic cables seen by the Telegraph newspaper said Monday.

In a 2008 US diplomatic memo, leaked to the British newspaper by WikiLeaks, David Hacham, an adviser at the Israeli Ministry of Defense (MoD), told US officials the Israelis expected Suleiman to take over.

“Hacham was full of praise for Suleiman, however, and noted that a ‘hot line’ set up between the MoD and Egyptian General Intelligence Service is now in daily use,” the cable sent from the US embassy in Tel Aviv said.

“Hacham noted that the Israelis believe Suleiman is likely to serve as at least an interim president if Mubarak dies or is incapacitated.

“We defer to Embassy Cairo for analysis of Egyptian succession scenarios, but there is no question that Israel is most comfortable with the prospect of Omar Suleiman,” the August 2008 memo cited US diplomats as saying.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Saturday backed Suleiman as the best candidate to lead a “transition” government as the embattled Mubarak continues to cling to power.

The document also disclosed that Suleiman explored the idea of allowing Israeli troops into the Egyptian border area of Philadelphi in a bid to stop arms being smuggled to Palestinian militants in Gaza.

“In their moments of greatest frustration, (Egypt Defense Minister) Tantawi and Suleiman each have claimed that the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) would be ‘welcome’ to re-invade Philadelphi, if the IDF thought that would stop the smuggling,” the cable said.

The memo later revealed that Suleiman wanted Gaza to “go hungry but not starve” and for Hamas to be “isolated.”

Elsewhere, the in the cable, Hacham is quoted as being “shocked” by Mubarak’s “aged appearance and slurred speech.”



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