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Egypt in Uproar Over Five Minute Interview With Israeli

A quick interview with an Israeli reporter on a problem affecting both countries has led to calls for a ministerial shakeup in Egypt
By David Lev
First Publish: 8/9/2012, 2:29 PM

Israel Broadcasting Authority headquarters
Israel Broadcasting Authority headquarters
Flash90

Egypt was in an uproar Thursday, with Egyptians and officials demanding that the country's communications minister resign his post, after an Israeli reporter was interviewed on Egypt's Nile TV. The reporter, from Israel Radio's Arabic service, was discussing the problem of Sinai terrorism, a problem common to Israel and Egypt.

According to reports in the Egyptian media Thursday, the Israeli reporter, Ayal Alima, spoke to the host of a news magazine program on Nile TV, and called on both the IDF and Egyptian army to derive lessons from the attack in Sinai earlier with week, in which 17 Egyptian soldiers were killed. Alima called on both armies to increase their cooperation to ensure order and safety in Sinai.

Alima, speaking by phone from Israel, appeared on the program for only a few minutes, but that was enough to set off a media firestorm in Egypt. Callers into media talk shows and comments on internet forums were almost solidly against the interview, with commenters expressing rage that an Israeli could appear in Egyptian media, an event that, the commenters said, would never have happened even in the ostensibly secular government of former President Hosni Mubarak.

Several organizations dedicated to battling normalization of relations with Israel said that the interview violated numerous pacts and agreements, which prohibit Israeli voices from being broadcast in Egyptian media, no matter what the topic or how short the discussion was.

Calls have gone out demanding the resignation of Communications Minister Salah Abed al-Maqsoud, claiming that the interview was the result of a “failure” on his part. In response, al-Maqsoud said that he would investigate the issue thoroughly to discover how such a “major mistake” could have occurred, Egyptian media quoted him as saying. In addition, he told reporters, he was reissuing orders to all Egyptian media outlets prohibiting interviews with Israelis on Egyptian radio and television systems, public and private.