Zvi Mazel, Israel’s former ambassador to Egypt, said Thursday that the end of the regime of former President Hosni Mubarak, does not necessarily mean the beginning of a new era in Egypt.
Mazel, who spoke to Arutz Sheva’s Hebrew-language news service following the beginning of Mubarak’s trial, said that Mubarak “kept the peace with Israel.”
“He may have sinned by being corrupt, but to finish his career like this is very difficult to watch,” Mazel said.
Despite Mubarak’s corruption, Mazel said that he believes the former Egyptian President was the sanest leader in the region.
“In truth, he was only a ‘mild’ dictator,” Mazel said. “What really stopped the industrial development in Egypt was not Mubrak, but rather the Islam which prevents economic development and prefers the establishment of a tribal society that prevents development.”
He added, “To think that now everything will be better in Egypt is not serious and there is much hypocrisy in this way of thinking. Mubarak’s trial is a negative milestone and it won’t bring about a good change. We can expect a period of instability that could also affect Israel.”
Mazel said he was sorry for the humiliating way Mubarak was brought to trial.
“Putting people in a cage [is humiliating],” he said. “Even though the Egyptians traditionally behave this way, no one else in the world does this today. I wondered why the international media did not say anything about it. They (the Egyptians) may want to show the angry crowd that they’ve caught him, but Mubarak is not Saddam, not Qaddafi, and not Assad and he is the one who is paying the price.”
Mazel added that “Mubarak never executed people, not even his political opponents. His one problem is that he is being accused of firing at the protesters, but he’s certainly far from being Saddam Hussein.”
As the trial began on Wednesday, Mubarak was shown as he arrived in court on a stretcher after being flown from a hospital to face a possible death sentence.
Mubarak ruled Egypt with an iron hand for three decades, allegedly raking in billions of dollars for his and his family’s vaults. He is now facing, along with his two sons, charges of murder, theft and bribery.
Former Israeli Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, who frequently dealt with Mubarak, revealed on Wednesday he offered the deposed leader asylum in Eilat.
According to Ben-Eliezer, Mubarak turned down the offer “because he was patriot” and refused to consider leaving the country, stating, “I will die in Egypt.”
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles is Israeli time.)