A great embarrassment for Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi

Analysis: Neither Israel nor Egypt trust the terror group Hamas;  Regarding the version of the hostage agreement presented to the Israelis versus the one given to Hamas, a senior Israeli official explained: 'They sell one version to Israel, a softer one to Hamas, then pass it to the Americans and pray to Allah it succeeds'

Smadar Perry|
Egyptian intelligence, led since 2018 by General Abbas Kamel, a close confidant and trusted aide of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has been caught in a compromising position. CIA Director William Burns, known for his usually calm demeanor, announced, "We were misled."
The blame is directed at senior Egyptian intelligence official General Ahmed Abdel Khalek, who allegedly presented one version of a Gaza hostage release and cease-fire to the Americans and Israelis while offering a softer, different version to Hamas leaders in Gaza and abroad.
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נשיא מצרים עבד אל-פתאח א-סיסי בפגישה בקהיר עם נשיא צרפת עמנואל מקרון
נשיא מצרים עבד אל-פתאח א-סיסי בפגישה בקהיר עם נשיא צרפת עמנואל מקרון
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi
(Photo: Christophe Ena/ AFP)
Israel is deliberately avoiding a direct response; why say what you have been thinking for months. In an interview with CNN that revealed the scandal, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu avoided commenting and did not reveal what he knows about Egyptian intelligence operations. After all, Cairo's intelligence chief, Abbas Kamel, enjoys a solid reputation. It is far easier and more convenient for Israel to have negotiations on the hostage deal take place in Cairo rather than in Doha. Egyptian intelligence views Hamas similarly to their Israeli counterparts. The assessment papers on the desks of Sisi and Netanyahu could look like carbon copies.
One of Netanyahu’s confidants, in an interview with Yedioth Ahronoth and Ynet on Tuesday, said based on his extensive experience with Egypt that "what CNN revealed showcases Middle Eastern conduct that Americans simply cannot understand." According to the Israeli official: "They sell one version to Israel, a softer version to Hamas, pass the first version to the Americans, and pray to Allah it works."
General Ahmed Abdel Khalek has been known in Israel since the days of Hamas hostage Gilad Shalit, when he played a junior role in securing the exchange deal. His picture first surfaced when the Israeli team led Shalit to the helicopter that brought him back to Israel. Since then, Abdel Khalek has served in the Palestinian department of Egyptian intelligence. In 2018, when Kamel was appointed head of Egyptian intelligence by Sisi, he dismissed the previous head of the Palestinian department, Sameh Nabil, who had failed to achieve reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas despite his efforts.
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עבאס כמאל
עבאס כמאל
General Abbas Kamel
The Egyptian intelligence code dictates that only the "chief," Abbas Kamel, is exposed to the media, and even then rarely. However, background briefings for senior journalists in Egypt and the United States are common practice. The editor of an Egyptian newspaper or a prominent American commentator might be invited for a briefing at the intelligence headquarters, receiving updates from Kamel or his deputy, Abdel Khalek. It is hinted that while they may not like the media, they have learned to use it to the advantage of Egyptian intelligence, which owns two daily newspapers in Cairo often privy to exclusive news.
The shock that gripped Bill Burns and senior officials in Washington far surpassed the surprise felt in Israel regarding Abdel Khalek’s actions. Israeli officials did not express everything they thought, nor were they taken aback. "It's part of the game," explained the seasoned Israeli official familiar with Egyptian intelligence.
It's important to note that Abbas Kamel's name has not been directly tied to the scandal. All parties are keen to maintain a close, professional and personal relationship with Kamel. There's no inquiry into whether he was aware or involved in the deception. Kamel will remain in his position, and neither the Americans nor Israel want to further antagonize Sisi.
Significantly, Qatar, Egypt's rival in mediation efforts, reacted spitefully to the revelation. Qatari Emir Sheik Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, aims to reclaim the role of mediator, despite Qatar’s recent threats to withdraw due to Netanyahu's attacks on the Qatari envoy and Doha's policies toward Israel.
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