Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak
Photo: Avigail Uzi

Egyptian culture minister: I would burn Israeli books myself

Israel files official complaint with Egypt over Farouk Hosni's remarks, may thwart his appointment as UNESCO secretary-general

Diplomatic tensions have arised between Israel and Egypt due to a harsh statement made recently by Egyptian Culture Minister Farouk Hosni. In a conference that took place in the Egyptian Parliament last week, the minister said that he “would burn Israeli books himself if found in Egyptian libraries.”


Israeli Ambassador to Cairo Shalom Cohen defined this statement in a classified report that he submitted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem as “harsh and especially blunt, in a way which makes it impossible for Israel and for the international community to continue a regular agenda with Egypt.”


Yedioth Ahronoth was informed that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs received and accepted the Israeli ambassador’s suggestion to present a severe protest to the Egyptian government. Simultaneously, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs passed on a severe protest to the Egyptian ambassador in Israel.


On Sunday, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is scheduled to leave for Sharm al-Sheikh in order to participate in a summit with US President George W. Bush, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Jordan's King Abdullah and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. She is likely to raise the issue in her discussions with the Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit.


The anger in Israel over Hosni’s statement is especially emphasized due to the fact that the Hosni is Egypt’s candidate for the UNESCO position, as the United Nations’ education, science and cultural organization secretary-general, and he has good chances of being chosen.


Israel is weighing the option of bringing the case to the attention of the international community and thus harming his chances of receiving the position.


Hosni is considered one of the strongest opposition leaders in the Egyptian government to stand against normalization with Israel. In the past, he accused Israel of trying to steal Egyptian culture, and he adamantly opposes any cooperation with Israel.


Moreover, he opposed an initiative presented by the American-Jewish Committee to establish a museum of Jewish antiquity and culture in Cairo.


פרסום ראשון: 05.14.08, 14:25
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