Cairo is upset over reports on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's poor health, and is placing the blame with Israel.
In an editorial published in state-run al-Gumhuriyya newspaper, piercing criticism was leveled at the Israeli media's coverage of Mubarak's medical condition. "There has never been an Egyptian president as honest with his people about his medical condition as President Mubarak, but the rumors and the lies continue to haunt him," the article said.
Recent months have seen more and more reports about the Egyptian president's health. In March, Mubarak was hospitalized at the Heidelberg hospital in Germany, where he underwent gallbladder surgery.
Another wave of rumors spread last week after Lebanese paper as-Safir reported the president took off for another round of treatment in Germany. Concern for his condition grew after Mubarak postponed his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu twice. Earlier this week, the Washington Post reported that western sources believe Mubarak has terminal cancer and will be dead within a year.
The al-Gumhuriyya editorial stressed that the treatment of the president's medical condition is different than it was during the reign of former President Gamal Abdel Nasser.
"Mubarak gave a different impression with his rise to power. His is an excellent sportsman. He used to play squash until not so long ago, and even played hockey in his youth. Before he left for the last operation in Germany, he would even take to the sports courts on a daily basis after his official meetings."
'Israel evading commitments'According to the article, Israel is to blame for spreading rumors of Mubarak's deteriorating health. "Why have we begun following publications in news agencies and newspapers that give reports from Israel and who have firm ties with it? Israel is seeking to evade its commitment to peace and a political agreement."
Referring to the letter Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef sent to Mubarak wishing him good health, the editorial said, "First (Israel) says it is only interested in wishing President Mubarak good health, and then it spreads reports that the president secretly traveled to Germany or France for tests."
The author expressed outrage that "Israel forgot that the Presidential Palace published a statement before Mubarak traveled to Germany the last time, and after the benign tumor was removed, the German doctors also reported this."
The motive behind the "Israeli lies", the author said, is clear: "Mubarak is one of the most stable forces in the region, but this does not justify allowing the media to act like 'doctors' who analyze the president's good medical condition and draw their own conclusions."
According to the author, the Israeli and Western assessments on Mubarak's health are based on unknown sources or intelligence officers who refused to reveal their identities. "The Israei and Western media's goal is known, but why does Egypt follow them?" he wondered.
Arab media have been reporting on the president's deteriorating health for several years now, and such reports have sparked arguments over who will inherit the presidential chair, with his son Gamal believed to be the most likely successor. However, the president has not confirmed these speculations. This year Mubarak is slated to compete his fifth year in his sixth term as president, and has yet to announce plans to run for the 2011 elections.
- Follow Ynetnews on Facebook