Authenticity of a Morsi 'friendly letter' to Israel's President questioned

Ahram Online , Thursday 18 Oct 2012

President Morsi's alleged letter to Israeli President Peres upon appointment of Egypt's new ambassador to Tel Aviv stirs controversy over its authenticity and 'cordial' tone

Israel's President Shimon Peres (Photo:Reuters)

A friendly letter reportedly sent by President Mohamed Morsi to Israeli President Shimon Peres on Wednesday has triggered off much controversy over the accuracy of the letter.

Ahram's Arabic-language news website published the text of the alleged letter on Wednesday after The Times of Israel - an online Israeli publication - ran a story with a photo-copy image of a letter from Egypt's president to his Israeli counterpart earlier in the day. 

The published document, whose authenticity has yet to be proved and dated 19 July, was reportedly handed to Peres by the newly-appointed Egyptian ambassador in Tel Aviv, Atef Salem, at an official ceremony in the presidential residence.

Some observers argue that Morsi's cordial wording and recognition of Israel in the 'letter' is at complete variance with his public actions, as all of Morsi's speeches fall short of mentioning Israel, including international ones, since he took office.

Muslim Brotherhood leader Gamal Muhammad Heshmat told Al-Ahram Arabic-language news website on Thursday, "Israeli newspapers have gotten accustomed to fabricating and incorrectly quoting President Morsi's speeches since his election."

“Great and good friend,” is how Morsi allegedly addressed his Israeli counterpart in the letter, according to The Times of Israel.

“Being desirous of maintaining and strengthening the cordial relations which so happily exist between our two countries, I have selected Mr. Atef Mohamed Salem Sayed El Ahl to be our ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary,” read the letter. Morsi closed his letter by expressing “highest esteem and consideration.”

"The letter is not specially worded for Israel. There is a template for such letters that is not amended with the change of officials, administrations or the country to which the letter is sent," former assistant to Foreign Minister Hani Khalaf told Ahram Arabic news website.

"As it is all routine procedures, the letter might come out of foreign ministry to the general Bureau without the president checking it," added Khalaf.

He contended that the letter's tone is not supposed to suggest any alteration to the Egypt-Israel ties.

On Thursday, Egypt's Presidential Office asked the Foreign Ministry for further clarification on the authenticity of the letter, according to Anadoul Agency.
The agency also quoted a president advisor as saying the letter published by the Israeli news agency is "95% fabricated."

Vacant since August 2011, the post of Egyptian ambassador to Israel was recalled from Israel in protest against the border deaths of five Egyptian police officers who were reportedly killed during a terrorist infiltration from the Sinai region. 

Short link: