The Times claimed to be in possession of audio recordings in which Egyptian intelligence officer Capt. Ashraf al-Kholi is heard telling popular talk show hosts that trouble with Israel was not in Egypt's interest and they should tell their viewers to accept Trump's decision. "We have enough on our plate as you know", al-Kholi allegedly said regarding the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The recordings were provided to the New York Times by an intermediary supportive of the Palestinian cause and opposed to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. But Pence's trip to the Middle East, his first as vice president, will be carefully watched following Trump's decision on Israel's capital, which prompted Palestinian leaders to cancel planned meetings with the vice president.
Following the report, the Egyptian State Information Service said: "Egypt's positions on global issues are not derived from alleged leaks from an anonymous source".
Trump's December declaration of Jerusalem as Israel's capital and his promise to move the USA embassy there sparked violence in the Muslim world.
But the State Information Service said that Megahed was the only one of the four actively working as a television host and that he denied any knowledge of a man named Ashraf al-Kholi. "What matters is ending the suffering of the Palestinian people", Kholi concluded. "Hamas would be reborn once more".
In all four audio recordings obtained by the NYT, so-called officer Ashraf el-Kholi said, "How is Jerusalem different from Ramallah, really?"More news: Packers to hire Brian Gutekunst as GM
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In response to Trump's move, Egypt publicly said the decision was a violation of global resolutions on the city's status.
Before Trump's announcement, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had planned to meet with Pence in the biblical town of Bethlehem but pulled out of the meeting in protest.
When making his announcement, Trump added the caveat that Jerusalem's status would be determined in negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel.
In his December 6 address from the White House, Trump defied worldwide warnings and insisted that after repeated failures to achieve peace, a new approach was long overdue, describing his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital as merely based on reality. On Saturday its foreign minister, Sameh Shukri, participated in an Arab meeting to underscore support for east Jerusalem being the Palestinian capital. Trump stressed that he was not specifying the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in the city, and called for no change in the status quo at the city's holy sites.