Science, Culture and Sport Minister Ofir Paz-Pines paid tribute to Egyptian writer Naguib Mahfouz last week in a letter sent to the Egyptian government. Mahfouz, the 1988 Nobel prize winner in literature, died Wednesday in a Cairo hospital, a year after releasing his final collection of short stories.
In a statement released to the Israeli media, Paz-Pines praised Mahfouz for his political moderation and support of Egypt's 1979 peace treaty with Israel. The writer, perhaps most famous outside Egypt for The Cairo Trilogy, was widely known - and harshly criticized - within the Arab world for his relatively liberal writings and support of the historic Camp David peace deal.
In his press statement, Paz-Pines described Mahfouz as "one of the most important Arab writers of our time, and among the most important in the world. In addition to his writings, Mahfouz will be remembered as someone who supported [the peace agreement] with great courage ... He never flinched, despite the heavy price he was forced to pay."