Osama El-Baz with then-premier Ariel Sharon in 2002 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Osama El-Baz, veteran diplomatic adviser to former Egyptian presidents Anwar
Sadat and Hosni Mubarak who for years served as the latter’s emissary in his
contacts with Israel, died on Saturday. He was 83.
El-Baz became known to
Israeli officials as a member of Sadat’s negotiating team during the Camp David
peace talks in the late 1970s. He was later retrained as a top aide to Sadat’s
successor, Mubarak. Israeli officials recalled that El-Baz was more acquainted
with Israeli politics than were many Israelis, despite the fact that he had
never set foot in the country.
“He believed in the strategic aspect of
Israeli-Egyptian cooperation,” Yossi Beilin, a former deputy foreign minister
and one of the architects of the Oslo Accords, told Army Radio. “He envisioned a
possibility of Israeli-Palestinian- Egyptian-Jordanian cooperation, an axis of
peace in the Middle East in a Middle East that is not really
Israeli politicians and diplomats knew that El-Baz was the
contact for anyone wishing to deliver a message to Mubarak.
was a very special man,” Beilin said. “He had a very unique personal demeanor
and he was also extremely up to date on what was taking place in the region. But
he is not the only one. In the Egyptian leadership today as well as in the
defense, intelligence and diplomatic communities, there are those who are
intimately familiar with the history of relations between the two countries and
the development of the diplomatic process between them.”