Longtime Mubarak advisor El-Baz dies at 83

Diplomatic aide Osama El-Baz developed close ties to Israeli officials, served as an instrumental member of Camp David peace talks.

September 15, 2013 09:34
1 minute read.
Osama El-Baz with then-premier Ariel Sharon in 2002

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 peaceful.”

Israeli politicians and diplomats knew that El-Baz was the contact for anyone wishing to deliver a message to Mubarak.

“Osama El-Baz 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.”

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