Egyptian deputy PM: Israel fueling sectarian strife

Ben-Eliezer calls Egyptian security forces inexperienced in Grapel arrest, says Egypt wanted to show insistence on national security.

Tahrir is packed (R) 311 (photo credit: Reuters)
Tahrir is packed (R) 311
(photo credit: Reuters)
Egyptian Deputy Prime Minister Yahya el-Gamal accused Israel Monday of inciting sectarian strife in Egypt, saying that American and Israeli intelligence agencies do "not want to leave Egypt on its own."
Speaking to Lebanese newspaper Champress, the Egyptian deputy prime minister also said that the US is beginning to feel that Israel has become a burden preventing the US from normalizing relations in "a very important region."
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Gamal said that the Egyptian people are not inclined to extremism, and that the average Egyptian today has negative attitudes towards fanaticism. The Egyptian deputy prime minister's comments come a day after the arrest of an alleged Mossad agent in Cairo. Dual US-Israeli citizen Ilan Grapel is being held under suspicions that he was an Israeli spy seeking to disrupt the sensitive Egyptian economic and political fabric.
One judiciary source said that Grapel, a US citizen, former IDF soldier, and one-time Israeli Supreme Court intern, "was [in Cairo's Tahrir Square] on a daily basis inciting youths towards sectarian strife. He was distributing money to some of them."
Former defense minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer (Labor) criticized the Egyptian security forces over the operation, calling them inexperienced in their arrest of Grapel.
Speaking to Israel Radio, Ben-Eliezer said that the ordeal was the government's attempt to show the Egyptian people their insistence on national security.
The former defense minister said he hoped that the arrest did not signal a new trend in Israel-Egypt relations as the government there attempts to garner support from different elements in their country. Moves such as facilitating  the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation deal and opening the Rafah border were seen by Israel as the Egyptian government's attempt to appeal to widespread Egyptian sympathy on the Palestinian issue.