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Egypt bans editors from publishing Al-Azhar’s view on US ‘peace plan’

Palestinians protest against US President Donald Trump’s so-called Middle East peace plan on 1 February 2020 [Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency]
Palestinians protest against US President Donald Trump’s so-called Middle East peace plan on 1 February 2020 [Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency]

Egyptian authorities have informed newspaper editors that they must refer to the US proposal to bring peace to the Middle East, dubbed the “deal of the century” as a “peace plan” and not to carry Al-Azhar’s comments about the plan.

Using a Whatsapp group through which authorities direct the content of media reports, the message stated that the shift of expression was because deal of the century was seen as an American-driven project to secure Israel’s interests.

The instructions told editors not to address or focus on religious or national elements of the plan or to ask Al-Azhar  – a prestigious university in the Egyptian capital Cairo and the largest religious institution in the Islamic world – for its view on the matter.

It also asked journalists to emphasise the historical and pivotal role of Egypt on the Palestinian issue.

READ: Erekat slams US Kushner’s claims Palestinians unable to make peace

On Saturday, hundreds of activists rallied to demonstrate against Trump’s so-called deal in front of the US embassy in London and across the UK.

Last Tuesday, US President Donald Trump announced his plan to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the White House, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by his side. There were no Palestinians officials present.

During the announcement Trump referred to Jerusalem as Israel’s “undivided capital”.

Deal of the century, embassy relocation, and the Golan Heights - Israel surely can't believe their luck? - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Deal of the century, embassy relocation, and the Golan Heights – Israel surely can’t believe their luck? – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

This comes during what has been described as the golden age of Israeli-Egyptian relations, with a $15 billion gas deal between them and a joint air campaign in the Sinai Peninsula.

At the same time the Egyptian government has locked horns with the Palestinian government after Mahmoud Abbas objected to Cairo’s participation in last year’s workshop in Manama where the economic component of the deal of the century was unveiled.

READ: Will the ‘deal of the century’ be implemented?

According to documents released by the White House, the economic aspect of the deal of the century will grant $9 billion to Egypt, including $1.5 billion so Egypt can become a regional natural gas hub and $2 billion to the Sinai Development Project.

The Egyptian regime has targeted citizens vocal about their opposition to the deal of the century and Palestinian human rights, imprisoning Ramy Shaath, co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in Egypt, and son of Abbas’ adviser for foreign affairs, Nabil Shaath.

One of Ramy’s colleague’s, Mohamed El-Massry, a member of the boycott movement was also arrested and interrogated about BDS.

In November a football fan was arrested for raising the Palestinian flag during a match at Cairo International Stadium.

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