A new leaked audio recording hasshowed the Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry while coordinating with senior Israeli diplomat the transfer of the two Tiran and Sanafir islands to Saudi Arabia.
Mekameleen TV Channel, an Egyptian TV Channel known for being anti-military coup, has broadcasted a new leaked audio phone call between the Egyptian FM Sameh Shoukry and a high rank Israeli official where they discussed the details of giving away of the two Egyptian Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia.
Earlier this month, the Egyptian opposition channel broadcasted a series of leaked audio phone calls from Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, while discussing recent events with al-Sisi, including the bombing of the Coptic Church last December 2016, the meeting between Sameh Shoukry and US Vice President-elect Mike Pence later this month as well as other foreign issues.
In the new leaked audio, FM Shoukry was heard discussing on phone the Egyptian side’s negotiating position on the controversial maritime border agreement of Tiran and Sanafir, and asking for Israel’s support.
Shoukry was speaking with Yitzhak Molcho, high-ranking Israeli diplomat, a childhood friend and close adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Egypt’s FM was heard asking Molcho’s permission to amend a phrase regarding the deal.
Shoukry said, “Can I ask you to please…make one amendment…?” He added, “Can we change the term “a certain action” will not be considered a breach’ to ‘is not a breach’?”
However, it appeared as if Shoukry was faced with resistance from Molcho, Shoukry tried to explain himself, saying that “I know that it has the same meaning, but you are drafting the agreement for the future, whereas I am drafting for the present.” But, it wasn’t immediately obvious from the transcript what action would be considered in breach of the deal.
Shoukry also told Molcho,“I will agree to what you proposed ‘The ARE (Arab Republic of Egypt) will not agree to any amendment to the agreement without the prior, formal consent of the GOI (Government of Israel),’ OK?”
Shoukry and Molcho were mainly discussing the language surrounding two official letters that seemed to be exchanged between Egypt and Israel regarding Tiran and Sanafir islands.
In this context, FM Shoukry said, “concerning the agreement on the limitation of maritime borders signed by the ARE and the KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) on 8th April on the draft agreement regarding arrangements between the two governments concerning the mission of the multilateral forces and observing the status of Tiran and Sanafir.”
The Egyptian foreign minister was clear as to what his phone call with Molcho aimed to accomplish, “We are completing so as to finalize the issues that we can deal with, so that we can be in a position to implement as soon as the court process is over.”
Accordingly, the leaked audio was before the Egyptian High Administrative Court made final ruling as Shoukry was heard informing the Molcho that Cairo is still awaiting “the court’s verdict”.
He said,“So, there is a completion of the process from the trilateral perspective(Israel,Egypt and KSA) for you and us and they, and then as soon as the court proceeding is finished we will undertake the MFO agreement and sign it and then we will take the necessary other arrangements to convey to the MFO once we have signed that and it has entered into force.”
Shoukry said, “We’re agreed, and I will thereby tidy it up and convey it to you officially, is that OK? To make sure that we have the right two letters, you have the right letter and I have the right letter.”
Shoukry told Molcho, “You had asked on the fourth line to include the word ‘enduring,’ I am going to go ahead and accept that, OK?”
Later, FM Sameh Shoukry said, “Let me try again to accommodate you, you can I hope recognize how much I am trying.”
Moreover, Shoukry said, “When we were together we had discussed the termination of this paragraph.”
He added, “You were supposed to come back to me in accepting that formulation that we arrived at together… but you have added on an additional three lines that we did not discuss during our meeting and you did not propose.”
At the end, however, Shoukry said to Molcho, “I have a lot of issues to be honest with you but it’s late on a Thursday night and I think we both deserve some rest.”
In fact, the new leak is an explicit proof that Israel was involved step by step in the transfer of Tiran and Sanafir islands. In addition, it has also participated in discussing the terms of the agreement,its details as well as enclosing additional amendments.
The controversial agreement that gave away the two strategic islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia has led to massive criticism and outrage among the Egyptians. Critics, journalists, and activists accused Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of “selling Egypt” to Saudi Arabia in return for financial aid.
In response, thousands of Egyptians took to the streets in protests on April 15 (Land Day) and April 25 (Sinai Liberation Day) against the agreement, calling for the “Downfall of the Regime.”
The demonstrations were the first huge movement against the al-Sisi regime that included different political affiliations and groups.
The Egyptian security forces led arrest campaigns of activists and journalists who opposed the transfer of the islands.
Egypt’s courts have fined tens of the protesters while others were handed down prison sentences that ranged from two to five years.
In addition, a court sentenced seven defendants to eight years in prison each and fined them.
The Egyptian government has repeatedly said that the islands have always belonged to Saudi Arabia and that Egypt was merely administering them on behalf of the Saudis since the 1950s.
In the same context, al-Sisi defended the agreement in a televised speech in April, saying that “Egypt does not sell its land to anyone and it does not take anyone’s land.”
However, Egypt’s High Administrative Court rejected an appeal by the government against a lower court’s decision to stop it handing over Tiran and Sanafir on January 16, 2017.
In fact, this is not the first time that Mekameleen broadcasts audio leaks for Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi and his officials .
Previous leaks were examined and authenticated by the leading British laboratory of forensic speech and acoustic analysis, JP French Associates, which is headed by Peter French, professor of forensic speech science at the University of York. The laboratory provides forensic voice analysis to the British courts, as well as advice and training to international law-enforcement agencies.
The previous leaks for General Abbas Kamel Abbas, al-Sisi’s chief aid and office manager of staff, were broadcast 18 months ago and revealed the Emirati interference in Egypt and how Abdel Fattah al-Sisi controls the domestic media outlets.