Incoming ambassadors from Egypt and Jordan presented their credentials to President Shimon Peres on Wednesday, both of them affirming their governments’ desires to maintain their respective peace treaties with Israel and to further peace in the Middle East.The Arab world reacted to the news of this flowery letter with utter disbelief.
“I came with the message of peace and I came to confirm that we are really working for mutual trust and transparency,” Ambassador Atef Salem of Egypt told Peres at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem. “We are committed to all the agreements we signed with Israel and we’re also committed to the peace treaty with Israel.”
During a solemn ceremony, Salem, the new Egyptian ambassador in Tel Aviv, handed Peres his letter of credence — a diplomatic missive in which one head of state asks his or her counterpart to accept the bearer as new ambassador.
“Great and good friend,” Egypt’s Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, wrote in the letter to his Israeli counterpart, “being desirous of maintaining and strengthening the cordial relations which so happily exist between our two countries, I have selected Mr. Atef Mohamed Salem Sayed El Ahl to be our ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary.” Morsi closed his letter, which largely followed standard diplomatic language for the exchange of ambassadors, by expressing “highest esteem and consideration.”
Egyptian media quoted leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood as denying the authenticity of the letter:
Leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood launched a strong attack against the Israeli press, and accused them of lying in reporting on a message by President Morsi to Israeli President Shimon Peres, published by a number of Israeli newspapers, in the framework of the ceremony of sending an Egyptian ambassador to Israel. Dr. Abdul Khaliq al-Sharif, Muslim Brotherhood official, said that God describes Jews as lying and fading. Sharif added, in a special statement for Youm7, "since when were Jews honest? How can we believe them when they are described by God, who created them, as lying."However, a spokesman for Morsi's office verified the letter's authenticity to Egyptian media:
He said that the Israeli Prime Minister complained frequently that the Egyptian President does not mention the name of Israel in his speeches. and added, "It may be what happened was a trick of Israelis.
A spokesman for Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi confirmed on Thursday that the president had sent a letter to Israeli counterpart Shimon Peres calling him a good friend.(h/t Ian, Lachian)
The letter, presented to Peres by incoming ambassador Atef Salem on Wednesday, sparked an outcry in Egypt for marking a new level of normalization, with one Muslim Brotherhood official calling it a “fabrication.”
But Morsi spokesman Yassir Ali told Egyptian state-run newspaper Ahram that the letter was “100 percent correct.”