As President Donald Trump moved last month to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, an Egyptian intelligence officer quietly placed phone calls to the hosts of several influential talk shows in Egypt.
Captain Ashraf al-Kholi secretly called a number of influential Egyptian television hosts and informed them of both Cairo's public and private stance on the controversial decision - which they were to convey to viewers.
Intel official Captain Ashraf al-Kholi had urged hosts to persuade viewers to accept Mr. Trump's decision, the Times said, citing taped conversations.
While Egypt would denounce the decision in public, Al-Khouly reportedly said that it is not in the interest of the state for relations with Israel to remain conflictual.
"The Times" report contains allegations regarding Egypt's position on the Jerusalem issue mentioned in the so-called "audio recordings.' It is inappropriate for The New York Times, a reputable newspaper, to publish such allegations", the SIS said.
Following the report, the Egyptian State Information Service said: "Egypt's positions on worldwide issues are not derived from alleged leaks from an anonymous source".
The statement added that Egypt has expressed "in word and dead" its position on the Jerusalem issue at the United Nations despite threats by the USA to cut off aid to countries that condemn its Jerusalem decision at the UN General Assembly.
Azmy Megahed, who was the fourth host on the list, denied to SIS knowing who Ashral el-Kholi is. "We have enough on our plate now".
On Saturday, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi met with Arab foreign ministers from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, the UAE and the Palestinian Authority as well as Arab League chief Ahmed Abul Gheit to discuss seeking worldwide recognition of eastern Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital.
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"The point that is risky for us is the intifada issue. Hamas would be reborn once more", Capt. Kholi explained. Later on, he said in press statements that he intends to file a complaint.
"An Intifada [uprising] would not serve Egypt's national security interests because an Intifada would revive the Islamists and Hamas", el-Kholi said.
He added, according to the Times, "At the end of the day, later on, Jerusalem won't be much different from Ramallah".
It also referred to an Egyptian-led resolution at the United Nations last month that rejected USA recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. "What matters is ending the suffering of the Palestinian people", Kholi concluded.
"There is a political decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and we will strive to reach an worldwide political decision to recognize a Palestinian state ... with (eastern) Jerusalem as its capital", Safadi said.
"I am friends with Ashraf and we talk all the time", the Times reported Megahed as saying in the interview.
The article claimed it is common practice for Egyptian intelligence officers to brief talk show hosts about what the state wants to be said or left unsaid in the mass media.
One of the phone calls was also to well-known Egyptian actor and singer, Yousra, who heeded his advice.