Egypt official says leaders letter to Israel is a fake

A letter to Israel from Egypt’s new president hoping for regional peace kicked up a stir July 31 when the Egyptian leader’s Islamist movement denied he sent it. Israel insisted the letter was genuine.

The letter, ostensibly sent by Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, was a response to an earlier message from Israeli President Shimon Peres, conveying Israel’s good wishes for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The return letter, released by the Israeli president’s office, was on the stationery of the Egyptian Embassy in Tel Aviv.

In it, Morsi appeared to write in English, “I am looking forward to exerting our best efforts to get the Middle east Peace Process back to its right track in order to achieve security and stability for all peoples of the region, including that Israeli people.” The Israeli president’s name was spelled “Perez.”

A spokesman for Morsi, Yasser Ali, said in Cairo that Morsi had not written a letter to the Israeli president at all.

“This is totally untrue,” Ali said, calling the letter a “fabrication.” He blamed two Israeli newspapers for manufacturing the letter, though it was released by the president’s office in Jerusalem.

An official in Peres’ office said the president’s aides received the official communiqué July 31 from the Egyptian ambassador to Israel, both by registered mail and by fax from the embassy in Tel Aviv.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry did not provide an immediate response on the issue.

The Ramadan message was Peres’ second letter to Morsi since he took office after winning Egypt’s first-ever free presidential election. — ap