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CBS rejects request to pull pro-Israel interview with Egyptian leader

In a “60 Minutes” interview, Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi says cooperation between Cairo and Jerusalem is closer than ever.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in New York, Sept. 26, 2018. Photo by Avi Ohayon/GPO.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in New York, Sept. 26, 2018. Photo by Avi Ohayon/GPO.

CBS News has rejected a request from the Egyptian government to pull an interview with the country’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.

Although the network declined to say what exactly drew opposition from Cairo, the government is believed to be concerned by El-Sisi’s comments on Israel.

Asked in the interview with the “60 Minutes” program whether cooperation between Egypt and Israel was the closest it had ever been, El-Sisi responded, “That is correct. … We have a wide range of cooperation with the Israelis.”

Egypt has been fighting an insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula for several years, battling an estimated 1,000 Islamic State-affiliated terrorists that Cairo has allowed the Israelis to attack by air.

In February, Egypt launched “Comprehensive Operation Sinai 2018” in an effort to rid the peninsula of terrorists.

In recent years, Israel has allowed the Egyptian military to boost its presence in the peninsula several times as part of the country’s war on terror.

Other than on security issues, Israel and Egypt maintain close diplomatic ties, as Egypt is the chief mediator between Israel and Hamas, the terrorist group that controls the Gaza Strip.

The interview, which was recorded when El-Sisi was in New York to attend a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly in late September, was set to air on Sunday evening.

El-Sisi was also asked about reports from various human rights organizations that the Egyptian regime was holding some 60,000 political prisoners.

“I don’t know where they got that figure. I said there are no political prisoners in Egypt. Whenever there is a minority trying to impose their extremist ideology, we have to intervene, regardless of their numbers.”

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