US embassy cable - 86ALEXANDRIA1240

ISRAELI ACTIVITIES IN ALEXANDRIA AND THE DELTA

Identifier: 86ALEXANDRIA1240
Wikileaks: View 86ALEXANDRIA1240 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Consulate Alexandria
Created: 1986-11-05 13:15:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PGOV PINR PREL IS EG
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
R 051315Z NOV 86
FM AMCONSUL ALEXANDRIA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 6249
INFO AMEMBASSY CAIRO
AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 ALEXANDRIA 01240 
 
E.O. 12356: DECL:OADR 
TAGS: PGOV, PINR, PREL, IS, EG 
SUBJECT:  ISRAELI ACTIVITIES IN ALEXANDRIA AND THE DELTA 
 
REF:  ALEXANDRIA 805 
 
1.  (CONFIDENTIAL-ENTIRE TEXT.) 
- 
2.  SUMMARY:  ISRAELI CONSUL GENERAL WAS PLEASED WITH 
RESULTS OF HIS AMBASSADOR'S RECENT (AND, SURPRISINGLY, 
HIS FIRST) "OFFICIAL" VISIT TO ALEXANDRIA.  IN WAKE 
OF SEPTEMBER SUMMIT, INCREASED INTEREST IN TOURISM WAS 
EXPRESSED, BUT LOCAL ISRAELIS DO NOT EXPECT ANY 
SIGNIFICANT CHANGE.  ZIM LINES IS DOING ADEQUATE 
BUSINESS WITH ALEXANDRIA'S PORT, DESPITE TRADE 
SLOWDOWN GENERALLY.  SMALL ISRAELI AGRICULTURAL 
ACTIVITY CONTINUES IN DELTA, RECENTLY EXPANDED BY 
NEW, GOVERNMENT-TO-GOVERNMENT JOINT VENTURE NEAR 
GIANCLIS.  ISRAELI CONGEN IS MUM ABOUT RUMORS HE 
WILL BE REPLACED EARLY NEXT YEAR.  END SUMMARY. 
 
 
SASSON'S "OFFICIAL" VISIT TO ALEXANDRIA: 
---------------------------------------- 
3.  AT AN OCTOBER 28 MEETING, ISRAELI CONGEN TUVAL 
AND I SHARED PERPSECTIVES ON RECENT VISITS BY OUR 
RESPECTIVE AMBASSADORS TO ALEXANDRIA.  AFTER 
DESCRIBING THE RANGE OF ACTIVITIES ENGAGED IN BY 
AMBASSADOR AND MRS. WISNER AND THE ENTHUSIASTIC 
RECEPTION THEY RECEIVED, I ASKED TUVAL HOW SASSON'S 
OWN OCTOBER 16 VISIT HAD GONE. 
 
4.  TO MY ASTONISHMENT, TUVAL SAID THIS WAS SASSON'S 
FIRST "OFFICIAL" VISIT TO ALEXANDRIA IN THE OVER 
FIVE YEARS HE HAS BEEN ISRAEL'S AMBASSADOR TO CAIRO. 
HE SAID SASSON HAD VISITED THE CITY IN CONNECTION 
WITH BILATERAL MEETINGS WITH THE PRESIDENT AND 
FOREIGN MINISTER, OR TO ACCOMPANY DELEGATIONS. 
HOWEVER, HE HAD NEVER CALLED ON THE GOVERNOR OR MET 
WITH ALEXANDRIAN PERSONALITIES.  IN ANY EVENT, BOTH 
HE AND SASSON WERE PLEASED WITH THE VISIT. 
 
5.  TUVAL SAID THE MEETING WITH GOVERNOR GAWSAQI 
HAD GONE WELL.  I PROBED HIM A LITTLE ON THIS 
POINT, AND HE ADDED THAT THE GOVERNOR WAS FRIENDLY, 
EVINCED SUPPORT FOR GOOD EGYPTIAN-ISRAELI RELATIONS, 
AND BASICALLY RESPONDED "INSHALLAH" (GOD WILLING) TO 
THE ISRAELIS' EXPRESSIONS OF INTEREST IN EXPANDED 
TRADE AND TOURISM.  AT A BUFFET LUNCH, TUVAL 
INTRODUCED HIS AMBASSADOR TO OVER 40 LOCAL BUSINESSMEN, 
TRAVEL AGENTS, ACADEMICS, AND GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS 
IN CUSTOMS AND THE JUDICIARY WITH WHOM HE HAS HAD 
OFFICIAL DEALINGS.  HE SAID HE WAS PLEASED BY BOTH 
THE TURNOUT AND THE ENSUING  DISCUSSIONS.  NOTING 
THAT HE HAS DIFFERED FREQUENTLY IN THE PAST WITH 
SASSON'S OFTEN DOUR DEPICTION OF EGYPTIAN-ISRAELI 
RELATIONS, TUVAL SAID HIS AMBASSADOR HAD CONCEDED 
THAT ALEXANDRIANS GENERALLY SEEM TO BE READIER TO 
ACCEPT NORMALIZATION (OR AT LEAST TO MEET WITH 
ISRAELIS)       THAN MANY IN CAIRO.  TUVAL ACCEPTED 
MY POINT THAT CERTAIN ELEMENTS OF ALEXANDRIAN 
SOCIETY (NOTABLY THE ISLAMIC RIGHT) PROBABLY DO NOT 
SHARE THIS VIEW.  HOWEVER, HE SAID HE FEELS A 
BROADER AND MORE REPRESENTATIVE PERSPECTIVE ON 
EGYPTIAN ATTITUDES IS AVAILABLE IN ALEXANDRIA, AND 
HE HOPES OTHER ISRAELI EMBASSY OFFICERS WILL VISIT 
THE CITY AND TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE OPPORTUNITIES 
AVAILABLE. 
 
6.  COMMENT:  ABOVE NOTWITHSTANDING, TUVAL COMPLAINED 
ON NOVEMBER 4 ABOUT THE REFUSAL OF SENIOR GOVERNORATE 
OFFICIALS TO ATTEND HIS FUNCTIONS, INCLUDING THE ONE 
FOR SASSON.  HE ALLEGED THAT CITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT 
EZZAT KADDOUS HAD TOLD HIM UNOFFICIALLY SOME TIME 
AGO THAT THIS IS DONE TO "SIYASSAT AL-IMTINA'", AN 
OFFICIALLY CONDONED "ABSTENTION POLICY."  END COMMENT. 
 
7.  AT HIS MEETING WITH THE GOVERNOR, TUVAL SAID 
HE RAISED THE QUESTION OF THE TWO ISRAELI SAILORS 
WHO WERE DETAINED IN EGYPT (RELEASED ON THEIR OWN 
RECOGNIZANCE) IN FEBRUARY 1986 WHILE THEIR CASE 
(ALLEGED HASHISH SMUGGLING) WAS CONSIDERED BY THE 
LOCAL COURTS (SEE REFTEL).  THEY WERE FOUND "NOT 
GUILTY" IN EARLY OCTOBER BUT ARE STILL UNABLE TO 
LEAVE EGYPT UNTIL THE DECISION IS REVIEWED.  TUVAL 
ASKED THE GOVERNOR TO INTERVENE OR AT LEAST USE 
HIS GOOD OFFICES TO EXPEDITE MATTERS, BUT THE 
LATTER DECLINED.  HE EVINCED IRRITATION THAT GAWSAQI, 
WHO IS A JUDGE BY TRAINING, WAS UNABLE TO PROVIDE A 
CLEAR EXPLANATION OF WHAT IS INVOLVED IN THE VERDICT 
REVIEW PROCESS.  AT NOVEMBER 4 DINNER, TUVAL WAS 
EVEN MORE PERPLEXED THAT THE SAILORS HAD STILL NOT 
BEEN REMOVED FROM THE DEPARTURE "BLACKLIST" BECAUSE OF 
CONTINUING BUREAUCRATIC DELAYS.  HE EXPRESSED THE 
HOPE THE CASE WOULD NOT BECOME A BILATERAL ISSUE. 
 
 
POST SUMMIT DEVELOPMENTS: 
------------------------ 
8.  I ASKED TUVAL IF HE HAD DETECTED ANY CHANGES IN 
LOCAL ATTITUDES TOWARD ISRAEL SINCE THE SEPTEMBER 
SUMMIT.  HE SAID HE FOUND THE FEW GOVERNORATE 
OFFICIALS HE MEETS REGULARLY TO BE SOMEWHAT MORE 
RELAXED IN HIS PRESENCE.  ALSO, HIS CONSULATE HAS 
RECEIVED A RECENT INCREASE IN INQUIRIES FROM LOCAL 
TRAVEL AGENTS ABOUT TOURISM, AND HE HAS MET WITH 
ONE REPRESENTATIVE FROM A LOCAL TRAVEL AGENCY. 
HOWEVER, TUVAL SAID HE DOES NOT EXPECT ANY UPSURGE 
IN EGYPTIAN SIGHTSEERS.  HE IS HOPEFUL, HOWEVER, 
THAT A LARGER NUMBER OF JEWISH PILGRIMS WILL ATTEND 
THIS YEAR'S COMMEMORATIVE BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS AT 
THE TOMB OF THE VENERATED 19TH CENTURY RABBI YACOUB 
ABU HASIRAH NEAR DAMANHOUR. 
 
 
ZIM LINES: 
---------- 
9.  ZIM CONTINUES TO DO ADEQUATELY IN ALEXANDRIA, 
DESPITE EGYPT'S CURRENT ECONOMIC PROBLEMS AND 
THE FALLOFF IN TRADE.  ALTHOUGH I DID NOT RAISE THIS 
SUBJECT WITH TUVAL, THE COMPANY'S LOCAL AGENT SAID 
RECENTLY THAT ZIM NOW OFFERS A CONTAINER SERVICE 
TWICE MONTHLY.  BUSINESS WITH EAST ASIA IS PARTICULARLY 
GOOD.  EACH SHIP IS ALSO ABLE TO PICK UP FROM 50 TO 60 
CONTAINERS ON EACH OUTWARD VOYAGE, AN ACHIEVEMENT THE 
AGENT IS ESPECIALLY PROUD OF.  LEADING EXPORTS 
CARRIED BY ZIM INCLUDE COTTON AND TEXTILES, USUALLY OF 
ASIAN OR EUROPEAN DESTINATIONS. 
 
 
DELTA AGRICULTURAL ACTIVITIES: 
----------------------------- 
10.  TUVAL SAID ISRAEL HAS TWO ONGOING AGRICULTURAL 
ACTIVITIES IN THE DELTA.  THE OLDEST IS THE TECHNICAL 
ASSISTANCE PROJECT UNDERTAKEN BY AN EXPERT NAMED 
KEIDAR (RESIDENT IN CAIRO) AT A FARM NEAR TANTA. 
(THERE IS ONE ZVI KEIDAR ON THE ISRAELI EMBASSY 
DIP LIST WHO MAY BE THE EXPERT MENTIONED.)  A VERY 
RECENT UNDERTAKING IS A JOINT GOVERNMENT-TO- 
GOVERNMENT AGRICULTURAL VENTURE NEAR THE DELTA TOWN 
OF GIANCLIS.  TUVAL SAID THIS PROJECT IS ALSO 
GOING WELL AND THAT A RESIDENT EXPERT IS PRESENT, 
BUT HE DID NOT PROVIDE ADDITIONAL DETAILS. (COMMENT: 
I ASKED IF IT WOULD BE POSSIBLE TO VISIT THESE 
TWO PROJECTS SOME DAY AS BOTH ARE IN MY CONSULAR 
DISTRICT.  TUVAL SAID NO.  EVEN HE AND OTHER 
ISRAELIS ARE NOT NORMALLY ALLOWED TO VISIT THE SITES 
IN ORDER TO PROTECT THEIR "LOW PROFILE" NATURE. 
HOWEVER, TUVAL SAID HE HOPES TO VISIT THEM WITH 
AMBASSADOR SASSON IN THE NEAR FUTURE AND WOULD BRIEF 
ME AT THAT TIME.  END COMMENT.) 
 
11.  ANOTHER AGRICULTURALLY-REALTED PROJECT WE ARE 
AWARE OF IS PURELY IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR AND IS 
DIRECTED BY ONE BENNY DUMAI (PHONETIC), A RESIDENT 
OF CAIRO, WHO HAS HAD SOME SUCCESS IN INTRODUCING 
ISRAELI DRIP IRRIGATION TECHNIQUES TO PRIVATE 
EGYPTIAN ENTREPRENEURS.  ONE SUCH ENTREPRENEUR IS 
AN ALEXANDRIAN WHO HAS USED DUMAI'S TECHNOLOGY TO 
IMPROVE THE CULTIVATION OF PEARS AND OTHER FRUIT 
ON HIS FARM IN THE CITY'S SUBURBS.  THIS EGYPTIAN 
WAS FULSOME IN HIS PRAISE FOR DUMAI, HIS TECHNOLOGY, 
AND WHAT IT HAS DONE FOR HIS FARM.  AT THE SAME TIME, 
HE NOTED THAT DUMAI WORKS VERY QUIETLY AND WITHOUT 
MUCH PUBLICITY (TUVAL SAID HE DID NOT RECOGNIZE THE 
NAME).  THE EGYPTIAN LIKEWISE FEELS HE MUST BE 
DISCREET IN HIS DEALINGS WITH THE ISRAELIS (HE WORKS 
AT AIN SHAMS UNIVERSITY).  HE HAS EVEN TAKEN THE 
PRECAUTION OF PUTTING A WALL AROUND THE MAIN CONTROL 
UNIT FOR HIS IRRIGATION SYSTEM TO PREVENT OUTSIDERS 
FROM SEEING THE HEBREW LETTERING ON THE MACHINERY. 
 
 
COTTON: 
------- 
 
12.  THE ISRAELIS ARE APPARENTLY INVOLVED IN SOME 
COTTON DEALINGS HERE AS WELL.  TUVAL IS HAZY ON THE 
DETAILS BUT HE RECALLS THAT SOMEONE FROM EILAT (PERHAPS 
NAMED "MUKKI;" TUVAL SAID HE WOULD TRY TO CHECK) 
BEING INVOLVED IN NEGOTIATIONS WITH AN ALEXANDRIA- 
BASED PUBLIC SECTOR COTTON COMPANY TO TRADE OR SELL 
ISRAELI SHORT FIBER COTTON IN EXCHANGE FOR EGYPT'S 
MUCH PRIZED LONG FIBER VARIETY.  (COMMENT:  U.S. 
COTTON PRODUCERS HAVE A SIMILAR ARRANGEMENT WHICH IS 
PROFITABLE AND ADVANTAGEOUS FOR BOTH OF THE PARTIES 
INVOLVED.  WE WILL REPORT ON DETAILS ABOUT THE 
ISRAELI ARRANGEMENTS AS AVAILABLE.  END COMMENT.) 
 
ISRAELI CONGEN ACTIVITIES OUTSIDE ALEXANDRIA: 
-------------------------------------------- 
13.  TUVAL'S CONSULAR DISTRICT INCLUDES FOR PROVINCES: 
ALEXANDRIA, BUHAYRA, KAFR AL-SHAYKH, AND DAQAHILIYAH 
(MANSURA).  THUS FAR, HE HAS ONLY VISITED THE 
BUHAYRA IN THE HINTERLAND, PRINCIPALLY BECAUSE THE 
GOVERNORS OF KAFR AL-SHAYKH AND DAQAHILIYAH HAVE 
NEVER RESPONDED TO REQUESTS FOR APPOINTMENTS.  HE 
SAID HE PLANS TO TRY TO CALL ON THEM WITHOUT 
APPOINTMENTS SOMETIME BEFORE THE END OF THE YEAR. 
 
 
TUVAL'S FUTURE: 
-------------- 
14.  TUVAL'S SUBORDINATES HAVE MENTIONED RECENTLY 
TO FRIENDS ON CONGEN STAFF THAT TUVAL WILL BE 
LEAVING HIS POST IN EARLY 1987.  ISRAELI MFA IS 
ALLEGED TO BE LOOKING FOR A SUCCESSOR WHO IS 
"PUBLIC RELATIONS MINDED."  THE ZIM LINE AGENT HAS 
ALSO TOLD US THAT TUVAL MAY BE DEPARTING "SOON." 
TUVAL HIMSELF IS MUM ON THE SUBJECT. ASKED NOVEMBER 4 
HOW LONG A NORMAL TOUR OF DUTY IS, TUVAL (WHO ARRIVED 
IN 1984) REPLIED "THREE TO FOUR YEARS." 
 
15.  COMMENT:  ALTHOUGH I SEE TUVAL ON A REGULAR 
BASIS, AND WE HAVE A GOOD RELATIONSHIP, THE MEETINGS 
ARE USUALLY AT MY INITIATIVE.  TUVAL IS NOT AS ACTIVE 
AS HIS PREDECESSOR AND PROBABLY HAS NOT OPENED AS 
MANY DOORS AS HE MIGHT HAVE DONE.  THE SEPARATION 
FROM HIS FAMILY (RESIDENT IN JERUSALEM FOR SCHOOLING) 
HAS TAKEN ITS TOLL IN THIS REGARD.  ON THE OTHER HAND, 
HE IS PLEASANT, NOT PUSHY, AND HAS GONE OUT OF HIS 
WAY TO UNDERSTAND EGYPTIAN VIEWPOINTS AND PUT DOMESTIC 
EVENTS IN EGYPT INTO A BROADER CONTEXT.  IT IS 
APPARENT THAT HE IS NEITHER HELPED NOR ENCOURAGED BY 
HIS EMBASSY IN CAIRO IN HIS VARIOUS UNDERTAKINGS. 
HE CONSULTS REGULARLY, BUT DOES NOT SEEM TO BE KEPT 
IN THE INFORMATION LOOP.  WITHOUT HIS AMBASSADOR'S 
FULL UNDERSTANDING AND SUPPORT, IT IS HARD TO IMAGINE 
HOW HE CAN BE EXPECTED TO DO MUCH BETTER AS A 
WELL-INFORMED AND EFFECTIVE PROPONENT OF IMPROVED 
EGYPTIAN-ISRAELI TIES.  TUVAL IS ASSISTED IN HIS 
 
 
HAMBLEY 

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