Benjamin Netanyahu meeting Mubarak
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egypt President Hosni Mubarak during a meeting in Sharm el-Sheik, Monday, May 3, 2010. Photo by AP
Text size

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will leave for Egypt immediately after his visit to the United States to meet with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Officials in Jerusalem confirmed news of the trip, first reported by Egyptian daily Al-Wafd.

Netanyahu will update Mubarak on his meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama and plans for holding direct negotiations with the Palestinian Authority and the lifting of the siege on the Gaza Strip.

Egyptian media and official spokesmen avoided commenting on a report in Haaretz that Mubarak has cancer. The 82-year-old continued with his day-to-day work yesterday and took part in a reception in Alexandria. However, Haaretz has learned that Mubarak has been undergoing treatment aimed at containing the spread of cancer.

In an unusual development yesterday, the regime's mouthpiece, Al-Ahram, published a front-page story on the president's son Gamal and his statements to members of Egypt's ruling party, the National Democratic Party.

Gamal Mubarak, 47, a businessman and chairman of the party's Policy Planning Committee, said the war on poverty would top the party's priorities ahead of the parliamentary elections.

The story, which carried a photograph of the younger Mubarak, added that he spoke of the need to curb corruption in the country.

In Egypt, the report on the president's son and likely successor is not a coincidence.

There is no information on President Mubarak's condition, but his son is expected to follow similar policies if he takes over. Gamal Mubarak, a businessman who is considered pro-Western, studied at American University in Cairo and has visited Washington a number of times in recent years, where he met with representatives of Jewish organizations.

If Gamal is presented as a candidate for the National Democratic Party in the 2011 presidential elections, the opposition is expected to condemn the move.

The opposition will probably seek to put forth a strong candidate, possibly in the form of Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

However, he would have to rally the support of at least 250 members of parliament to amend the constitution, making it possible for him to run. The vast majority of parliamentarians in Egypt are members of Mubarak's party.