As the trial of Hosni Mubarak began in Egypt, an Israeli lawmaker said he had offered political asylum in Israel to the longtime Egyptian president.
Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, a Knesset member from the Labor Party, told Israel’s Army Radio on Wednesday that he had made the offer to an ailing Mubarak several months ago in Sharm el-Sheikh, a Red Sea resort city in Egypt.
"I met [Mubarak] in Sharm el-Sheikh and I told him that it was a short distance and that it might be a good chance to heal himself," Ben-Eliezer said, according to Haaretz. "I am convinced that the Israel government would have accepted him, but he declined [the offer] because he was a patriot."
According to The Jerusalem Post, Ben-Eliezer said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was a party to the offer.
Mubarak, who resigned as president under fire after serving 30 years, went on trial Wednesday on charges of charges related to corruption and the killing of demonstrators.
Appearing in a hospital bed inside a defendant’s cage, Mubarak denied the charges against him. The trial — Mubarak’s first public appearance since he gave a televised speech in February refusing to resign amid protests sweeping Egypt — was broadcast on Egyptian television.
Ben Eliezer’s account was denied by an aide to Netanyahu.
"The prime minister never offered Mubarak asylum," the aide, Roni Sofer, told the Associated Press on Wednesday.