JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel has long preferred current Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman as the successor to President Hosni Mubarak, according to leaked U.S. diplomatic cables.
A senior adviser from Israel’s Ministry of Defense told U.S. diplomats in Tel Aviv in August 2008 that Suleiman was viewed as the most likely interim president if Mubarak died or was incapacitated.
U.S. diplomat Luis Moreno wrote that "there is no question that Israel is most comfortable with the prospect of" Suleiman, according to the cable released Monday night by WikiLeaks and published by the Daily Telegraph on its website.
In 2008, Mubarak’s son Gamal was seen as his father’s likely successor. Suleiman, who was head of the foreign intelligence service, at the time was Israel’s main contact in the Egyptian government. The cable notes that a hot-line set up between Israel’s Defense Ministry and the Suleiman-led Egyptian General Intelligence Service was in "daily use."
The leaked cable reveals that Suleiman, angry at Israeli criticism of Egypt’s ineffectiveness in stopping arms smuggling to Gaza, suggested that Israel send troops to Egypt’s Philadelphi Corridor and stop the smuggling by itself.
The cables also quote Suleiman as saying that Hamas should be isolated and that Gaza could "go hungry but not starve."
Suleiman is currently leading talks with opposition parties, and has the backing of the United States, to lead the transition to democracy in the wake of two weeks of demonstrations in Egypt.