Former Taba negotiator shocked, not surprised

When Professor Abraham Sofaer watched the Taba Hilton go up in smoke last week, it struck a personal chord.

He had stayed at the establishment many times, even negotiating its sale from

an Israeli businessman to the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism.

“The tower that came down, I stayed in the room in that tower when I concluded the five-year negotiation process that led to the exchange of the territory,” said Sofaer, a fellow at the Hoover Institution and the chief negotiator during the settlement of Egypt and Israel’s dispute over the sovereignty of Taba from 1985-90.

“But it was a soft target. Those are the kind of places [terrorists] will go after. That’s what they’ll continue to do, go after the softest targets, even if they kill women and children.”

Taba had been one of the few places where Israelis, Egyptians and even Saudis mingled in a holiday setting. But, Sofaer notes, Israel’s Mossad knew something was brewing, and it is uncertain how the Egyptians took the news — or even got it.

“My understanding is the Mossad did tell certainly the Israelis that Sinai was a dangerous place; they had intelligence there would be attacks in Sinai. So that is very sad. All of that intelligence was not turned into concrete action that would have saved those people,” he said.


Israeli families torn asunder by Taba