Aide denies Israel offered asylum to Mubarak

An aide to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has denied a claim that surfaced this week: that Israel offered asylum to Egypt’s deposed President Hosni Mubarak several months ago.

The claim came from Knesset member Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, a former Israeli defense minister, army general and longtime friend of the ousted Egyptian leader. As the trial of Mubarak was beginning in Egypt, Ben-Eliezer told Israel’s Army Radio he proposed that Mubarak seek asylum in Eilat, on Israel’s border with Egypt’s Sinai Desert.

He said the offer — which came from him and Netanyahu — was made while Mubarak was still president, during a meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh.

On Aug. 3, Roni Sofer, an aide to Netanyahu, flatly denied that. “It never happened,” Sofer said. “The prime minister never offered Mubarak asylum.”

Ben-Eliezer’s spokesman said he would make no further statements. On Aug. 3, Mubarak’s trial began in Cairo; the 83-year-old is charged with corruption and ordering the killing of protesters during the uprising that ousted him. — ap