Israeli, Palestinian leaders salute Mubarak’s role as Middle East mediator


Middle East leaders have paid tribute to former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, hailing his record as a man who brought stability to Egypt and acted as a regional mediator, most notably in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Mubarak, who held power for 30 years until he was ousted in 2011 in a popular uprising against corruption and autocratic rule, died on Tuesday at the age of 91. A partner of the West in fighting Islamists, Mubarak presided over an era of stagnation and oppression at home and was an early victim of the Arab Spring revolutions that swept the region.

On the international stage, however, he garnered respect as a regional power broker and a man of peace. Saluting a “personal friend”, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed “deep sorrow” over Mubarak’s death.

Netanyahu described the late Egyptian president as “a leader who guided his people to peace and security, to peace with Israel.”

Mahmoud Abbas, the head of the Palestinian Authority, said he mourned Mubarak’s death “with great sorrow”, hailing his record as a friend of the Palestinian cause. Mubarak “spent his life serving his homeland and the issues of righteousness and justice in the world, with the issue of our Palestinian people at the top of them,” Abbas said.

Anwar Gargash, the United Arab Emirates' minister of state for foreign affairs, hailed Mubarak as “a statesman (…) who espoused nationalistic and historical positions”.

The former head of the International Atomic Agency, Mohamed El-Baradei, who was a key opposition figure in the waning years of Mubarak, also paid his respects.

“May God have mercy on the former president (...) and grant his family patience and comfort,” he said on Twitter.

Other opposition activists who were prominent in the revolution that unseated Mubarak, such as Wael Ghoneim, were also forgiving in their words on social media.

“He was loyal and loving of Egypt (…). He took on a great responsibility towards the Egyptian people,” Ghoneim wrote on Twitter. “He was right a lot of the time and also wrong a lot of the time (…), history will decide,” the activist added.

Former presidential candidate Ayman Nour, who ran against Mubarak in multi-candidate elections widely seen as fraudulent in 2005, lost and was subsequently jailed, was also conciliatory in his tone.

“I promise to God I personally forgive him,” he said.    (FRANCE 24/AFP/&REUTERS)

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