Hosni Mubarak, currently facing a raft of charges, including murder, in a Cairo courtroom, was apparently offered asylum in Israel.
Binyamin Ben-Eliezer told the Israeli Army Radio network that he and Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu said the deposed Egyptian leader could stay in Eilat.
“I met Mubarak in Sharm el-Sheikh [Egypt] and I told him that it was a short distance [to Eilat] and that it might be a good chance to heal himself,” Ben-Eliezer said.
“I am convinced that the Israel government would have accepted him, but he declined the offer because he was a patriot.”
According to a report in Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper, Ben-Eliezer was believed to have very close ties to Mubarak. The two met dozens of times, with Ben-Eliezer often accompanying Israeli leaders on trips to Egypt.
Mubarak had played a key role in mediating disputes between the Israelis and Palestinians and was seen as one of the few allies Israel had in the Arab world.
However, when the Arab revolts broke out earlier this year, particularly in Egypt, Netanyahu apparently forbade his ministers from making public comments on the crisis, out of concern that any regime change in Cairo would damage the Camp David Peace Treaty that had been in effect for over thirty years.