Prime Minister Atef Obeid will take up ‘constitutional and legal powers and jurisdictions until he returns,’ the report said. Mubarak will undergo an operation in Munich on 21 June to repair a slipped vertebral disc, Health Minister Mohammed Awad Tajeddin told the official Mena news agency. Officials issued reports denying the president was in poor health after a number of meetings were postponed in May and June.

Separately, Palestinian officials said on 20 June that Egypt would not send security experts to Gaza ahead of an Israeli pullout unless all Palestinian factions accept Cairo’s involvement and a truce.

Egypt has offered to help train and support Palestinian security forces to operate in Gaza when Israeli settlements and troops leave the occupied land, so that Islamist militants do not operate unchecked.

But the Palestinian officials said Egypt was disturbed by opposition to its proposed role by Palestinian factions and several security chiefs who fear they might lose their jobs. ‘They want to make sure their role is welcomed by all Palestinians otherwise they will withdraw their effort,’ an official said.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath said Egypt would not send experts to Gaza unless Israel and all Palestinian factions agreed to a ceasefire. ‘They [the Egyptians] don’t want to look bad [if there is violence] and they don’t want it to backfire. They also don’t want to feel they’re a foreign power intruding on anybody,’ he said.

Palestinian factions met Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia last week to discuss the ceasefire and confirmed talks would continue.