CAIRO, JULY 19 -- As Egypt's foreign minister prepares to visit Israel Monday, an Egyptian government invitation to Austrian President Kurt Waldheim has caused new tension with Israel.

Israel supports contentions that Waldheim was involved in atrocities against Greek Jews and Yugoslav partisans as a Nazi intelligence officer during World War II. Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir said last week that Cairo's invitation for Waldheim to visit shows Arab hatred for Israel.

During his three-day visit, Egyptian Foreign Minister Esmat Abdel Meguid reportedly hopes to persuade Shamir and other leaders of Israel's right-wing Likud Bloc to agree to an international conference on peace in the Middle East. Shamir insists on direct negotiations with Jordan.

Egypt, which says Waldheim has accepted the invitation, has rejected Israel's criticism of it. "The decision is one of sovereignty," said a statement by the Egyptian Foreign Ministry. "Egypt will not allow any country to interfere in its decisions just as it does not interfere in Israel's internal affairs," the statement read. "Israeli leaders should understand this."

A high-level Foreign Ministry official said Abdel Meguid would refuse to discuss the Waldheim issue during the three-day trip to Israel.

It is unclear why Egypt invited Waldheim, especially just before Abdel Meguid's trip. Two weeks ago, a top aide to President Hosni Mubarak told reporters that Waldheim would not be welcome here.

"We don't need that," said the official, implying that Egypt wanted to avoid trouble with both Israel and the United States.

Foreign Ministry officials could not explain the change in Egypt's stance. Observers speculated that, although aides were against the idea of a Waldheim visit, Mubarak was persuaded by Jordan's King Hussein, who received Waldheim several weeks ago. The Jordanian view is that Waldheim is a friend of the Arabs who has been persecuted by Jewish forces and should be supported.

Since the election of Waldheim last year only Hussein and Pope John Paul II have received him. The U.S. Justice Department has banned Waldheim from entering the United States as a private person.

Officials here said the invitation to Waldheim was extended by Abdel Meguid during a trip to Vienna this month. A date has not been set and a Foreign Ministry official here said the visit would not take place "immediately," explaining that "our schedule is very full."

Despite the new tension, Egyptian officials say they will concentrate on the proposed international Middle East peace conference during their talks in Israel. They say they hope to soften opposition to the conference by appealing to Likud Party leaders and to the Israeli public.

Israel's Labor Party, which forms the other bloc in the "national unity" coalition government, is already in favor of the conference. In Egypt's view, the main obstacle to holding the conference is the refusal of the Israeli government to endorse it.

"Time is running out and we still have favorable conditions" in the Arab world, said a high-level Foreign Ministry official. "Our aim is to persuade Shamir that this {international conference} is the only way to move forward."

The official said bilateral issues will not be discussed during the trip.

He said Abdel Meguid would meet Shamir, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and other Israeli officials in their offices in West Jerusalem and would return to Tel Aviv to spend the night.

He added that the minister would not visit East Jerusalem, which has been occupied by Israel since the 1967 war. "We don't recognize the annexation of Jerusalem," said the official.