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Decision on Entebbe Coin Stalled

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A decision whether to mint a coin or medal commemorating Israel’s rescue operation at Entebbe Airport, Uganda July 3 is not expected until later this week. Yitzhak Avni, director general of the government’s coin and medals corporation who is a strong advocate of some kind of commemorative issue, had “no comment” yesterday when asked by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency to clarify the matter.

Emerging from a meeting of the corporation’s board of directors, Avni would say only that a detailed statement would be issued to the press when the time comes. Informed sources believe a decision will be forthcoming before the end of the week.

The corporation had originally proposed issuing a gold coin. The idea was opposed by Moshe Sanbar, Governor of the Bank of Israel, which must approve the minting of any legal tender. The coin would be intended mainly as a collector’s item. Sanbar argued that the time lag between the proposal and the appearance of the coin, which he estimated at about a year, would depreciate its value because by then interest in the Entebbe operation will have waned.

Avni insisted it was the government’s duty to commemorate noteworthy events in the country’s history. He suggested that instead of a coin, the State issue a medal which would not require Bank of Israel approval. He claimed that medals in gold, silver and bronze could be ready in two months “and we could time it to appear at about the same time as the premiers of several films on Entebbe that are already being produced,” he said. Sources here said that Sanbar’s opposition to a commemorative coin stemmed from the failure of the two latest gold coins issued by Israel– the Ben Gurion and Israel Bond commemoratives.

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