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Israel and Egypt Still Locked in Dispute over Pow Allegations

Israel and Egypt have failed to resolve a dispute over allegations that Israeli soldiers killed Egyptian POWs during the 1956 Sinai Campaign and the 1967 Six- Day War.

Deputy Foreign Minister Eli Dayan discussed the allegations during talks in Cairo on Tuesday with Egyptian Foreign Minister Amre Moussa and Osama Al-Baz, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s top political aide.

Although both sides reportedly agreed that the allegations represented isolated incidents and were not reflective of government or military policy, the Egyptian officials requested an inquiry.

In response, Dayan said that if an inquiry were carried out, it should include all the questionable wartime actions carried out by each side since Israel’s 1948 War of Independence.

Dayan also said actions that took place in the past should not affect the two countries’ current relations.

The meeting in Cairo came in the wake of recent allegations by Israeli war veterans and historians.

The allegations have raised a furor in Israel and Egypt.

Last week, Mubarak called on Israel to launch an investigation into the affair.

But Israeli officials say the statute of limitations on the alleged crimes has expired.

Mubarak, who initially did not respond to the allegations, was believed to have issued the call for an investigation in Israel after Egypt’s opposition newspapers pounced on the story, demanding that the country’s leadership criticize Israel.

An Egyptian newspaper published an article last week saying that Israel’s ambassador to Egypt, David Sultan, killed some 100 Egyptian POWs when he was a paratrooper commander in 1956.

The report was sharply denounced by Israel.

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations also expressed concern over the report, which the group called “provocative” and said could lead to acts of violence.

In a letter to Mubarak, the Conference of Presidents chairman, Leon Levy, and executive vice chairman, Malcolm Hoenlein, said: “The charges that have been made warrant examination and verification but they should not be allowed to give occasion to violence and jeopardize the lives of individuals as well as Egyptian-Israeli relations which you have worked to hard to foster.”

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