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Tuesday, 1 May, 2001, 14:51 GMT 15:51 UK
Protest at Peres Nazi image
Shimon Peres (L) and Hosni Mubarak
Peres (L) is very unpopular in the Arab world
Israel's ambassador to Egypt has accused the local press of inciting hatred against the Jewish state after a local newspaper depicted Shimon Peres as a Nazi.

The opposition Al-Arabi newspaper published a photo-montage of the Israeli foreign minister's head on a body dressed in Nazi uniform.

...incitement and hatred which has no place in Egypt...

Israel's ambassador to Egypt
It followed his talks on Sunday with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo.

Mr Peres was the first senior Israeli government official to visit Egypt since Ariel Sharon came to power last month.

'The butcher of Qana'

"The depiction of Peres in this way represents incitement and hatred which has no place in Egypt and the Middle East," Israeli ambassador, Zvi Mazel, said after his official protest to the Egyptian authorities.

Al Arabi published the picture next to a headline which read: "Peres, the butcher of Qana and messenger of the great criminal Sharon, is in Cairo today".

Peres was prime minister in 1996 when Israel shelled a UN base in the south Lebanese village of Qana, killing 106 residents.

The villagers were seeking shelter from an Israeli operation against Hizbollah guerrillas.

Ceasefire confusion

The inaugural talks between Mr Peres and the Egyptian president ended in confusion.

Mr Mubarak came out of the meeting to announce a ceasefire agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, but this was later denied by Mr Peres.

Activists demonstrate in front of the foreign ministry in Jerusalem
Peace activists call for a freeze on Israeli settlements
Mr Mubarak told reporters: "The two sides have agreed to a ceasefire...After a ceasefire of four weeks, negotiations between the two sides will start to reach a solution to the current situation."

He said that the Israelis had "begged" him to make the statement, but Mr Peres later disowned the remarks.

Instead, he spoke only of an agreement in principle to slow down the violence and improve conditions for Palestinians subjected to an economic blockade.

Palestinian officials said they knew nothing about a ceasefire agreement.

Inciteful rhetoric

Mr Peres and his Egyptian counterpart Amr Moussa also called for an end to hate campaigns in both countries.

Israeli rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the spiritual head of Israel's biggest ultra-Orthodox party sparked regional rage earlier this month.

Mr Yosef, in a sermon, condemned attacks by Arabs, adding: "One must not take pity on them - they must be shelled with destroy them."

"I believe that all of us have to make a real effort to stop the incitement and to stop the accusations," Mr Peres said.

"It serves no purpose. It leads nowhere," agreed Mr Moussa.

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29 Apr 01 | Middle East
Arabs push Mid-East peace plan
27 Apr 01 | Middle East
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