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Page last updated at 15:27 GMT, Tuesday, 27 May 2008 16:27 UK

Egypt rumours disrupt Jewish trip

By Magdi Abdelhadi
BBC News, Cairo

Cairo
The group had wanted to visit old neighbourhoods, trip organisers said

A trip to Egypt by a Jewish group has been called off after rumours they were going to reclaim nationalised property prompted hotels to cancel bookings.

Allegations were broadcast on Egyptian television last week that the group was coming to claim confiscated property.

The trip organisers denied that, saying it was purely a personal journey.

But anti-Israeli sentiment in Egypt is so strong that no business is willing to take any risk, particularly when it involves such a highly sensitive issue.

The woman behind the trip, Levana Zamir, is an Egyptian-born Israeli who runs an organisation in Tel Aviv that seeks to promote better understanding between the two cultures.

Ms Zamir, who speaks Arabic fluently, said she was one of a group of elderly Jewish people of Egyptian origin from all over the world who wanted to visit their ancestral homeland with their children, to see old neighbourhoods.

Television presenter

But a few days before the group was due to arrive in Cairo, she was told by the Egyptian travel agent that their hotel reservation was cancelled and that no other hotel in Egypt wanted to receive them.

Many believe it is all down to the populist television presenter, Amr Adeeb, whose programme is widely watched here.

Mr Adeeb urged the authorities last week to prevent the trip from going ahead.

He said all the department stores that were established by Egyptian Jews at the turn of the past century were now the property of the people of Egypt.

A local organisation that represents the few remaining Jewish people in Egypt has distanced itself from the trip.

Despite a peace treaty that ended decades of war between Egypt and Israel, relations between the two countries remain tense.

The majority of Egyptians identify with the Palestinians under Israeli occupation and the country is often rife with rumours of Israeli plots to undermine Egyptian interests.



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