Egypt commemorates Arab-Israeli war as peace talks flounder


Cairo : Egyptian state newspapers commemorated Tuesday the upcoming 37th anniversary of the 1973 war with Israel, as the US scrambles to hold together direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

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In an interview with the journal of the Egyptian Armed Forces ahead of the war’s anniversary Wednesday, President Hosni Mubarak said that the failure of direct Israeli-Palestinian talks would result in the spread of terrorism around the globe.

His remarks come as regional peace continues to appear illusive and larger questions of Palestinian statehood remain unanswered.

The Israeli-Palestinian talks, which were restarted last month, are hanging in the balance after Israel refused to extend a 10-month partial freeze on settlement building in the West Bank, despite US and international calls to do so.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was in Cairo Tuesday for talks with Mubarak ahead of an Arab League meeting scheduled later this week, in which the organisation will decide whether to continue lending support to the talks.

For its part, Israeli media published newly released minutes from a top-level Israeli cabinet meeting held the first day after Egypt launched an attack in an effort to take back the Sinai Peninsula.

The 1973 war, known in Egypt as the “Sixth of October War” and known in Israel as the “Yom Kippur” war, is celebrated in Egypt as a strategic military victory which helped restore national confidence after Egypt’s defeat in 1967.

The war, initiated by a coalition of Arab military forces led by Egypt, resulted in Egypt’s reclamation of the Sinai Peninsula, which Israel had annexed six years earlier.

It also contributed to the historic 1979 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, the first between Israel and any Arab state.

Every year since, Egypt has declared Oct 6 a national holiday from work and school.