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Peter Gabriel arrives in Israel for 'peace concert'

By
CARMEL GERBER

TEL AVIV, Israel, June 15 -- British rock star Peter Gabriel arrived Wednesday to prepare for his 'peace concert' at Egypt's border with Israel, but diplomatic snags threatened to cancel the Middle East musical extravaganza.

Gabriel said unspecified 'technical' problems could force the concert at the Taba beach resort along the Red Sea to be scrapped and moved inside Israel, or possibly to the newly autonomous West Bank town of Jericho.

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'It was my intention for this to be seen as supporting the peace process,' a clearly frustrated Gabriel said at a news conference.

The concert, scheduled for Saturday night, was to have featured rock perennial Lou Reed and a variety of both Israeli and Arab pop stars joining Gabriel.

Israeli newspapers reported Gabriel's crew was unable to take equipment across the border from Israel, apparently because Egypt felt slighted by Israeli sponsorship of the show.

Gabriel accepted Israeli promoter Zev Eizik's invitation to perform Sunday in Tel Aviv, on the condition that he also play in an Arab country. The Sunday show will definitely still go on, but questions lingered over the Taba concert.

People close to the promoter said the performance could be moved to the neighboring Israeli city of Eilat. Jericho was also mentioned as a possibility, although a less likely one.

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Gabriel had previously refused to play in Israel, citing alleged human rights violations. The rock superstar softened his stance when Israel signed a pact with the Palestine Liberation Organization last month granting Palestinians self-rule in the Gaza Strip and Jericho.

Taba was one of the sites where Israeli and PLO negotiators hammered out the agreement. It was also the subject of a decade-long struggle between Israel and Egypt over control of the tiny strip of Red Sea beach.

Both performances are under the auspices of World of Music Arts and Dance, or WOMAD, an organization founded by Gabriel in 1982 and dedicated to promoting trans-cultural awareness through music.

Tickets have been on sale in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Israel.NEWLN: (Written by Carmel Gerber, edited by Jonathan Ferziger.)

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