Mideast Report

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JERUSALEM (JPS) — Former Labor Prime Minister Shimon Peres launched a blistering attack on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Monday, without mentioning him by name.

Netanyahu is causing the Arab world to unite against Israel and is killing the peace process, Peres said in his most vocal criticism of the premier.

Peres, who said he wants to remain at the head of the Labor Party despite his narrow 30,000-vote defeat to Netanyahu May 29, told the Labor Knesset faction that Netanyahu's U.S. trip last week "had been in the wrong direction in every sense of the word."

Peres said he is "very concerned" by the new government's attitude toward peace talks with Syria and the Palestinians, and that Netanyahu's first diplomatic visit should have been to an Arab country.

Peres also scoffed at Netanyahu's demand that the Arab world prove it would act democratically before Israel continues to push ahead with the peace process.

"I want to believe that peace will bring democracy," Peres said. But by waiting for democracy before peace, he added, the government is risking being left with neither.

Bombmaker gets life jail sentences

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Nearly a year after suicide bombers struck in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, an Israeli military court has sentenced a Palestinian man to two consecutive life sentences for making the bombs used in the attacks.

Abdel Atallah, 23, a resident of the Balata refugee camp near the West Bank town of Nablus, was sentenced Tuesday for supplying the explosives used by a Hamas suicide bomber in the July 24, 1995 attack on a bus outside the 40-story Diamond Exchange in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan.

He was also convicted in connection with the August 21, 1995 explosion on the No. 26 bus in Jerusalem's northern neighborhood of Ramat Eshkol.

The Tel Aviv bombing claimed the lives of six victims and wounded 32 others. Four victims were killed and more than 100 wounded in the Jerusalem blast.

Golda said to reject freeing '72 hostages

JERUSALEM (JTA) — German Television reports that then-Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir rejected a plan for the release of Israeli athletes taken hostage by Palestinian terrorists during the 1972 Munich Olympics.

Eleven Israeli athletes were murdered during the Munich Games after Palestinians from the Black September group raided their rooms and took them hostage.

Two athletes were shot by members of the group, and nine others were killed in the exchange of fire between the terrorists and German forces during a failed rescue attempt.

The German TV report said the then-German interior minister had reached an agreement with Egypt and the captors that the terrorists and hostages would be flown to Egypt, the terrorists would be freed and the Israelis sent home.

According to the report, then-German Chancellor Willy Brandt ordered a rescue attempt by untrained border police only after Meir rejected any compromise proposal.

Zvi Zamir, who at the time headed the Mossad, Israel's foreign intelligence agency, denied the report.

Israel may tax some prostitutes

TEL AVIV (JPS) — If Israeli tax officials have their way, prostitutes working on the streets, from escort agencies, or at massage parlors will have to pay their dues soon.

Until now, authorities have periodically raided massage parlors and escort services together with police, but so far "working girls" have been able to avoid paying taxes on their cash.

Some three years ago, tax authorities arrested several Tel Aviv escort-agency owners for tax evasion. Some reached an agreement and paid their back taxes, while at least one owner was indicted for tax-evasion.

The earnings of call-girls working from offices or massage parlors are easier to check than those of street prostitutes, because business operators usually list clients and women's names.

One Israeli escort service even advertises on the Internet, using graphics that include near-pornographic photographs.

Palestinian terrorist reportedly uses scam

JERUSALEM (JPS) — Palestinian terrorist Abu Nidal has raised hundreds of millions of dollars through a scam involving American supermarket coupons, the New York Post reports.

Abu Nidal, who has rejected the peace process, has reportedly raised some $1 million annually from the scam in the $5-billion-a-year coupon industry.

The fraud works this way: Newspapers are purchased by the pound from paper recyclers. Coupons are clipped, then turned over to shady supermarkets. Acting as middlemen for a percentage of the take, the markets redeem the coupons as if the actual sales had taken place.

It was not clear how the fraud was detected, although the newspaper said investigators found grocery stores that redeemed coupons for more products than their sales justified.