Mideast Report

Palestinians prefer terror to peace: poll

JERUSALEM (JPS) — Support for the peace process among Palestinians in Jerusalem, Hebron and Bethlehem is at an all-time low and support for suicide bombings is at an all-time high, according to a new poll.

Statistician Nabil Kukali of the Beit Sahur-based Palestinian Center for Public Opinion conducted the poll, published Saturday of last week, among 470 adults. Its margin of error is 3.5 percent.

Almost 49 percent supported the March 21 suicide bombing in Tel Aviv, which killed three women and wounded dozens.

The poll indicated growing support for Hamas, with 18 percent saying they would support it in local elections and 13 percent more supporting Islamic independents. Support for Yasser Arafat's Fatah was 26.6 percent.

The poll showed 30 percent favor continued negotiations, while 37 percent want to abandon the process and 19 percent want to continue it with new Palestinian negotiators.

Plot to hit embassy in Jordan revealed

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Jordanian police have detained 11 youths suspected of planning a terrorist attack on Israel's embassy in Amman.

Sources in the Jordanian capital said the youths were also suspected of forming an illegal organization and distributing subversive materials.

Earlier this week, reports from Jordan said the car belonging to the head of the Jordanian committee investigating the March 13 shooting of seven Israeli schoolgirls by a Jordanian soldier had been torched outside his home.

Members of the committee visited Israel this week and met with teachers and students who took part in the school trip to Naharayim, which is controlled by Jordan and leased to Israel under the countries' 1994 peace treaty.

The Jordanian delegation presented one of the teachers and three of the students with watches as gifts from the Jordanian army.

Israel cracks down on money laundering

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel's Justice Ministry is seeking tougher punishments for money laundering in Israel.

The ministry called this week for new legislation, saying that no other effective means was available to combat the problem.

Officials are concerned that the problem could become more widespread in Israel as the peace process, new drug routes and increased organized crime activities create additional avenues for laundering money.

The ministry wants legislation that would require banks to report any suspicious business deals and that would slap a 10-year prison sentence on those convicted of the crime.

In a related development, Israeli police officials announced last week that their international crime-fighting division would increase fivefold to combat Russian organized crime in the Jewish state.

Bottles of pesticide wash up on shore

JERUSALEM (JTA) — More than 400 bottles containing poisonous material washed up on Israel's shores this week.

Environment Ministry officials said they believe that the bottles fell off a boat that was transporting them and were blown toward Israel's coast by recent storms.

The white, liter-sized bottles were found along nearly all of Israel's Mediterranean coast, from Rosh Hanikra in the north to Ashdod in the south.

Laboratory tests indicated that the bottles contained an organic material used as a pesticide.

Some of the bottles had broken open, spilling their contents into the Mediterranean.

Arab-Israeli player dies during match

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Police are investigating whether proper medical care was given to an Israeli soccer player who collapsed and died on the field during a game last weekend.

Wahib Jabara, 23, of Hapoel Taibe, collapsed in the middle of a game Saturday against Bnei Yehuda Tel Aviv. The game was played in the Arab town of Umm el-Fahm.

Doctors from both teams gave Jabara first aid, and an ambulance evacuated him to a hospital in Afula.

He was declared dead on arrival.