Mideast Report

JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Israeli Arab who drove his car into a group of British tourists has been admitted to a hospital with a torn spleen.

The 31-year-old Nazareth man was captured immediately after the attack in Tuesday night by an off-duty border police guard.

The attacker's family denied that he was affiliated with the Hamas fundamentalist group.

A group of British youth were standing on a sidewalk in Jaffa, the ancient city just south of Tel Aviv, when the man drove into them, lightly injuring eight to 10 youths.

He then got out of the car, drew a knife and tried to stab a mother and daughter in a nearby restaurant.

Also Tuesday, a Palestinian stabbed and lightly wounded an Israeli border police guard in the Gaza Strip.

No-confidence vote lacks knockout blow

JERUSALEM (JPS) — The government received a slap in the face — but no death blow — when an opposition-led no-confidence vote on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Sunday won 49-44, with one abstention.

But the opposition needed a 61-vote majority to bring down the government.

It was the second time this government has failed to muster enough votes to defeat a motion of no-confidence.

The vote was marked by the absence of National Religious Party lawmakers, who continued a boycott over a dispute concerning the appointment of religious-court judges.

"The government's loss [last night] proves that Netanyahu's coalition is disintegrating, and does not have faith in the prime minister or even in the existence of the government," said Labor whip Ra'anan Cohen.

Phone employees sent back to work

JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Israeli labor court ordered thousands of Bezek phone company employees back to work Tuesday.

The weeklong strike disrupted phone service in the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem areas and delayed trading on the Tel Aviv stock exchange.

The Bezek workers struck last week after the announcement that the state-corporations authority had sold a 12.5 percent stake in the phone company to the Merrill Lynch investment bank as part of the firm's privatization.

Workers said they were not consulted on the sale in violation of understandings with the government.

However, Communications Minister Limor Livnat maintained Bezek workers went on strike because they "do not want to deal with competition."

Once-Jewish kids returned to Islam

JERUSALEM (JPS) — Four children whose Jewish mother embraced Islam, married a Muslim and then went back to Judaism have been returned to their father's care to be raised as Muslims.

Israel's High Court of Justice on Monday overturned a Beersheva rabbinical court ruling that the mother, who is now divorced, could raise the children as Jews.

Under halachah (Jewish law), children are Jewish if their mother is Jewish. Under Islamic law, a Muslim father is entitled to automatic custody of his children.