Mideast Report

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TEL AVIV (JPS) — Israeli singer David Broza was released on $85,000 bail Tuesday after being charged with tax evasion.

Broza complained that he and his accountant were in the midst of negotiations with auditors when the criminal charges were launched.

Tax officials say the 42-year-old Broza owes $7,000 on earnings of some $28,000 while abroad.

Senior Inspector Baruch Yitzhaki alleged that Broza had deliberately failed to accurately report his income.

Toll may be imposed to enter Israel cities

JERUSALEM (JPS) — The government is considering charging a toll on all private vehicles entering Israel's three major cities, based on a report presented to the Cabinet Sunday by Treasury officials.

As part of the plans for structural changes in the economy, senior Treasury officials asked ministers to approve a series of measures to reduce traffic congestion in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa.

To discuss the toll proposal in more detail Finance Minister Ya'acov Ne'eman asked the Cabinet to agree to the immediate establishment of an interministerial committee, which will report back before June 1.

Zealots block access to the Temple Mount

JERUSALEM (JPS) — Some 50 members of the Temple Mount Faithful observed Tisha B'Av Tuesday by attempting to enter and pray on the Temple Mount. When repulsed by police, the group staged a sit-in and prayer session, blocking the western entrance to the Mount for almost three hours.

"The agents of the murderer [Yasser] Arafat control the Temple Mount and want to take Jerusalem from the Jewish people," said Gershon Salomon, the group's leader.

Accompanying the group of approximately 100 was Yehuda Etzion, who is barred from the Mount following several recent arrests for violating police regulations on prayer there.

Members of the group ignored warnings from police and the Chief Rabbinical Council, which has forbidden Jews from praying in the area. They also disregarded Palestinians who declared that Jewish attempts to pray on the Temple Mount would be met with violence.

Israel demolishing illegal Arab homes

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Jerusalem municipality has demolished five illegally built Arab structures in an eastern Jerusalem refugee camp.

During Wednesday's demolitions, camp residents threw stones, lightly injuring a border policeman. In the days after two terrorists carried out a July 30 suicide attack in Jerusalem, killing 14 Israelis, Israeli officials have carried out numerous demolitions of what they said were illegally built Arab homes.

Israeli officials were scheduled to carry out three more orders, but one order was suspended after an Arab family whose son was wounded in the July 30 attack petitioned a court to halt the demolition.

Palestinian officials have charged that the demolitions are an attempt by Israel to change facts on the ground prior to final-status discussions between the two sides.

Israel team wins big at math olympics

JERUSALEM (JPS) — All six team members representing Israel in last week's International Mathematics Olympics in Argentina have returned with medallions.

Israel's delegation of high school pupils took 22nd place out of 82 countries, and it was the first time each of the Israeli contestants had received an award.

Shai Giron, a member of the mathematics department at the Haifa Technion who headed the delegation and trained the teenagers, said that only 16 other national delegations received a medallion for each of its members. China won the competition, followed by Hungary and Iran.

Israel and Vietnam sign agricultural pact

JERUSALEM (JPS) — Israel and Vietnam this week signed an agricultural agreement during Agriculture Minister Rafael Eitan's visit to Ho Chi Minh City, the ministry announced.

As part of the deal, Israel will donate $50 million for the creation of a joint research team on fruit tree development and a similar amount for the establishment of a 2.5-acre model vegetable production plant, including a nursery, tomato-growing unit and a sorting and packing area.

The ministry said it hopes Vietnam will become a transit country for Israeli agricultural exports to Asia.