Mideast Report

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Palestinian Authority officials are reportedly exploring the possibility of investing in the Tel Aviv stock market.

According to the Israeli daily Ha'aretz, officials have already contacted Israeli brokerage houses, seeking an initial investment of approximately $17 million.

It was unclear whether the investors represented Palestinian Authority officials or private business interests in the territories.

Either way, sources involved in the contacts said that all relevant authorities had approved the investments.

Several months ago, Ha'aretz reported that the Palestinian Authority maintained an account in a Tel Aviv bank, where funds channeled by Israel to the self-rule authority under the signed economic accords were deposited.

Palestinian police on terrorism list

JERUSALEM (JPS) — Israel army Maj.-Gen. Uzi Dayan said recently that the army has compiled a list of Palestinian policemen who had participated in, or were connected with, planning attacks against Israeli troops since last September.

Dayan said Israeli troops have orders to arrest the Palestinian policemen on the list if they are encountered at any Israeli roadblocks or at the border.

Palestinian officials are aware of the list, Dayan said, adding that if they refuse to deal with the suspects, Israel would instead.

Since the beginning of the year, security forces have arrested approximately 700 Palestinians, some 500 of whom are affiliated with Hamas, 60 with Fatah, 30 with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and 50 with the Islamic Jihad. The remainder are unaffiliated, he said.

Dayan said that Palestinian policemen involved in attacks against Israelis around Nablus in the West Bank acted on orders from high-ranking Palestinian Police officers.

Illegal homes cover eastern Jerusalem

JERUSALEM (JPS) — More than 2,600 structures were built illegally in Arab eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods during the past two to three years, according to a Jerusalem Municipality report obtained by the Jerusalem Post.

In 1996, the municipality opened files on 300 illegal buildings and estimates a similar number by the end of 1997.

The report lists dozens and in some cases hundreds of illegal building sites in the neighborhoods of Issawiya, Silwan, Kafr Akab, Beit Hanina, Shuafat, A-Tur, Umm Tuba, Sur Bahir, Abu Tor, and in the Old City and its environs.

Telecommuting up in Israeli workforce

TEL AVIV (JPS) — In two decades, many Israelis will be among the 40 percent of the world's workforce — 200 million people — who will work from home on a computer and modem.

That's according to a new Israeli group aimed at promoting telecommuting. The group is organizing a December conference, Internet site and journal.

The association argues that working from home saves energy and reduces road traffic, while at the same time it encourages population dispersion to peripheral areas and raises the standard of living in outlying communities.

Israelis develop laser to help fertilization

JERUSALEM (JPS) — Israeli fertility specialists have produced the first babies in the world conceived by drilling a hole in the ovum with an excimer laser, allowing easier implantation in the uterus.

The two babies, a boy and a girl, were born two months ago, and 12 more pregnancies made possible by this "assisted hatching" technique are now in progress.

The technique was developed over the past eight years by Professor Neri Laufer, chief of gynecology and obstetrics at Hadassah-University Hospital on Jerusalem's Mount Scopus and head of its in vitro fertilization unit, with help from Professor Aaron Lewis, head of Hadassah's laser department, and advice from Hadassah Medical Organization director-general, Professor Shmuel Penchas.

The ova of older women have thicker shells, so it's more difficult for sperm to penetrate and for the fertilized egg to secure itself to the wall of the womb. Until now, sperm have been "shot" into ova and then implanted in the uterus, and acids have been used to dissolve a tiny spot on the shell of the ovum so that the embryo can escape.

Hadassah's use of a "clean" excimer laser to drill the hole avoids the potential damage to the embryo by the chemicals and produces an opening with an exact width, producing a biochemical effect that helps the embryo "hatch" and take root.