Mideast Report

JERUSALEM (JPS) — Labor MK Moshe Shahal ended a 27-year parliamentary career on Wednesday of last week with a series of send-offs in the Knesset, the body's Speaker's office and among his party colleagues.

He is scheduled to be replaced by Taiba Mayor Rafik Haj-Yihye, who is next on the Labor list.

Although the resignation was not a surprise, it was unusual enough to allow MKs to forget squabbling for a while and to unite in praise for the long-term parliamentarian.

Speaker Dan Tichon accepted the letter of resignation by expressing regret and recalling when the young Shahal had first come to the Knesset. He paid tribute to Shahal's long and fruitful career.

Shahal, a lawyer by profession, had served as energy, communications and police ministers in previous governments.

Shahal said he had always promised to leave at a time people were asking him to stay "and not the other way around."

He also had a parting wish. "One day, when I am watching Channel 33 [which broadcasts live from the Knesset], I hope and pray to see the Syrian president and Lebanese president standing at this podium…[and] to see your hands outstretched to endorse the final arrangements with the Palestinians," he said.

Iraq monitors Israel by using the Internet

JERUSALEM (JPS) — Using an Internet monitoring program that he developed, an Israeli scientist found that Iraqi government sites intensely monitored events in Israel during the recent Gulf crisis, downloading the Jerusalem Post daily.

According to Dr. Joseph Hershko, his program, called Scout, can be set to monitor users according to topics or geographic areas.

Hershko, a lecturer and scientist at Center for Technological Education in Holon, said most of the 200 sites linked with Iraq are based in Lebanon.

He added that Iraqi Internet sites were a base for Iraqi disinformation, but their operators also seek information from various sites on the Internet.

Using his Scout program, Hershko said he was able to draw up a path of their actions. One site is IraqNet, based in Lebanon, which he claimed is a front for Saddam Hussein's military apparatus.

"They are interested in Israeli public opinion," Hershko said. "During the gulf crisis they were downloading the Jerusalem Post and Globes daily," Hershko said.

He said from his monitoring, it appeared they were putting together profiles of top economic figures in the country.

Morocco bars Israeli cross-country athletes

JERUSALEM (JPS) — Israel's national cross-country team returned home Sunday after Morocco barred it from competing in the World Cross Country Championship by refusing to grant team members visas.

Israeli officials bitterly denounced Morocco's refusal to grant the visas.

"International ties by means of sports are a basic element in the understanding that exists between nations," officials said. "Their conversion into a political issue certainly does not advance them."

For most of last week, the athletes waited in vain in Paris for the visas to be granted. Finally, they were instructed to fly back to Israel after the Moroccan authorities confirmed that they would not be issued.

The athletes were notified on Friday of last week that Morocco's decision to bar them was final, the officials said.

The International Amateur Athletic Federation called the Moroccan decision "very disappointing. When we accepted Morocco's candidacy to stage the games we received documents, one signed by the Moroccan Sports Ministry, saying the government would act with no restrictions [regarding visas]," IAAF head Primo Nebiolo told a news conference in Marrakech.

Nebiolo said the IAAF had contacted the Federation of Moroccan Athletics to protest.

Man sues own wife for smoking at home

TEL AVIV (JPS) — A man suffering from a serious lung disease has filed a $1.4 million suit in the Tel Aviv Family Court against his wife for exposing him to tobacco smoke for more than a decade.

The 40-year-old man, whose name was barred from publication, alleges that his illness is due to the large amounts of cigarette smoke he was exposed to at home. He claims that he was forced to leave his home out of fear that his health would continue to deteriorate if he continued living there. The couple is in the middle of divorce proceedings.

The man, who was determined 100 percent disabled four years ago, is currently waiting for a lung transplant in the United States.

According to the man's petition, his wife smokes about 70 cigarettes a day. Before they were married, some 13 years ago, he asked her to refrain from smoking near him. Instead, shortly after they were married, she refused to be considerate of his health and even would "blow smoke towards him."

The wife has not yet filed a statement of defense.