Mideast Report

JERUSALEM (JPS) — Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai Tuesday called on Syria to resume peace talks, but he denied softening his position on an Israel Defense Force withdrawal from the Golan Heights.

Earlier this week, Mordechai created confusion when a remark he made to the German news magazine Focus was widely interpreted as meaning that for full peace, Syria would get back all of the Golan.

But during a visit to an IDF stronghold in the eastern sector of the security zone Tuesday, Mordechai said he had not been quoted accurately by the magazine.

"I have reiterated that the Golan Heights is vital to the defense of the north. I have also reiterated that we are prepared any day to resume negotiations with the Syrians."

Mordechai added there were no signs at this stage that the Syrians were prepared to resume negotiations.

Students sit shiva 24 hours a day at Joseph's Tomb, causing alarm

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Palestinian Authority has imposed a virtual siege at a yeshiva established at Joseph's Tomb in Nablus, Israeli officials are charging.

The West Bank standoff began when Israeli authorities allowed yeshiva students to sit shiva around the clock for two recently slain settlers who attended the school.

Although two of the students left Tuesday, 28 others remained. The students apparently feared that if they left the compound, no one would be allowed to take their place.

Palestinian officials are concerned that the students will turn the tomb into a permanent settlement if they are allowed to remain in the compound 24 hours a day.

Sewage pipe breaks at Eilat, forcing tourists off the beaches

JERUSALEM (JPS) — Beaches in Eilat remained closed Tuesday after a broken pipeline spewed raw sewage into the sea, raising E. coli bacteria to 50 times the allowed level.

Large amounts of sewage flowed into the sea after the main pipeline broke Saturday and the Health Ministry on Monday ordered most of the beaches closed for the first time in the resort's history.

The ministry said sewage flow, due to the collapse of a pipe, was halted two days ago when the municipality replaced the pipe, but the contamination will take some time to clean up.

The sewage sent tourists scampering for hotel pools after spilling onto the city's main thoroughfare, a tourism plaza, the local airport and into the sea.

Eilat Mayor Gabi Kadosh warned that the sewage was scaring away tourists, most of whom are Israelis at this time of the year.

Apart from endangering public health and tourism, the flow of sewage into the waters off Eilat is likely to cause lasting damage to the corals.

Barriers planned for Green Line to hinder rash of car robberies

JERUSALEM (JPS) — In an attempt to reduce car thefts, Israel's security cabinet Sunday adopted a proposal by Internal Security Minister Avigdor Kahalani to erect obstacles along some 50 miles of the Green Line

The obstacles would not run in an unbroken line, apparently because ministers thought that would be perceived as establishing a border along the Green Line.

A similar proposal was made to the Labor government by the previous internal security minister, Moshe Shahal.

The Green Line stretches along some 200 miles, although parts of it have natural obstacles hindering the movement of vehicles.

Among the new obstacles being considered are boulders, ditches, security barriers and unspecified "technological means."

Kahalani also demanded an additional 2,000 soldiers to beef up patrols in the area.