Mideast Report

JERUSALEM (JPS) — Security forces were beefed up in Jerusalem following a bomb explosion on Thursday of last week outside the Hebrew University's Mount Scopus campus.

A soldier waiting for a bus suffered moderate injuries to the head. Amir Davidian, 20, of Jerusalem was the only person at the bus stop, which is also a popular hitchhiking station for soldiers.

The small bomb, which was placed in a plastic container at the bus stop across from the university's Rothberg School for Overseas Students, exploded at 8 a.m.

The bomb could have done far greater damage if it was set off half an hour later. The international school's courses begin at 8:30 a.m., and many students would have been in the area.

No group has claimed responsibility for the incident.

Book: Israel developed nuclear arms in 1967

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel quickly developed nuclear weapons on the eve of the 1967 Six-Day War, according to a new book.

But as described in "Israel and the Bomb," which examines Israel's nuclear development during the 1950s and 1960s, other Israeli officials rejected Shimon Peres' suggestion at the time that the Jewish state conduct a test in order to demonstrate its nuclear capability.

Top negotiator quits, but Arafat says no

JERUSALEM (JPS) — Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat has rejected Saeb Erekat's request to quit his post as chief negotiator in talks with Israel, Palestinian sources said last week.

At the same time, Erekat, who is also the Palestinian Authority's Minister of Local Government, will not be included in upcoming high-level Israeli-Palestinian meetings, they added.

The sources said Erekat was angered by the back-channel talks being conducted by Palestinian Legislative Council speaker Ahmed Qurei with Israeli officials.

Erekat would not comment on his letter of resignation. But Palestinian Authority officials rejected the suggestion that Qurei's prominence signaled a lack of confidence in Erekat on Arafat's part.

Northern Israelis protest tax proposal

JERUSALEM (JPS) — Thousands of residents who live near the Lebanon border closed junctions across the length of the northern border road Sunday to protest planned cutbacks in benefits and incentives.

Demonstrators burned tires and formed human barricades at junctions from Nahariya along the coast to Sassa in the central region, as well as at the intersection on the main road leading to and from Kiryat Shmona.

"They only remember us when Katyusha rockets are fired at our communities, and then all the politicians come," said one of the demonstrators. "We want to say clearly that we are fed up."

Another protester said the demonstration was not just against plans by Finance Minister Ya'acov Ne'eman to cut tax benefits, which range from 15 percent for residents of most towns and villages in the confrontation line area, to up to 20 percent in Kiryat Shmona.

Municipal services in towns and villages throughout the region were shut down and all schools and kindergartens were closed, except in Kiryat Shmona, which did not join in the 24-hour warning strike called by the forum of leaders from communities along the border.

Ben & Jerry's shut sits Golan pipeline

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Ben & Jerry's has canceled a contract with an Israeli mineral water company in the Golan Heights for supplying water for its sherbet.

The move, announced last week by the American ice cream manufacturer, came after pressure from several U.S.-based groups.

The Zionist Organization of America condemned the decision, which it called "endorsing the historical revisionism of Arab propagandists."

Defense chief slams proposal to hit Iran

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai has lashed out at a proposal that his country launch a pre-emptive military strike against Iran.

The proposal was made Sunday by Knesset member Ephraim Sneh, health minister in the former Labor government, after Iran made its first public display of its Shahab-3 missile during a military parade last Friday.

In July, Iran successfully tested the medium-range missile, which is capable of hitting targets in Israel, Saudi Arabia and most of Turkey. The missile, with a range of 800 miles, is for defensive purposes only, Iranian officials said at the time.

Sneh, who called Iranian leaders "insane," said a pre-emptive strike might be necessary because international efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring missile technology and developing a nuclear capability had failed.