Mideast Report

JERUSALEM (JPS) — Negotiations among striking students, Moshe Leon, director-general of the Prime Minister's Office, and Treasury officials continued Wednesday morning, focusing on a proposal made by Leon Tuesday aimed at "reducing the financial burden" on the students, but not lowering tuition.

However, the students, who are seeking a 50 percent reduction in tuition, continue to reject the proposal which they say only helps about 2,500 poor students, but ignores the others.

Leon's proposal calls for "significantly increasing loans to students this year in exchange for public service by the students." Loans to students will be increased to include up to half of tuition, to be returned when the students begin working, and additional assistance in providing dormitory space for students, a spokesman for the Prime Minister's Office said.

However, he added that there would be no across-the-board reduction of tuition.

Students, meanwhile, continued their hunger strike outside the prime minister's residence to press their demands for a 50 percent tuition cut.

Two Israeli soldiers shot in their vehicle

JERUSALEM (JPS) — Two Israelis were wounded by shots fired at their vehicle near Otniel in the southern Hebron Hills late Tuesday night.

One, whose wounds were described as moderate, was hit in the chest, and the other suffered wounds in the leg. Both were taken to Soroka Hospital in Beersheba.

Yehuda Glick, a resident of Otniel, told Israel Radio that he was watching the election results on television when he heard several bursts of gunfire. He said Israel Defense Force troops were patrolling at the junction of the main highway that leads to Jerusalem, approximately a third of a mile from the entrance to the settlement.

There were conflicting reports as to whether shots were fired from a passing car or whether terrorists had set up an ambush to fire at Israeli vehicles. An IDF spokesman confirmed the attack but was unable to release further details.

Labor party wins in 6 of 7 main cities

TEL AVIV (JPS) — Labor claimed victory in Tuesday's local elections after early exit polls suggested its candidates were winning control of six of the seven major cities. Jerusalem was the exception, as Mayor Ehud Olmert won another term.

Labor's main wins came in Tel Aviv, which voted for Ron Huldai; Beersheba, where Ya'acov Terner ousted Likud incumbent David Bunfeld; and Haifa, where Mayor Amram Mitzna was reelected by a large majority.

Labor incumbents remained in power in Rishon Lezion, Holon and Givatayim, and Labor won in Hadera.

The Likud triumphed in Netanya, Ashdod, Ofakim, Afula, Ramle, Lod, Kiryat Ata and Kiryat Malachi.

In an interesting development in Jerusalem, preliminary results showed religious parties won almost half the city council seats.