Mideast Report

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JERUSALEM (JPS) — A small amount of the male-potency drug Viagra can stop cut flowers from wilting and double the shelf-life of fruit and vegetables, say researchers at Bar-Ilan University and the University of Newcastle in Australia.

Scientists have already patented a safe, cheap process for increasing the shelf-life of produce and flowers based on nitric oxide, an environmental pollutant that in small quantities saves premature babies.

Professor Ya'acov Leshem, a Bar-Ilan plant researcher, and Professor Ron Wills of Australia, discovered that Viagra also promotes plant freshness by using a similar biological mechanism as nitric oxide.

Leshem said it isn't known what effect Viagra will have on people or the environment if absorbed by fruits and vegetables.

"Whether ingesting small amounts of Viagra from food could affect male potency has yet to be seen."

Palestinian convicted in murder of rabbi

JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Israeli military court has convicted a Palestinian from Hebron of murdering and wounding Israelis in terrorist attacks last year in Hebron and Beersheva.

Salem Sarsour was found guilty Wednesday of last week of killing Rabbi Shlomo Ra'anan in the Jewish quarter of Hebron last year and of wounding Israelis in two grenade attacks in Hebron and the southern town of Beersheva.

Longest-held detainee released from jail

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel's High Court of Justice ruled Sunday that the longest-held Palestinian detainee should be released after being held nearly six years without trial.

Osama Barham, now 35, was arrested in 1993 for membership in the militant Islamic Jihad. Under the terms for his release, Barham promised not to use violence against Israel.

Meanwhile, Israel's new justice minister plans to restrict the practice of jailing Arab prisoners without bringing charges against them.

Administrative detentions, which have been denounced by human rights groups, should be used "only in cases of real danger" to the Jewish state, Yossi Beilin told Israel Army Radio on Monday.

Mutual fund invests in Israel's top 35

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A mutual fund has been launched that will invest in the 35 largest Israeli companies that trade in Tel Aviv and Wall Street.

Information about the no-load AMIDEX 35 Mutual Fund is available online at www.amidex.com

Intel expects plant to export $1 billion

JERUSALEM (JPS) — Intel expects to produce $1 billion worth of exports annually from its new Kiryat Gat plant, said Intel President and CEO Craig Barrett at the recent opening ceremony.

That figure would be approximately one-sixth of all of Israel's electronics-industry exports in today's terms.

The plant will produce the world's thinnest microprocessors — 0.18 microns — for processors and Internet infrastructures. Production at the plant will begin in August.

Turkey offers water to parched Israel

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli officials are welcoming a Turkish offer to sell the Jewish state water to help solve chronic shortages.

During a visit to Israel last week, Turkish President Suleyman Demirel offered to supply the Jewish state with 6 billion cubic feet of water a year.