Mideast Report

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JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Jewish state has "a lot of work to do" in overcoming negative stereotypes Israelis have about Palestinians, Israel's minister of education asserts.

"Those stereotypes play a very, very negative role," Yossi Sarid was quoted as saying in the Aug. 30 international edition of Newsweek

"This is my first task to try and change the stereotypes. It's not very easy. We are talking about programs of many, many years," he added.

Sarid also said he'll work closely with Palestinian educators to combat anti-Israeli prejudice in their classrooms.

Survivors in Israel protest benefit cuts

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Holocaust survivors in Israel are protesting a decision to reduce their insurance benefits because Germany is paying them more money.

Israel's National Insurance Institute recently reduced the payments.

The move occured because the payments from Germany, which equal $200 a month, placed many survivors above the $570 monthly ceiling that would enable them to receive benefits.

Israel's Labor and Social Affairs Minister, Eli Suissa, said he supported restoring the survivors' benefits.

Breakaway group makes up with Arafat

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat and the leader of a breakaway Palestinian group have agreed to work for a Palestinian state according to Israel's June 1967 borders.

The statement issued Monday by Arafat and Nayef Hawatmeh, the leader of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, also calls for a Palestinian capital in eastern Jerusalem and for the return of Palestinian refugees.

In making the statement, the two agreed to set aside their differences over the Oslo accords.

The reconciliation is being viewed as an attempt to build Palestinian unity before the start of final-status talks between Israel and the Palestinians that are set to begin soon.

Attempted stabbing closes border crossing

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A crossing point between Jordan and the West Bank was closed for several hours Sunday after a Palestinian attempted to stab an Israeli security guard.

The guard was unharmed, and the Palestinian was detained after Israeli guards at the crossing fired in the air.

Under the Israeli-Palestinian peace accords, Israel has overall security responsibility for the international Allenby Crossing, while Palestinian police are also stationed there.

2 Islamic militants killed in Lebanon

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Two Israeli soldiers on an Israeli Army outpost in Israel's security zone in southern Lebanon were wounded in clashes with Hezbollah fighters over the past week.

Also over the weekend, two members of the Islamic fundamentalist group were killed by Israeli airstrikes.

German sentenced for aiding Hezbollah

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A German convicted in an Israeli court of helping the militant Islamic group Hezbollah was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

The mother of Stephan Smyrek, 27, who had traveled to Israel for the verdict, burst into tears after hearing the sentence on Thursday of last week and said her son intended to appeal.

Elderly Palestinian goes into hiding

JERUSALEM (JTA) — An 83-year-old Palestinian from eastern Jerusalem went into hiding recently after learning police were seeking his arrest for failing to pay fines issued for illegal construction.

Ahmed Hamadan owes authorities more than $60,000 for building another story onto his house without permits.

Israel police acknowledged they were uncomfortable chasing after Hamadan and called on his family to bring him in.