Mideast Report

JERUSALEM (JTA) — President Clinton has again invoked a national security waiver contained in the law that called for the U.S. Embassy to be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by May 31, 1999.

Invoking the waiver Wednesday, which Clinton did for the first time in June, allowed the administration to avoid financial penalties for not making the move. The Clinton administration has resisted implementing the law because it fears such a move would interfere with Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

Rubber bullets fired at Hebron school bus

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli soldiers fired rubber-coated bullets Wednesday at a Palestinian school bus near Hebron and wounded a boy, the army said.

It added that the troops were firing at Palestinian youths in the area who were stoning Israeli cars. Earlier in the day, an Israeli army reservist was lightly hurt by stones thrown at his car near the Al Fawar Palestinian refugee camp near Hebron. He was treated at a nearby army base.

Dybbuk was a hoax, Israeli woman says

JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Israeli woman who allegedly had a dybbuk, or evil spirit, exorcized from her eight months ago said the whole ceremony was a sham, the Israeli daily Ha'aretz reported Wednesday.

Dimona resident Yehudit Sigauker claims that she was pressured into it by activists from the fervently religious Shas movement.

She also asserts that she was forced to sign an agreement that would enable videotapes of the ceremony to be used for commercial and propaganda use. The son of kabbalist Rabbi David Batzri, who performed the exorcism, denied that the ceremony was a fake.

Haifa military school finally admits women

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Haifa military academy has broken a 50-year tradition and agreed to allow women to apply for admission.

The institution's all-male policy was challenged by Lee Wertheim, 17, who appealed to advocacy groups and political figures, including Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh.

Wertheim told Israel Radio she considers attending the military academy the start of an army career she hopes will include the Israel Air Force pilot's course, which also recently opened its doors to women.

Israel, Turkey, U.S. combine naval drills

JERUSALEM (JPS) — Israeli, Turkish and U.S. warships staged a search-and-rescue drill in the Mediterranean last week and laid down the framework for even wider maneuvers in the future.

The two-day exercise, dubbed Reliant Mermaid '99, took place Dec. 15 and 16. It was designed to improve the coordination among the navies for a rapid humanitarian response to maritime emergencies.