Mideast Report

JERUSALEM (JPS) — Israeli President Ezer Weizman and Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein are denying a rumor that Weizman's lawyers had worked out a deal in which he would resign and the case against him would be closed without a police investigation.

His denial Wednesday comes amid growing calls for Weizman's resignation after he admitted to receiving cash gifts totaling nearly $500,000 from a French millionaire friend.

Jailed Iranian Jews will undergo trial

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The 13 Iranian Jews jailed last year for spying for Israel and the United States will receive a public trial, Iran's intelligence minister said Wednesday.

"The case has been submitted to the judiciary," Ali Yunesi said. "If they are convicted and sentenced to death, then they will be executed. And if they are acquitted, they will be released."

He did not say when the suspects would stand trial.

Are Palestinians erecting a parliament?

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Palestinian Authority is reportedly constructing a parliament building in an Arab suburb of Jerusalem.

Construction at the site in Abu Dis began nearly two years ago, according to the Israeli daily Ha'aretz. Palestinian officials say the building is intended as a cultural center. In recent years, some Israelis have suggested that Abu Dis become the capital of a Palestinian state under a final peace accord.

Yeltsin visits Israel, meets with president

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Former Russian President Boris Yeltsin met with Israeli officials last week during a lunch hosted by his Israeli counterpart.

During the Jan. 7 meeting, Israeli President Ezer Weizman said Russia's relations with the Jewish people were filled "with many wonderful things, but also sorrows."

To prove his point, the Israeli president singled out one luncheon guest, Interior Minister Natan Sharansky, a former dissident who spent nine years in a Soviet jail before being allowed to immigrate to Israel.

Yeltsin, making a three-day visit to the region to mark the first Russian Orthodox Christmas of the new millennium, responded that Russian officials "have put an end" to anti-Semitism.

India group claims it's one of lost tribes

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A group from India, claiming to be descendants of a lost Jewish tribe, is asking Israel to grant citizenship to an additional 100 of them per year.

This week's request from the 3,500-member Shinglung community, which claims to be from the lost tribe of Menashe, comes as Israel continues to struggle with admitting would-be immigrants whose Jewishness is questionable.

About 450 of them have come to Israel over the past decade.