Mideast Report

JERUSALEM (JPS) — Chinese President Jiang Zemin began a seven-day visit to Israel on Wednesday.

The visit, the first by a Chinese president, comes at a time when Israel is risking the wrath of American officials by selling China an advanced AWACS radar system. Israeli President Ezer Weizman invited Jiang to visit a year ago when he was in China.

Last week, U.S. Rep. Sonny Callahan (R-Ala.), chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, said he will try to withhold roughly $250 million of the $3 billion in annual U.S. assistance to Israel. The United States fears the sale could give China a strategic advantage in its conflict with Taiwan.

Israeli court backs soldier's extradition

JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Israeli court has ruled that an Israeli soldier could be extradited to Canada to face second-degree murder charges.

Daniel Weiz, 19, is suspected of involvement in the beating death last November of another teenager in a Toronto park.

Israel may send suspect to U.S.

JERUSALEM (JPS) — An Israeli-born citizen, wanted in the United States on suspicion of grand larceny, possession of stolen property and fraud, could become the first Israeli extradited to America.

A Jerusalem District Court judge ruled last week that Sharon Haroush should be sent to the United States to stand trial, and, if convicted, will have to serve his sentence there.

Haroush moved to the United States in 1991 and lived there for seven years. He married an American woman and returned to Israel with his family only after U.S. authorities closed his bank account as a first step in the process leading to his indictment. He had lived in Israel 11 months before the United States sought his extradition.

Israel may construct a new Arab town

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli officials are considering the establishment of a new town for Arab citizens on state-owned land, according to the Israeli daily Ha'aretz.

Meanwhile, Knesset member Ahmed Tibi, an Israeli Arab, said he plans to introduce a bill in the Knesset requiring the equitable distribution of state-owned land to all its citizens.

Except for some Bedouin towns in the Negev, no new Arab towns have been established in Israel since its founding.

Arab students clash at Hebrew University

JERUSALEM (JPS) — Arab students clashed with police Tuesday, while Hebrew University celebrated its 75th anniversary.

Thirteen Arab students were arrested during a violent protest on the Mount Scopus campus. The students were demonstrating for equal rights and against confiscation of land from Arab villages for the Trans-Israel Highway.

The 13 students were released Tuesday evening.

In the struggle between students and police, 10 students and three police officers were injured. Cmdr. Yair Yitzhaki, Jerusalem's police chief, said the students did not have a permit to demonstrate and refused to put down the Palestinian flags they carried.

A group of students who identified themselves as belonging to the right-wing Herut Party arrived on the scene and began shouting "Jewish country" to the Arab students.

Barak approves housing for Golan

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak has approved tourism and housing projects on the Golan Heights, including 200 new housing units in Katzrin.

Cabinet minister Haim Ramon said that in the absence of serious negotiations with Syria, which demands the full return of the Golan, Israel would continue to provide for the area's development.

Cisco to purchase Israeli routing firm

JERUSALEM (JPS) — San Jose-based Cisco, the world's largest provider of networking hardware for the Internet, announced Tuesday it will acquire Herzliya-based Pentacom Ltd. for $118 million worth of stock.

Pentacom designs and manufactures communication boxes for routing communications using Internet Protocol.

The 2-year-old company, which employs 48 people — half of whom are research and development engineers — will relocate to Cisco's own Israel development center, also based in Herzliya.

Pentacom, which started selling its products only this year, had $2.4 million in sales in the first quarter.

Microsoft welcomes Hebrew language portal

JERUSALEM (JPS) — Microsoft Network launched its new Hebrew-language Internet portal Monday in conjunction with the Israeli service provider Internet Gold.

The joint venture partners have invested $1.5 million in the project over the last six months. The Web site can be found at www.msn.co.il/homepage.asp