Mideast Report

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Prime Minister Ehud Barak welcomed a U.S. House subcommittee's decision not to cut aid to Israel to protest its planned sale of an advanced airborne warning system to China.

Israel will receive its full $3 billion annual aid package as a lump sum when the U.S. fiscal year starts in October. Barak added that he remains sensitive to U.S. concerns regarding the sale, led by House Appropriations chairman Sonny Callahan (R-Ala.), which could potentially upset the strategic balance between China and Taiwan, or endanger American interests.

Callahan had threatened to cut $250 million from the package and had argued against early disbursal of the funds. During what one observer described as an "ugly" debate preceding the vote, Callahan accused the AIPAC of "twisting arms" to ensure Israel gets the aid.

Three-way summit still hangs in air

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Secretary of State Madeleine Albright plans to visit the Middle East in the coming days to determine whether Israel and the Palestinian Authority are ready for a summit to finalize an outline of a final peace deal.

The announcement of the U.S. official's trip followed a round of intensive talks in Washington, where the two sides were reported to have made no significant progress, leading some Israeli defense officials to remark this week that the absence of progress could lead to Palestinian violence.

Meanwhile, 30 influential U.S. Jewish leaders signed a statement backing Israeli Interior Minister Natan Sharansky's recent public warning against Israel's making one-sided concessions to the Palestinians. The signers included leaders of such groups as the Anti-Defamation League, AIPAC and the Zionist Organization of America.

Israelis have reason to be glued to tube

JERUSALEM (JPS) — Israel's first and so-far only digital broadcasting satellite operator, YES, has signed a multi-year deal with the Turner Broadcasting System for the rights to broadcast CNN International, the Cartoon Network and Turner Classic Movies.

Under the terms of the deal, which have not been disclosed, the classic movies will be subtitled in Hebrew. The new channels are expected to reach tens of thousands of homes across Israel.

Households will also be able to enjoy more sports and athletic events. The U.S.-based sports network ESPN is launching a 24-hour sports station in Israel. It will feature international events such as qualifying matches for soccer's World Cup, as well as baseball, football, college basketball and hockey games from North America.

Violence prevalent, school study reveals

JERUSALEM (JTA) — One-third of Israel's elementary and middle school students, and one-quarter of high school students, consider violence a big or very big problem in their schools, according to a report just released by Hebrew University.

Many Arab and Jewish students said that they had seen a peer with a knife, although significantly more Arabs than Jews reported being personally threatened with a knife at school, according to the University of Michigan, which co-conducted the research.

The researchers, who surveyed 16,000 students between grades 4 through 11 in 240 schools, found that 10 percent of students had brought weapons (guns, knifes, clubs, etc.) to school in the month before the study.

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