Mideast Report

AMMAN (JTA) — Jordan's King Hussein asked Israel for help in 1970 against Palestinian forces threatening to take over parts of his kingdom, according to British government files just made public.

The appeal, made to Israel via British and American intermediaries, was the only time an Arab leader ever asked for military help from the Jewish state.

Israeli intervention proved unnecessary, because Hussein's troops inflicted heavy damage on the Palestinians soon after he sent the request for help.

Knesset favors court after Clinton backs it

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel said it would sign a treaty establishing a permanent International Criminal Court.

Reversing a Cabinet decision earlier Sunday, Israel made the move after President Clinton said the United States would sign the treaty. Israeli officials had voiced concerns that under one provision of the treaty, establishing Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip could be viewed as a war crime.

Prime Minister Ehud Barak announced the change of stance after he received assurances from U.S. officials that the accord would not harm Israeli interests.

Israel gays quietly get a nod toward equality

TEL AVIV (JTA) — The age of consent for homosexual relations in Israel was lowered from 18 to 16, the same as the legal age for heterosexual relations.

The amendment to the law was approved in July, but was not widely reported until recently. The Israeli daily Ha'aretz said the Association for Gays and Lesbians in Israel is seeking to increase public awareness of the change.

Agudah, the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered activist group, was instrumental in lobbying for the reform, and continue to advocate for other legal equalities that pertain to same-sex couples in Israel.

Forget the falafel, add extra gobs of hummus

JERUSALEM (JPS) — Eating hummus, the popular Mideast chickpea spread, can help keep you healthy, according to a new study conducted at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The research indicated the protein in hummus is equivalent in quality to animal proteins. It can also be used as a substitute for soya, and it contains antioxidants, which can lower the risk of heart disease and cancer.