Mideast Report

JERUSALEM (JTS) Shas Chairman Eli Yishai last night approved an agreement with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon paving the way for his party to rejoin the government.

The deal calls for Shas to support the government's emergency economic plan in its final readings in the Knesset next week and all future cabinet decisions. In return, Finance Ministry officials will negotiate with Shas changes in the plan that will be incorporated by the ad hoc Knesset committee on the plan, which was to hold its first meeting yesterday.

In an address to the First World Congress of Moroccan Jewry in Jerusalem last night, Sharon directly addressed former Shas ministers in the audience, saying "I hope they will soon return," to the applause of the large crowd.

Israel launches Ofek-5 spy satellite

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel successfully launched a spy satellite. The Ofek-5 spy satellite was launched Tuesday on an Israeli-made rocket from the Palmahim base in the center of the country.

The satellite again gives Israel early-warning capabilities, which ended after the Ofek-3 satellite went out of use more than a year ago. The satellite will orbit about 300 miles above the earth and will be capable of discerning objects as small as a yard in length.

The first images are expected to start transmitting in about two weeks following tests of the satellite's operating systems.