Shorts: Mideast

Syria to buy apples from Golan Heights

jerusalem (jta) | Syria said it would buy apples grown by Arab farmers in Israel’s Golan Heights.

It’s believed that the purchase of 10,000 apples from Arab farmers would represent the first time Syria has bought goods produced in the Golan, which Israel annexed after capturing the strategic plateau from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War. Syria said the move, which it called a one-time purchase, would take place because of the “harsh economic conditions” in the Golan. Israel said the move was a positive step.

Technion receives $26 million for nanotechnology

haifa | The American Technion Society has received a $26 million commitment from the New Jersey-based Russell Berrie Foundation for the establishment of a nanotechnology institute at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, the ATS announced Monday, Feb. 7.

The gift, along with $26 million from the Israel Ministry of Industry and Trade, $20 million already raised by ATS and the Israel Technion Society, and $16 million Technion has pledged to raise from private sources over the next five years, will bring the total for the new institute to $88 million.

Shalom vs. Sharon?

jerusalem (jta) | Israel’s foreign minister called for a referendum on the Gaza withdrawal plan.

“To get these tough decisions passed, we need national consensus,” Silvan Shalom told Channel Two television, referring to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and four West Bank settlements this summer. “We face a very grave internal struggle.”

Polls show that most Israelis support Sharon’s withdrawal plan, but he has resisted calls for a plebiscite, as it would require changing the nation’s Basic Laws.