Shorts: Mideast

Hamas ups ante in Shalit talks

Differences are widening between Hamas and Egypt over the release of Gilad Shalit.

According to multiple reports in the Israeli media in recent days, Egypt-ian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman has asked Hamas to stop obstructing the deal. Suleiman is leading negotiations for the release of the Israeli soldier captured in a 2006 cross-border raid.

Hamas reportedly keeps upping the ante, wanting Israel to include senior terrorists among the 1,000 Palestinian prisoners to be exchanged in the deal. Hamas also is demanding that Egypt reopen its border with Gaza. Egypt shut down the border early this year to stop arms smuggling into Gaza. — jta

Israel approves next prisoner release

Israel’s Cabinet approved the release of 200 jailed Fatah members as a gesture to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his Cabinet voted last week in favor of Israel’s latest amnesty for prisoners linked to Fatah.

The prisoners, who are expected to go free Monday, Aug. 25, include two terrorists jailed for serious attacks on Israelis before the 1993 Oslo interim peace accords.

Hamas, which is locked in a power struggle with Fatah and opposes Abbas’ negotiations with Olmert, denounced the planned amnesty as a bid by Israel to “sow division” among Palestinians. — jta

Israel to be part of U.S. missile defense

Israel and the United States reportedly have closed a deal to incorporate Israel into the U.S. missile defense system.

The deal, reported this week in Defense News and Ha’aretz, would station U.S. military personnel permanently in Israel for the first time. The personnel would control X-Band radars. The radars would expand Israel’s missile detection capability from 600 to 1,300 miles and effectively give Israel early warning of any potential Iran strike.

Ha’aretz said the system could be installed as early as this autumn. Ehud Barak, the Israeli defense minister, said the system, which relies in part on satellites that are in fixed orbit over Iran, can notify Israel of a missile launch within 90 seconds. — jta

Technion to teach business courses in English only

Technion-Israel Institute of Technology will teach its business courses in English only beginning next year.

The decision by the Haifa school to ditch the Hebrew-language MBA classes was defended as an effort to keep business students competitive in an English-dominated world.

“We reached the conclusion that if we continued to train our students by teaching in Hebrew, we would be placing them in an inferior starting position, given the conditions of the global competition,” said professor Boaz Golany, dean of industrial engineering and management. — jta