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Israeline — Monday, April 7, 2003 —


** Sharon Promises the Cabinet a Debate on Road Map Plan
** Suicide Attack Thwarted; Islamic Jihad Terrorists Arrested
** Israeli Researchers Find Clue to Breast Cancer Treatment
** More Israeli Food Products Sold in American and European Stores
** Other News in Brief
** Eco & Hi-Tech Briefs


Sharon Promises the Cabinet a Debate on Road Map Plan
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s aide, Dov Weisglass, is slated to travel to Washington and present to the US administration Israel’s reservations to the Quartet’s "road map" for Middle East peace, HA’ARETZ reported. Sharon said that the reservations include the fact that no concessions on matters of security will be made. Addressing the cabinet on Sunday, Sharon said Government members would soon hold a comprehensive discussion on Israel’s preparations for the road map plan. He was responding to calls by several ministers who said that in view of the importance of the issue, it would be imperative for the cabinet to discuss the road map’s content.

Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said today that Israel would not cave in to pressure to offer concessions to the Palestinians without seeing a cessation of terrorism and incitement against Israel. "There shall not be two parallel tracks, of terrorism alongside negotiations," Shalom said. "We won’t cave in to pressure to give to the Palestinians without them doing their share."

Shalom also said that newly chosen Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas would find in Israel a "ready partner for peace" if he cracked down on terrorism.

Meanwhile, President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair are meeting today for the third time in a month to discuss the war in Iraq, as well as the peace initiatives in the Middle East and Northern Ireland. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said the issue of the road map would be on the agenda but that its text would not be released.


Suicide Attack Thwarted; Islamic Jihad Terrorists Arrested
Israel Defense Forces troops operating in the Jordan Valley arrested today a Palestinian terrorist from the Hamas who planned to carry out a homicide bombing attack in Israel, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Soldiers of an armored reconnaissance unit arrested Muhammed Asad in Kfar Ein Bida after receiving intelligence information regarding his intentions.

According to HA’ARETZ, IDF paratroopers arrested five senior operatives of the Islamic Jihad early this morning in the Balata refugee camp outside Nablus. Rifles and explosive devices were found in the apartment where the five were hiding. Troops blew up the apartment after completing the search. Elsewhere in the West Bank, the IDF arrested 11 additional terror suspects during nightime operations. One of those arrested was Masalmeh Thabet, a Tulkarem Fatah activist suspected of involvement in the murder of two Israelis restaurateurs in 2001.

Meanwhile, Issawiya resident Hussein Darbas, 20, was sentenced today to 25 years imprison on five counts of attempted murder. Darbas, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, fired several times at buses on the Jerusalem-Ma’aleh Adumim road and tried to attack a Jewish couple in the parking lot of the Hebrew University’s Mount Scopus campus.

No one was injured in any of these incidents.

In other news, IDF soldiers found the body of a Palestinian, armed with a rifle, near the fence of the Netzarim settlement in the Gaza Strip this morning. The man was shot during the night by troops guarding the settlement. In a separate incident, an IDF soldier was lightly wounded when Palestinians opened fire on troops stationed in the southern Gaza Strip.


Israeli Researchers Find Clue to Breast Cancer Treatment
In an important medical research breakthrough, Israeli biologists have demonstrated that a specific protein causes breast cancer cells to invade other tissues and acquire properties that are characteristic of metastatic tumor cells, ISRAEL21C reported. They hope that chemicals that block or inhibit this protein may be developed in the near future and be used as treatment for preventing the spread of breast cancer.

Metastatic tumor cells are the most dangerous and life-threatening type, spreading rapidly to other organs. When tumors metastasize, they can no longer be cured by surgery alone and generally kill the patient rapidly. It has been known that invasive tumor cells secrete enzymes that dissolve the barriers that separate one type of tissue from another. An important constituent of these barriers is collagen fibers, yet in breast cancer tumors that are about to metastasize produce large amounts of collagen. The research focused on looking at what causes the tumor to both create collagen, and then burst through it into other tissues. Researchers have previously discovered several proteins that promote metastasis, but none of them caused breast cancer tumors to behave the way they do in patients – creating fibrotic lumps while metastasizing. The link between these two apparently contradictory processes could not be found. However, the new work shows that the LOR-1 protein does produce just that combination of effects – both generating collagen and causing the tumor to metastasize.

The protein was identified by a team led by Gera Neufeld of the Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, and by Michal Neeman of the Department of Biological Regulation at the Weizman Institute of Science in Rehovot, and their work was published in the April 1 issue of Cancer Research. The researchers are now focusing on developing an agent that will inhibit the production of LOR-1. If such an inhibitor can prevent breast cancers from metastasizing, surgical removal of the tumors should have a better chance of success than is the case at present.


More Israeli Food Products Sold in American and European Stores
More and more Israeli food products are being sold in American and European stores, ISRAEL21C reported. Tivol, Elite, Olivia, Gad Cheeses, Tzabar Salads and Recanati vineyards are among the food companies selling impressive quantities of their products overseas. Surprisingly, not only are they not confined to the kosher aisle, but they also appear in some of the most and prestigious gourmet stores. The company ‘Ethnic Delights’ which distributes the sauces produced by the Olivia company, owned by Tnuva, took first place in the category of the best spreads and sauces in Europe. Tnuva is now about to enter the US market by acquiring 50 percent of a US fresh foods importer. Its US subsidiary will be based in New York and Los Angeles and the company plans to focus on the ethnic foods market at first. Tivol, which makes meat substitute products such as vegetable and soy patties, is also successful overseas, due to its appeal to the health food sector.

Israeli wines continue to sell well overseas and have won prizes in Japan, France, the United States and Italy. The veteran company Wissotsky tea is sold in the US, Russia and England. Tsabar Salads has managed to penetrate major chains in Belgium, England, Holland and France, with its Humus Middle Eastern spreads.

The Elite conglomerate is actively promoting the boutique Israeli chocolate company, Max Brenner, it acquired a year ago. Its overseas market has been broadened and Elite is moving into Singapore and Australia, and the company is even contemplating a move onto the turf of the top chocolate-makers in the world: Belgium and Switzerland.

For those who like to eat out, successful Israeli restaurants are looking overseas as well. The kosher gourmet Bruno restaurant in Tel Aviv’s Azrieli Towers will soon open a sister branch in Manhattan. And Arcaffee, whose popularity contributed to the downfall of Starbucks in Israel, is also planning to move into the Big Apple.


Other News in Brief

* Minister of Finance Binyamin Netanyahu called on the Histadrut to "take responsibility and come back to negotiations" after two separate rounds of talks on Sunday between the two sides were unable to head off a nationwide public-sector strike threatened to begin Wednesday, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Meanwhile, the Histadrut is continuing its preparations for the general strike, with the labor federation’s Trade Unions Division boss Shlomo Shani saying last night that the strike was on "as long as we aren’t convinced that Netanyahu has dropped his plan to legislate the government’s economic program." However, the labor federation decided to form a team to examine Netanyahu’s proposal that the strike be delayed for at least a week to enable treasury and Histadrut teams to continue their negotiations.

* Israel expects a new wave of immigrants to arrive in Israel from France after more than 2000 families participated in the Aliyah fair that took place on Sunday in Paris, YEDIOT AHARONOT reported. Among those who expressed interest in immigrating to Israel were people from both religious and secular background. One of the reasons often cited for considering Aliyah is the growing sense of anti-Semitism in France.

* The Ministry of Health presented data on Sunday showing that the average Israeli woman has 2.8 children, a fertility rate 75 percent higher than for most developed countries in the world, YEDIOT AHARONOT reported. The average fertility rate in the Western world, calculated using data from 42 countries, reaches 1.6 children per woman.


Eco & Hi-Tech Briefs

* Five Israeli firms made Forbes magazine’s list of the 50 most active venture capital funds in the world – Jerusalem Venture Partners, Apax Israel, Vertex Israel, Benchmark Israel and Walden International, HA’ARETZ reprted. Other luminaries on the list include the Carlyle group, HarbourVest, JP Morgan, Warburg Pincus, and Japan’s Softbank and Jafco.

* Minister of Industry and Trade Ehud Olmert plans to permit the export of know-how under the Encouragement of Industrial Research and Development Law (2003), GLOBES reported. The objective is to encourage foreign investment in Israeli high-tech. Export of know-how has until now been forbidden or restricted – something which occasionally prevented the sale of Israeli firms to foreign entities. Israeli venture capital funds have claimed that the R&D Law frustrates foreign investment in Israeli companies, because it prevents foreign investors from realizing their investment through the sale of the Israeli companies to international corporations.

"The government will be the address for Israeli high-tech in order to restore the industry to its stature of two to three years ago," Olmert said. "The government doesn’t have to operate according to the rules of the free market, like an entrepreneur who wants to make a profit. The government’s profit is higher exports, greater efficiency, increased output, and more jobs."

Today’s Israel Line was prepared by Dina Wosner, Shelly Revah and Victor Chemtob at the Consulate General of Israel in New York.

Israeline — Tuesday, April 8, 2003 —


** Israeli Security Guards Stabbed by Palestinian Terrorists near Kibbutz Metzer
** Prosecution Presents New Evidence Linking Barghouti, Arafat to Terror
** Shalom Fischer Meeting Focus on Improvement of Israeli-European Relations
** Israeli-Arab Appointed as Supreme Court Judge
** Other News in Brief
** Eco & Hi-Tech Briefs


Security Guards Stabbed by Palestinian Terrorists near Kibbutz Metzer
Two security guards, stationed at the security fence near Kibbutz Metzer, were stabbed on Monday evening by Palestinian terrorists, YEDIOT AHARONOT reported. Arik Fein, one of the guards, was seriously injured and was evacuated to the Hillel Yaffe Hospital in Hadera. The other, Mordechai Rafaeli, was lightly wounded and threw stones at the assailants until they fled the scene. According to one security official, Rafaeli’s brave action prevented a disaster. He also added that the guards were armed but were unable to use their weapons. Last November, Palestinian terrorists infiltrated Kibbutz Metzer and killed five Israelis, including a mother and her two children.

Meanwhile, according to HA’ARETZ, the IDF demolished this morning the home of a former Palestinian navy officer who murdered six Israelis in a shooting attack during a Bat Mitzva in Hadera. Abdel Salem Hassouna,, a member of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, entered David’s Palace banquet hall on January 17, 2002 and sprayed the guests with automatic gunfire using an M-16 assault rifle.


Prosecution Presents New Evidence Linking Barghouti, Arafat to Terror
The prosecution of Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti continued on Monday, as evidence that the Palestinian leader was inexorably linked to terror was presented to the court, HA’ARETZ reported. Barghouti, arrested by the IDF in April of 2002, sat as Israel Security Agency and Israel Defense Forces intelligence officers presented detailed evidence gathered through interrogations and raids against Palestinian offices. The evidence demonstrated Barghouti’s personal involvement in fueling the current wave of terror with the consent of Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority.

According to Brig.-Gen. Yossi Kupperwasser, head of research for IDF intelligence, Arafat delivered to Barghouti tens of thousands of shekels to finance the acquisition of weapons and their delivery to terrorists. "In my position in charge of Fatah, I was responsible for everything that happened, including the transfer of funds to cells, the purchasing of weapons and operations," Barghouti recounted. According to transcripts of Barghouti’s interrogation released yesterday, "when Yasser Arafat wanted a cease-fire, he would say so, and when he remained silent, it was understood as a green light to continue terror attacks."

The testimony was accompanied by documents captured at Barghouti’s office in Ramallah, including a text in which the Tanzim leader specifically requests the transfer of fees to pay for the legal representation of a man accused of taking part in the lynching of two Israeli reservists in the Ramallah police station at the start of the Palestinian violence. During his several interrogations, Barghouti revealed how the Palestinian Authority made it a paramount objective to maintain legitimacy vis-a-vis Islamic Jihad and Hamas.


Shalom Fischer Meeting Focus on Improvement of Israeli-European Relations
German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, on his first visit to the Middle East in over 10 months, told Israeli officials on Monday he was worried by Israel’s deteriorating relationship with Europe, HA’ARETZ reported. Minister of Foreign Affairs Silvan Shalom told Fischer he had made improving relations with Europe a top priority.

Fischer raised the road map issue and asked Shalom about Israel’s reservations. Shalom explained that "the Palestinians expect to get a state at too early a stage and not at the end of the process." He added: "We need the concession on the right of return early, and not at the end of the process, as opposed to the [1993] Oslo accords, which also put the Palestinian state at the end of the process."

Shalom explained Israel regarded the war in Iraq as important, but that the country was not part of it, and had reservations about the linkage between the crisis in Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Shalom also criticized Fischer’s slated meeting with Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, warning that it would "not contribute to the peace process and only give Arafat the feeling he is in control and thus weaken Abu Mazen."

Fischer also met with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Labor Party Chairman Amram Mitzna. He was supposed to meet Justice Minister Yosef Lapid, but the meeting was canceled after Fischer refused to attend the meeting at the Ministry of Justice’s office in Eastern Jerusalem. "Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and the German foreign minister will not determine for us what areas of the city are part of our sovereignty," Lapid said.


Israeli-Arab Appointed as Supreme Court Judge
Minister of Justice Yosef Lapid appointed this morning Haifa District Court judge Salim Joubran as acting Supreme Court Justice until the end of the year, HA’ARETZ reported. Joubran’s appointment – Lapid’s first judicial appointment – will help reduce the workload of the other Supreme Court Justices and serve as a good-will gesture toward the Arab population of Israel. Joubran was recommended by Supreme Court Chief Justice Aharon Barak who said he was a suitable candidate for the position.

Upon taking office, Lapid had said he would appoint an Israeli-Arab to the Supreme Court at a permanent position. Legal sources believe that if Joubran’s ‘trial’ period were successful, he would become the first Israeli-Arab to become a permanent Supreme Court Justice.

Joubran, 56, was born in Haifa and completed his legal studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1968. Between 1970 and 1982 he worked as an independent lawyer in Acre and served as Chancellor of the Israel Rotary Association. Joubran was first appointed to the bench in 1982 as a Haifa Magistrates Court judge, and in 1993 was appointed to the city’s District Court. He is also a senior fellow in the faculty of general studies at Haifa University.


Other News in Brief

* Defense establishment sources believed Israel’s state of alert could be lowered in the next 48 hours, HA’ARETZ reported. As he toured a Patriot missile battery, Minister of Defense Shaul Mofaz said that the threat of an Iraqi missile attack would be reassessed over the next few days and the state of alert would be adjusted accordingly.

* Prime Minister Ariel Sharon spoke out in favor of the emergency economic plan outlined by Minister of Finance Benjamin Netanyahu, and called on Histadrut chairman Amir Peretz "not to damage the economy with a strike," THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Despite Sharon’s urging, the Histadrut is still calling for a general strike on Wednesday unless the Government formally scraps its intention to legislate changes in the public sector wage system.

* The Ministry of Agriculture announced it was going to distribute 80 tons of vegetables and fruits, 300,000 eggs and 30 tons of meat to those in need for the Jewish holiday of Pessah, MAARIV reported. In addition, the "Open Heart" organization will distribute more than 5000 food baskets. The charity "Tachlit" set up a special program according to which some established Israeli families would host families in need on Seder night.

* The Israeli Composers, Authors and Publishers Association, known as AKUM, celebrated on Monday evening its annual award ceremony for 2002, YEDIOT AHARONOT reported. Four Lifetime Achievement Awards were respectively given to poet Natan Yonatan, author Shulamit Har-Even, concert musician Tzipi Fleisher and musician Corinne Alal. Muki (Danny Niv) received two awards: Best Album of the Year ("Shema Israel") and Best Song of the Year ("Kulam Medabrim al Shalom": Everybody is talking about peace). In addition, Ivry Lider was awarded the Song Writer Award and Daniel Solomon received the Composer of the Year Award.


Eco & Hi-Tech Briefs

* Defense electronics company Elbit Systems has signed a joint venture agreement with AeroAstro Inc., a small satellite technology company, headquartered in Virginia to jointly develop micro- and nano- space systems and components, GLOBES reported. Since its inception in 1988, AeroAstro has been developing low-cost spacecraft and pioneering small satellite applications. Under the terms of the agreement, the two companies will focus on remote sensing and optical systems.

* Giza Venture Capital, Pitango Venture Capital, Hadasit Medical Research Services and Development (Hadassah Medical Center’s technology transfer company), and Teva are investing $11 million in a drug development venture, BioLine Therapeutics, GLOBES reported. Giza and BioLine will develop drugs based on research by university technology transfer companies and other researchers. BioLine plans to license molecules developed in universities, with a focus on treatments for cancer, and diseases of the auto-immune and central nervous systems. The joint venture is intended to overcome one of the obstacles to Israel’s biotechnology industry – the lack of investment in projects at very early stages. "We are bringing together financial, academic, and industrial partners in order to create better opportunities to combine industry and academia," Dr. Avi Molcho Giza, Venture Capital senior vice president, said.

* Technion – Israel Institute of Technology researchers have discovered proteins in the Gulf of Eilat that "swallow" light, GLOBES reported. The researchers discovered the proteorhodopsin proteins in the Gulf of Eilat, together with a group of US scientists. The discovery will be published soon in the prestigious scientific periodical "EBMO (European Molecular Biology Organization) Journal".

Today’s Israel Line was prepared by Matthew Miller, Michal Rachlevsky and Victor Chemtob at the Consulate General of Israel in New York.