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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                      June 20, 1995, V3, #112
All the News the Big Guys Missed

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Computer Program to Improve Phone Conversations on Internet

A new version of Internet-Phone has been produced in Israel to allow "natural" phone conversations through Internet, with both parties talking simultaneously. This could become a cheap substitute for international phone calls. The Vocaltech Co. has produced the new program and signed agreements with suppliers in the U.S. involved in Internet connections.

Rabin Speaks of July 1 Deadline

By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin says it is "very doubtful" that the July 1 target date can be met for agreement on the expansion of Palestinian autonomy, if the Palestinians insist on reaching agreement on all aspects of a planned Israeli troop redeployment.

Rabin outlined the government's plan to withdraw from some Palestinian cities to two parliamentary committees on Monday. He said he is only willing to make a partial withdrawal in the short term, to be followed by Palestinian elections, with a further withdrawal to be negotiated later.

After the committee meetings, Rabin told reporters that if the Palestinians insist on knowing the full details of the second phase of the withdrawal now, it will take more than the 10 days remaining before the July 1 target date to negotiate it. It is not clear whether the two sides have already agreed on the first phase of the withdrawal.

One well-placed Israeli official says they have, and that the current argument is about a future Israeli withdrawal from the tense West Bank city of Hebron. But other Israeli officials say the timing of withdrawals from the cities of Ramallah and Bethlehem are also still in dispute. And Palestinian officials say there is still a wide gap between the Israeli and Palestinian visions of the next stage of the peace process.

Edomite Site? Or Nomadic Crossing Point?

With ancient incense burners emitting mysterious fumes of myrrh and frankincense, the Israel Museum -- now celebrating its 30th anniversary -- has uncovered finds from the archeological excavations at the Ein Hatzeva Temple in the Arava Rift.

The exhibition, "On the road to Edom, the Discoveries at Ein Hatzeva," implies an identification of the temple as an Edomite site during the era of the Kings of Judah. However, not all researchers agree with that; Ein Hatzeva is astride the roads where the Spice Caravan Route went through from the Arabian Peninsula through Petra and to the Gaza coast. The site was called Tamar in Biblical times and may have been the first station on Israeli soil of this ancient historic route. Three fortresses from early Israeli times (from the 10th to the 6th century before the Common Era) have been unearthed there. They were defense points for the trade and travel routes of the convoys. The ruins of a khan, or camel caravan inn, have also been found, on which were built a fortress in Roman times.

New Method of Treating Skin Cancer

The Ichilov Medical Centers in Tel Aviv and the Jezreel Valley (Afula) have reported new methods of treating skin cancer from experience accumulated at the Ecological Institute which indicates that Interferon Alfa prevents the recurrence of the ailment.

Some 40 patients have been treated this way in the past six years; in only six of them, did the cancer recur. This is a much lower rate than in patients not treated with this medication. Melanomas are now being discovered earlier due to the alertness of physicians and the cancer therefore penetrates less and is easier to treat.

Herpes Virus Used as Nerve Treatment

At the Medical Faculty of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the herpes virus -- after being "neutralized" and then "enriched" through genetic engineering -- is being introduced into genes as medication to cure nerve ailments. This includes brain cells.

The diseases involved include Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, muscular dystrophy, cerebral strokes, multiple sclerosis and damage to the spinal column. It is also hoped the method will work with congenital genetic shortcomings causing hereditary muscular diseases. Dr. Yisrael Steiner of the Neurological Division heads the research team developing this new method, based on the discovery some 40 years ago of the DNA genetic codes and their importance in tracing the onset of many diseases of a genetic or hereditary nature.

Scientists think one way of combatting them is by intervening in the processes occurring in the brain and the nervous system. This can be done by introducing a healthy gene in place of the affected one to get the body working normally again. Steiner's team has isolated an archetype of the herpes virus from humans. The negative elements causing the disease are removed, and are replaced by a healthy gene, which is then re-introduced into the nervous systems of laboratory mice.

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