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>JN April 22, Vol. 6. #75

Palestinians Send Foreign Aid to Iraq

By IINS News Service

A PLO Authority charity sent a planeload of milk and medicine to Iraq in a gesture of solidarity with the Iraqi people. Yasir Arafat's wife Suha, whose Palestine Future Organization led the campaign to collect 10,000 pounds of aid, said the gift from financially-strapped Arabs was a gesture of support for ordinary Iraqis.

"Despite everything that the Palestinian people are facing from Israeli siege and closures, they are insisting to help their brothers in Iraq," Arafat said. "It is a gesture of solidarity from the Palestinian people, the Palestinian children, to the people and to the children of Iraq."

The aid was flown from al-Arish airport in Egypt, south of PA-ruled Gaza, to Iraq. Gaza has no airport. "We were very proud to get a license by the United Nations to fly a Palestinian airplane over Iraq," Arafat said.


Microsoft To Invest In Israeli Fund

Israel Faxx Staff Report

Microsoft plans to invest $7.5 million in the Orion Israel Fund, an Israeli venture capital fund, Microsoft's executive vice president Steve Ballmer said. "We will invest where we see opportunities, particularly outside of the U.S. -- where venture capital is more developed -- and we know that the local software industry will be good for us."

This is Microsoft's first investment in an Israeli venture capital fund. Microsoft will also have an option to co-invest an additional $7.5 million in specific projects. The fund intends to raise $100 million over the next few months and plans to invest in Israeli Internet technology companies.

Ballmer also announced that Microsoft will provide the know-how to help Israel establish a demo of its computerized Accessible Government project. "The Accessible Government project is working to open up the interaction between the citizens and the government over the Internet," he said.

The company's only research and development center outside the United States is located in Haifa and employs about 150 people.


Software Piracy in Israel

By IINS News Service

"Israel is in first place in the developed world for software piracy," said Ami Fleischer, the anti-piracy program manager for Microsoft Israel. "Israel may look good relative to its neighbors but the question is, do we want to be compared to other Middle Eastern nations or to technologically advanced nations that we are on par with?"

According to Reuters, software piracy in Israel cost software companies an estimated $77 million in 1996, according to the Business Software Association, the industry's international watchdog.

More than 50 percent of business software applications in Israel in 1997 were illegally copied, according to the BSA, which has opened an office in Tel Aviv to lobby for greater enforcement and launched an anti-piracy hotline.

"We are already pursuing some cases," said Weitzman Hadar, the BSA representative in Israel. "We are even investigating one software company which itself is using pirated software."

"It is hard to understand how a country that has transformed itself from an agricultural economy to a high-tech economy would do this," said Edgar Fulton, commercial counselor at the US embassy in Tel Aviv. "It will inhibit investment in exactly what Israel is trying to get the most investment in. Real soon it will be haunting Israel the way it has been haunting the United States."

Copyright legislation in Israel is based on British law dating from 1911, long before the creation of the Israeli State and the development of the first practical computers. Israel is in the process of updating the legislation but one of those drafting it said the revisions would not make enforcement issues any less difficult.

"The courts when faced with cases of piracy are frequently lenient. They will convict but the penalty will not be harsh and as a result of this there is no deterrent," said Shlomo Cohen, a Justice Ministry taskforce member formulating the changes.

In a country of 5.5 million, there were an estimated 590,000 computers used in businesses in 1997 and another 510,000 personal computers in Israeli homes. The majority of pirated software in the workplace is being used in smaller businesses, said Jimmy Schwarzkopf, managing director of the META Group consulting firm.


Israel Upset Blair Called Arafat "President"

Israel Faxx Staff Report

Israel was peeved over British Prime Minister Tony Blair's reference to Yasir Arafat as Palestinian "president." Asked about Blair's use of the title at a news conference with Arafat in Gaza on Monday, Israeli Cabinet Secretary Danny Naveh told Israel Radio: "I must say very clearly he is not a president. He is in sum the chairman of the Palestinian Authority."


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