Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that Israel has no intention of dismantling the West Bank separation fence, which he called “a critical component of Israel’s security.”
“The separation fence will remain in place and will not be dismantled,” Netanyahu told Knesset members.
Media reports in Israel on Wednesday indicated that the Palestinian Authority had relayed to U.S. President Barack Obama a demand that the fence be removed since the security situation in the West Bank had improved. [continued…]
Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Meshal told a Russian diplomat a few days ago that his group would not stand in the way of a peace deal brokered between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israel. Meshal reportedly told Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Saltanov in Damascus that if Abbas comes to an agreement on a final settlement of the conflict with Israel, and if the agreement is approved in a Palestinian referendum, Hamas would not try to derail such an accord.
After the talks, Saltanov traveled to Israel, where he had two days of meetings with senior Israeli officials. Saltanov told his Israeli hosts that Meshal’s comments were positive in nature and should be given the attention they deserve.
Israel, for its part, has been unhappy about Russian contacts with high-ranking Hamas officials in the Syrian capital, and Israeli officials have expressed skepticism about Meshal’s reported comments. [continued…]
Israel will remove from school textbooks an Arabic term that describes its creation in 1948 as a “catastrophe”, the Education Ministry said on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said when he was opposition leader two years ago the word “nakba” in Israeli Arab schools was tantamount to spreading propaganda against Israel.
The term, which is not part of the curriculum in schools in Jewish communities, was introduced into a book for use in Arab schools in 2007 when the Education Ministry was run by Yuli Tamir of the center-left Labor party. [continued…]
Tensions between ultra-Orthodox and secular Jews in Jerusalem have been mounting for months. November’s municipal election replaced the affable ultra-Orthodox mayor, Uri Lupolianski, with Barkat, a combative, secular high-tech millionaire. In the spring, Barkat ordered that a municipal parking lot not far from the Old City be opened for business on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, inflaming some ultra-Orthodox leaders who saw it as a violation of the “status quo,” or long-standing modus vivendi concerning religious observance in the city. Protests, sometimes more peaceful, sometimes less, have materialized each Saturday since, as the new mayor-tried to negotiate a compromise involving opening a different lot, farther from the likely path of any ultra-Orthodox Jews. Then in June, Jerusalem hosted its largest ever gay pride march, which further angered rabbis and their flocks. Seen against this backdrop, last week’s riots were about much more than one case of putative child abuse; the starved kid, it becomes clear, only turned a longer-simmering potion of frustration and anger into a boiling rage. [continued…]