JERUSALEM (JTA) -- It was at a conference 15 years ago in the raw months following Yitzhak Rabin's assassination that an unlikely Israeli trio -- a young Navy officer, a leading businesswoman and a senior bureaucrat -- hatched a plan for Israel's future.
It wasn't exactly a plan for the future, but a plan to plan for the country's future in an entirely new way: one focused on long-term strategic thinking to propel Israel into the world's top 15 socioeconomic powers.
JERUSALEM (JTA) -- Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and the four other lawmakers that split from the Labor Party will remain in the government with four ministerial positions.
Four other Labor lawmakers joined Barak in forming a new faction on Monday: Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon; Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai; Deputy Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Orit Noked; and freshman Knesset member Einat Wilf.
The new ministerial positions were announced Tuesday.
The new party is expected to be called Atzmaut, or Independence.
This being a holiday, we're not hearing much from the Obama administration about today's Jerusalem bombshell – the announcement Defense Minister Ehud Barak is leaving the Labor Party and forming his own.
But I don't imagine they're busy writing congratulatory messages to Barak, a man they once regarded as the most responsive, responsible member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet but who, according to numerous reports in the Israeli press, has fallen from grace.
JERUSALEM (JTA) -- Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has split from the Labor party, which he serves as chairman, to form a new party.
Four other Labor lawmakers joined Barak on Monday: Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon; Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai; Deputy Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Orit Noked; and freshman Knesset member Einat Wilf.
The new party is expected to be called Atzmaut, or Independence. "We are creating a faction, a movement and eventually a party that will be centrist, Zionist and democratic," Barak told reporters Monday.
(JTA) -- President Obama has received a letter from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, requesting clemency for convicted spy-for-Israel Jonathan Pollard.
"I think it is important to underscore that Mr. Pollard was convicted of some of the most serious crimes that anybody can be charged (with)," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters Wednesday
“We have received the letter and will review it,” White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said.
Neither spokesman said how long the review process would take and what steps were involved.
I had a call today from a pro-peace process activist who expressed cautious excitement about what he termed “new hope for progress” on the Israeli-Syrian front (see this week's Jewish Week editorial here).
Ha'aretz is running the full text of Benjamin Netanyahu's letter to president Obama requesting executive clemency for convicted spy Jonathan Pollard – the first such formal request from an Israel Prime Minister.
JERUSALEM (JTA) -- United States Secretary for Homeland Security Janet Napolitano is in Israel to check on joint security projects between the two countries.
Napolitano visited Israel Monday and Tuesday as part of a multi-country tour that has included stops in Ireland, Afghanistan and Qatar. She will head to Belgium to meet with European Union and World Customs Organization officials, according to the Department of Homeland Security.