International pressure causing some Israelis to question sanctions.
Tel Aviv—Amid heavy international pressure on the issue, domestic political support for Israel’s economic blockade of the Gaza Strip border passages has badly frayed.
Once confined largely to the Israeli left, criticism of a policy that banned basic goods such as fresh meat, margarine and plaster has spread to security hawks who acknowledge the closure is not serving its original policy goal of weakening Hamas. That may make it easier politically for the government to make concessions on a blockade that, until now, has enjoyed widespread popular support.
The skies over Israel were clear on Monday night, clear enough for the annual fireworks on the eve of Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Independence Day.
But for some Israelis, the celebration of the country’s 62nd birthday was overcast.
“62, Under a U.S. Cloud,” a headline over an editorial in the Jerusalem Post declared.
The newspaper said the current chilled relations between Israel and the Obama administration because of the pace of Middle East peace negotiations, added to the threat of a nuclear Iran, cast a pall over Independence Day.
ADL's Foxman suggests event as Israeli government digs in over Obama demands.
Stewart Ain and Joshua Mitnick
Tel Aviv - American Jews should consider a march on Washington unless the "crisis" in the U.S.-Israel relationship is resolved soon, according to Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League.
He observed that there is a "debate in the American Jewish community" about the best way to achieve Arab-Israeli peace and that such a march in the nation's capital would demonstrate where the American Jewish community lines up on this issue.
Hila, Israel — Amid a flurry of reports about possible progress in prisoner-swap talks to secure the release of kidnapped Israeli Cpl. Gilad Shalit, his father Noam says he won’t get his hopes up despite signs of encouragement.
“It has only just started to move. It hasn’t reached an agreement. It has a much longer road to go,” he told The Jewish Week in an interview at the Shalit family home in this northern Israel hamlet.
Netiv Ha’asara, Israel — Israel’s dilemma over using fuel and gas supplies to punish Gazans for rocket fire came into sharp focus this week when a salvo of five mortar shells slammed down on this farming cooperative near the Gaza border.
Despite a government decision to impose the controversial sanctions to deter Palestinian militants from similar attacks in the future, experts and locals doubted whether cutting electricity in Gaza would contain the cross-border strikes.
When Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister Rabbi Michael Melchior was removed from a U.S. commercial plane last week by the pilot for posing a "security risk," it raised anew the enforcement of airline safety after Sept. 11.
The Aug. 8 incident marked the third time in recent months that a high-ranking Israeli delegation was barred from a flight because a pilot deemed them a security risk.
For Israel this week, it was as if nothing had changed.
One week after an official U.S. National Intelligence Estimate effectively shrank to near zero the chances of a Bush administration military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities — or President Bush’s support for an Israeli strike — Israel continued to talk up its feasibility.
The government of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon came under fire at home this week for allegedly disregarding Palestinian civilians in its zeal to combat terrorists, and from the United Nations, which called upon Israel to remove its security barrier that Arabs call a land grab.
The controversy within Israel arose after the Israeli military launched one of the largest series of air strikes against terrorists in the Gaza Strip on Monday. Five air strikes were conducted against suspected Palestinian terrorists and a weapons factory in Gaza City.