Despite objections by U.S. law enforcement officials, an Israeli court this week approved an unusual $3 million bail agreement for the founder of the chasidic New Square community, who is fighting extradition on charges he stole tens of millions of dollars in federal education and housing aid.
With John Paul II’s departure, Israel’s attention turned this week to Bibi, Yossi and Yosef. Following the historic Holy Land pilgrimage of the Pope, which dominated the country’s headlines for a week, two political scandals took center stage — pending corruption charges against former Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu, and a possible investigation of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef for an “incitement” attack on Education Minister Yossi Sarid.
As Israelis buried their dead following back-to-back Palestinian suicide bombings Sunday in Tel Aviv that killed 22 bystanders (seven of them foreign workers) political campaign commercials began running on Israel TV Tuesday night and analysts wondered how the terror attack and new political scandals would impact the Jan. 28 national election.
Charges that members of the Likud Partyís Central Committee sold their votes for cash and other favors in this month's primary (and to a lesser extent allegations of voting irregularities in the Labor Party primary) have rocked the Israeli electorate, with one poll showing that one-fifth of Israelis plan to change their vote because of it.