Relations with Israel and U.S. seen strained following killings on CIA base in Afghanistan.
The use of a Jordanian double agent by al Qaeda in the suicide bombing that killed seven CIA officers and a Jordanian in Afghanistan last week will make Israelis and Americans wary in their future dealings with Jordan, according to an American security expert.
The Jordanian spy service had reportedly vouched for the would-be informant, which the security expert, Shoshana Bryen, said was apparently good enough for the man to enter a secure CIA base without the customary security screening.
As a prisoner swap for the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was said to be closer than ever this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was reportedly poised to declare a 10-month settlement freeze.
“Netanyahu is set to announce in the coming days that he will accept a construction freeze in the West Bank settlements for 10 months but will exclude [Palestinian east] Jerusalem,” Yossi Beilin, a former leader of the left-wing Meretz party, was quoted as saying.
A new and more serious indictment — possibly including rape charges — may be filed as early as next week against Israel’s disgraced former president Moshe Katsav after his withdrawal Tuesday from a plea deal that would have kept him out of jail.
“I want to fight for my innocence,” Katsav told a three-judge panel in Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court. “I have been thinking about this for a long time, and it was finalized in my mind today.”
Many Israeli soldiers could face charges; U.S. Supreme Court could provide remedy here
The decision this week of Israeli cabinet minister Moshe Yaalon not to fly to Britain for fear of being tried for an alleged seven-year-old war crime is seen as just the latest in a series of attempts to demonize Israel in the eyes of the world.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s future could lie in the hands of a millionaire Long Island rabbi and businessman who is reportedly set to testify as early as this week that he gave bribes to Olmert while Olmert served as Jerusalem’s mayor from 1999 to 2002.
Israelís peace movement, largely dormant since Ariel Sharon was first elected prime minister three years ago, resurfaced last weekend amid calls for a political framework for peace and withdrawal from a contentious settlement in Gaza.
An estimated 4,000 Israelis took to the street Saturday night to protest Sharon's policies in a demonstration outside his Jerusalem residence.
Naomi Chazan, a former Knesset member from the left-wing Meretz Party and one of the participants, said this was the first major demonstration against Sharon.
The Israeli government struggled this week to find a way to end the barrage of Palestinian Kassam rocket attacks on the western Negev city of Sderot as beleaguered residents there staged a series of protests to compel the government to act.
Although there were reports that Defense Minister Amir Peretz intended to permit a massive Air Force operation against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip in an effort to end the rocket fire, observers said at midweek that no final decision had been made.
As the Labor Party reaffirmed its intention to stay out of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's new government, the chairman of the secular Shinui Party spoke of joining: and for the first time softened his demand that government handouts end for fervently Orthodox men who don't work.
"You have to do it gradually," Shinui leader Tommy Lapid told The Jewish Week. "We don't want to cause unnecessary suffering to large families. But people who are able-bodied men should go and work.
Despite his decisive victory Tuesday, Ariel Sharon still finds himself in a vise: caught between his desire not to form a right-wing government that would hamstring his ability to deal with American peace demands and an Israeli public convinced that the time is not ripe to pursue peace.
Couple that with the electorate's crippling blow to the Israeli left and the strong showing of the anti-religious Shinui Party, and this election could pave the way for changes in the country's social fabric.
With Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Likud Party seen cruising to victory in Tuesday's national election, political pundits speculated on how Sharon was going to form the unity government he prefers with the Labor Party, whose leader has vowed to remain in opposition.