Israel

Ending the Jewish Construction Freeze was Right

09/28/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

Under relentless pressure by the Obama administration, Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu agreed, last November, to a one-sided one-time10-month Jewish construction freeze on the six percent of the West Bank where Jews live.

Since the Oslo accords were signed in 1993, Israel hasn't built a single new settlement and has only built within the settlement borders as of 1993.

Two takes on the West Bank settlement debate

If you want to understand the maddeningly complex debate over Israel's West Bank settlements and U.S. policy, check out these two op-eds that articulately outline two opposing positions.

In today's Washington Post, columnist Richard Cohen took the Obama administration to task for what he says is its counterproductive focus on stopping settlement construction as a necessary precursor of a viable peace process.

Cohen accurately laid out the emotional punch the issue carries for both sides:

Meet the High-Tech Millionaire Leading the West Bank Settlement Movement

09/27/2010
JTA

TEL SHILOH, West Bank (JTA) -- Naftali Bennett does not fit the mold of a typical Jewish settler leader.

He's just 38, made his fortune in high tech before entering what he describes as public service and doesn’t even live in the West Bank.

A former commando and company commander in the Israeli army, Bennett is now preparing for a possible battle against an old ally: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Building Begins in West Bank as Freeze Ends

09/27/2010

JERUSALEM (JTA) -- Building began in West Bank communities just hours after the expiration of a 10-month settlement construction freeze.

Work on 50 apartments for people removed five years ago from Gush Katif began Monday morning in Ariel. Construction also continued Monday in Revava, Yakir and Kochav Hashachar, Haaretz reported, on homes for which permits had been issued before the freeze began.

Construction is expected to begin Tuesday in several other West Bank communities including Shavei Shomron, Adam, Oranit, Sha'arei Tikva, Kedumim and Karmei Tzur.

Federations and Overseas Partners Reach Funding Deal

09/22/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

NEW YORK (JTA) -- The Jewish Federations of North America and its two primary overseas partners have reached an agreement in principle over how to divide the money raised by local federations.

The Jewish Agency for Israel and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee have been struggling with the JFNA for nearly two years over how to split the more than $100 million raised by the federation system for overseas needs. The two overseas partners have traditionally split the money using a formula that gives 75 percent of the funds to the Jewish Agency and 25 percent to JDC.

Pollard for a settlement moratorium? Don't count on it.

I was intrigued by this week's Internet buzz about reports talks are underway about a possible trade: convicted spy Jonathan Pollard for a three month extension of Israel's West Bank settlement moratorium. Mostly, I was intrigued because people actually believe this silliness.

The New york Times, citing an Israel reported on Monday that the idea was one of many floated by officials in Prime Minister Netanyahu's office, but some Internet news and blog sites immediately began churning out copy suggesting the “deal” was under serious consideration.

Talks Seen Continuing Despite Freeze Deadline

Neither side can be seen scuttling negotiations, experts say.

09/21/2010
JTA

Washington — When the fat lady sings on Sept. 26, it may only be an intermission.

That’s the word from an array of Mideast experts across the political spectrum. They are predicting that the seeming intractability between Israel and the Palestinians over whether Israel extends a settlement moratorium beyond its end date will not scuttle the peace talks.

Instead, the observers say, the sides are likely employing the brinksmanship that has come to characterize Middle East peacemaking.

Heat Damages Israel’s Etrog Crop

09/21/2010

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s unusually extreme summer heat has seriously damaged this year’s etrog crop, growers say.

Strong heat and winds caused many more of the fruit, one of the four species required for the Sukkot holiday starting Wednesday night, to fall off trees prematurely, a grower told Haaretz.

In addition, while in most years 10 percent of the harvest is designated of highest quality, this year only 1 percent received the designation, another grower told Haaretz.

Media Watch: Netanyahu Off The Hook

Most everyone, from Dubai to London, now focusing on failure of Abbas.

09/21/2010
Associate Editor

Jake Tapper, ABC’s White House correspondent, tweets: “Crap, I’m still writing 5770 on my checks.”

Many in the media no longer blame Prime Minister Netanyahu for problems with peace talks.

Does Franzen's "Freedom" Suck?

I do not know about you, but I've been riveted by the debates surrounding Jonathan Franzen's latest novel, "Freedom".  In the new issue of The Atlantic, B.R. Myers strikes a devasting blow against a book that has been otherwise roundly praised.

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