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Senate Confirms Dan Shapiro as U.S. Ambassador to Israel

05/27/2011

(JTA) -- The U.S. Senate voted Thursday to confirm Daniel Shapiro as America’s next ambassador to Israel.

Shapiro was nominated to the post in March by President Obama. At the time he was serving as senior director for the Middle East and North Africa at the National Security Council. He had coordinated Jewish outreach for the Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.

The president’s nomination of Shapiro was praised by a wide range of Jewish groups.

Senators Introduce Enhanced Iran Sanctions Bill

05/27/2011

WASHINGTON (JTA) -- U.S. Senators introduced an enhanced Iran sanctions bill matching one recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The crux of both bills is a ban on business with any entity that does $1 million in a single trade with Iran's energy sector, or $5 million over one year. The current threshold is $20 million in business per year.

Poll: D.C. Trip Sends Netanyahu's Popularity Soaring

05/26/2011

JERUSALEM (JTA) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's popularity has risen dramatically following his Washington trip, according to a poll.

Some 47 percent of Israelis polled believe Netanyahu's trip to the United States was a success and some 10 percent viewed it as a failure, the new Haaretz poll found.

U.S. to Help Israel Buy More Iron Dome Systems

05/26/2011

(JTA) -- The United States will help Israel buy four more Iron Dome short-range anti-missile systems, a Pentagon official said.

Lt.-Gen. Patrick O'Reilly, the head of the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency, told the Senate Appropriations Defense subcommittee Wednesday that the agency has included in its budget a proposal to pay for four more of the protection systems, which each cost about $50 million.

The system, which has been deployed near Beersheba and Ashkelon, has intercepted rockets fired from Gaza on southern Israeli communities.

Raise Restitution Issue in Poland, Group Asks Obama

05/26/2011

(JTA) -- President Obama should raise the issue of restitution of private Jewish property during his meeting this week with Polish officials, a Jewish group has urged.

The World Jewish Restitution Organization made the request two days before Obama meets Friday with Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski and Prime Minister Donald Tusk.

The request follows a similar one contained in a letter to Obama from U.S. Rep. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.) and U.S. Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.), chairs of the Committee on Security and Cooperation in Europe (Helsinki Commission).

S.F. Archbishop Raps Proposed Circumcision Ban

05/26/2011

(JTA) -- San Francisco’s Catholic archbishop expressed his opposition to a city ballot initiative that would ban circumcision for minors.

Archbishop George Niederauer condemned the initiative in a May 23 letter sent to the San Francisco Chronicle, his archdiocese’s newspaper reported.

Abbas: Netanyahu Speech Left ‘Nothing to Build On’

05/25/2011

JERUSALEM (JTA) -- Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said there was nothing for peace talks to build on in Benjamin Netanyahu's address to the U.S. Congress.

Abbas, speaking to the Palestine Liberation Organization and also with reporters on Wednesday in Ramallah, asserted that if no progress is made in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians that he will go to the United Nations General Assembly in September seeking recognition of a unilaterally declared Palestinian state.

Netanyahu to Congress: No Compromise on Jerusalem, Refugees or Jordan River Presence

05/24/2011
JTA

WASHINGTON (JTA) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that any peace deal with the Palestinians must grant Israel a military presence along the Jordan River, exclude repatriation of Palestinian refugees to Israel and leave Jerusalem as Israel’s united capital.

However, the Israeli leader said in his address to a joint meeting of Congress on Tuesday, some Jewish settlements in the West Bank would fall outside Israel’s borders in a final peace deal.

At AIPAC, Effort to Shift Focus Back to Agenda: Iran, Foreign Aid, Capitol Hill Relationships

05/24/2011
JTA

WASHINGTON (JTA) -- Let’s get past this U.S.-Israel relationship thing, so we can get on with important stuff, like the U.S.-Israel relationship.

That seemed to be the message this week at the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. With 10,000 people and both the U.S. and Israeli leaders in attendance – plus 67 U.S. senators and 286 members of the U.S. House of Representatives at the gala dinner on Monday night – this AIPAC parley was the biggest and in many ways the most impressive ever.

U.S. House Approves Jewish Chaplains Memorial

05/24/2011

(JTA) -- The U.S. House of Representatives voted to authorize the construction of a memorial for fallen Jewish chaplains in Arlington National Cemetery.

The bill was approved Monday night and now moves to the Senate.

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