(CBS News) JERUSALEM - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will address the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday, but the visions they will present to the world body are worlds apart.
Abbas wants to put the Palestinian issue back on the international agenda and will appeal to the U.N. to recognize the dispossessed Palestinian people as an independent state.
But the man who holds most of the cards with regard to granting the Palestinians statehood, Netanyahu, is playing an entirely different hand. In spite of the persistent threat of terrorism from Palestinian militant groups, Netanyahu has put the issue on a back burner.Continue »
(CBS News) JERUSALEM - Israel's national airline, El Al, plans to stop flying to Cairo because it says planes on that route have been virtually empty. Israelis, and tourists at large, are afraid to travel to Egypt because of street violence and instability, and the route has become unprofitable since the Egypt's Arab Spring uprising began more than a year ago.
Politically, the flights between Cairo and Tel Aviv are a symbol of the two nations' 33-year-old peace treaty. But now, El Al says keeping the route operational simply doesn't make economic sense.
"Operating the flight route to Cairo and maintaining the necessary infrastructure for that requires a large amount of security and operational resources, and heavy economic expenditure which amounts to hundreds of thousands of dollars annually," El Al CEO Eliezer Shakedi said in a letter to Israel's Foreign Ministry.Continue »
(CBS News) JERUSALEM - An Israeli government report has sharply criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the commando raid on an aid flotilla heading to the Gaza Strip two years ago that left nine Turkish activists dead.
The 153-page document penned by State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss describes Netanyahu's handling of the affair as "flawed" and "superficial."
"Substantive and significant deficiencies were discovered in the decision-making process... that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu led and oversaw," the report says. "The Prime Minister's decision-making process took place without orderly, coordinated and documented team work, even though the senior political, military and intelligence ranks were aware that the Turkish flotilla was different from other flotillas."Continue »
(CBS News) JERUSALEM - Vandals have spray painted anti-Zionist graffiti on the walls of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, one of Israel's most sacred institutions. Police suspect ultra-Orthodox Jewish militants because the slogans were in Hebrew and one was signed: "World Ultra-Orthodox Jewry."
"Hitler, thank you for the Holocaust," reads one slogan, while another says: "Jews, wake up, the evil Zionist regime doesn't protect us, it jeopardizes us."
Many ultra-Orthodox Jews are anti-Zionist because they believe that a Jewish state can only be established by the Messiah under the laws of the Torah (the Five Books of Moses). They see modern-secular Zionism as an abomination.Continue »
(CBS News) JERUSALEM - Israel is transforming the parking lot of the Habima National Theater in Tel Aviv into a sophisticated bomb shelter for 1,600 people amid fears of war with Iran. When the theater was renovated last year, city officials decided to kill two birds with one stone: bringing the old theater into the 21st century and upgrading the fortified underground parking lot into a shelter in the event of a national emergency. The facility can be sealed and has ventilation to keep air safe if Israel comes under attack with chemical weapons.Continue »
After three years of deadlock in the Middle East peace process, young activists are hoping that a "virtual" peace could lead to the real thing. Thousands of Israeli and Arab youth from across the region are holding an online peace conference on Monday and Tuesday - on Facebook. The conference is hosted by the Yala Young Leaders, a group that seeks to promote dialogue among Israelis, Palestinians and Americans.
"We live in a new age where you can speak freely, come together, and bring peace and hope," said Israeli President Shimon Peres in a recorded video message to the conference.Continue »
After a long stalemate, Jordan is spearheading a new effort to revive the Middle East peace process.
Israeli and Palestinian chief negotiators will meet for the first time in more than a year on Tuesday in Amman. While it is not a formal negotiating session, officials will seek a formula for resuming peace talks that have been deadlocked over Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank.Continue »
"The character of the walls is typical of Jewish villages in the early Roman period. So this would be the sort of house that Jesus or people of his period would have lived in," said Yardena Alexandre of the Israel Antiquities Authority, who headed the excavation.
Alexandre said the remains suggest that Nazareth was an out-of-the-way village of just 50 houses, covering only about four acres. Based on pottery shards found at the site, the house apparently belonged to a "simple Jewish family."
A poll published Friday in The Jerusalem Post shows that 64 percent of Israeli Jews believe Israel cannot trust international pledges for its security in return for dismantling settlements and withdrawing from the West Bank.
Furthermore, Israelis want a quid pro quo: 71 percent believe that Palestinians must freeze West Bank construction if Israel is forced to do the same.
Israel is concerned about remarks White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel (above) made during a closed-door meeting Sunday with 300 major donors of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the powerful pro-Israel lobby in Washington.
While expressing unwavering U.S. support for Israel, Israeli media reported that Emanuel also said confronting Iran depends on making progress in negotiations seeking to create a Palestinian state.
Israeli officials say the Obama administration has asked Congress to change a U.S. law to allow such indirect funding for Hamas, even though the group is on the State Department's list of terrorist organizations.
According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, the Obama administration requested the changes this month as part of an $83-billion emergency spending bill that also includes funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The trip comes during a period of heightened tension between Israel and the Vatican. First, Cardinal Renato Martino described Gaza as a "big concentration camp." Any such reference to the Holocaust touches a raw nerve in Israel.
The German-born Pope then reinstated excommunicated British Bishop Richard Williamson, who denies the Holocaust. Benedict later reversed the move, spoke out against anti-Semitism and met with Jewish leaders for reconciliation.
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