Story highlights

Only Israeli citizens, Old City residents, tourists, businesspeople working in the area and students studying there will be allowed to enter, police said in a statement Sunday.

They said they’re also preventing Muslim men under the age of 50 from attending prayers at the holy site in the Old City that Jews call the Temple Mount and Muslims call Haram al-Sharif, or the Noble Sanctuary.

Palestinian officials reacted angrily to the move.

“What’s happening today is a renewal of Israeli arrogance and recklessness,” Hatem Abdul Qader, a Jerusalem official for the governing Palestinian party Fatah, told Palestine TV. “Jerusalem is now a military base, sons of Jerusalem are now banned from entering the Old City.”

The measures follow the knife and gun attack Saturday by a 19-year-old Palestinian in the Old City in which two Israelis were killed and two others were wounded, according to authorities.

Police: Attacker kills 2 in Jerusalem

Police say they killed the attacker in a gun battle. He was identified as Mohannad Shafik Halabi from near Ramallah, in the West Bank.

Early Sunday, a 15-year-old Jewish boy was wounded in a stabbing attack by an Arab in a Jerusalem neighborhood near the Old City, Israeli police said. Police shot and killed the attacker, a spokesman said.

The official Palestinian news agency WAFA disputed the Israeli account of the incident, reporting that a 19-year-old Palestinian man was chased by Israeli settlers and then shot by police.

The bloodshed over the weekend is the latest in a spiral of violence and escalating tensions in the region.

Palestinian protesters have repeatedly clashed with Israeli police at the Temple Mount in recent weeks. The turmoil has spread to other areas as well.

Last week, an Israeli couple were shot and killed in the West Bank in front of their four children, according to Israeli officials.

And anger boiled the week before among Palestinians over the death of a teenager who was shot by Israeli soldiers at a military checkpoint at Hebron in the West Bank. The Israeli military said she attacked a soldier with a knife, an account disputed by Palestinian sources.

The United Nations issued a statement on behalf of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Sunday condemning “in the strongest terms” the attacks in the Old City of Jerusalem and subsequent incidents.

“Recalling the recent deadly attack on another Israeli family in the occupied West Bank, and in light of the wave of extremism and violence sweeping the region, the Secretary-General is deeply concerned that these latest incidents signal a dangerous slide towards escalation,” the statement said. “The Secretary-General is deeply troubled by statements from Palestinian militant groups, including Hamas, praising such heinous attacks.”

The U.S. State Department issued a statement Saturday, saying it “strongly condemns all acts of violence, including the tragic stabbing in the Old City of Jerusalem today.”

“We are very concerned about mounting tensions in the West Bank and Jerusalem, including the Haram al Sharif/Temple Mount, and call on all sides to take affirmative steps to restore calm and avoid escalating the situation,” the statement said.

CNN’s Michael Schwartz reported from Jerusalem, and Jethro Mullen wrote from Hong Kong. CNN’s Yousuf Basil, Erin Mclaughlin, Ralph Ellis and Kevin Wang contributed to this report.

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Israel limits access to Jerusalem Old City after attack …

State of Israel

The State of Israel is a country in southwestern Asia on the eastern side of the Mediterranean Sea. Israel became an independent country in 1948.[6] Israel is the only Jewish country, and Jews all over the world think of Israel as their spiritual home. Israel’s population was 8.1 million people in 2013 and 6.04 million are Jewish. Almost all the other citizens of Israel are Arabs (1.6 million) and include Muslims, Christians, Druze, and Samaritans.[7]Jerusalem is Israel’s capital and largest city.

Israel is a small country, but it has mountains, deserts, shores, valleys and plains. The climate is hot and dry in the summers, and cool and rainy in the winters.

Israel has few natural resources and imports more goods than it exports. It has a relatively high standard of living and life expectancy. Almost all of its people can read and write.

The country’s history goes back thousands of years, to ancient times. Two world religions, Judaism and Christianity, began here. It is the place where the Jewish nation and religion first grew. Jews and Christians call it the Holy Land, because it is the place of many events described in the Bible.

Three thousand years ago, the Canaanites and other Semitic peoples lived here. Between about 1800 and 1500 BCE, another Semitic people, called the Hebrews, settled in Canaan after being freed from Egypt. They were named the Children of Israel or Israelites. The Israelites had 12 tribes. They chose a King, Saul, as their leader. The next king, David, began the Kingdom of Israel in about 1000 BCE and made the city of Jerusalem his capital. His son, Solomon, built the first Temple for the worship of God. Solomon died in about 928 BCE. His kingdom broke into two countries. The northern country kept the name Israel. The southern country, called Judah, kept Jerusalem as its capital.

The Assyrians conquered the Kingdom of Israel in 732 BCE and the Babylonians conquered the Kingdom of Judah in 586 BCE. Many Jews returned from Babylonia and built a country again. First the Persians, then the Greeks and then the Romans ruled the Land of Israel.

The Jews fought against the Romans but the Romans defeated them. In 70 CE, the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple there. Again, in 132 CE, the Romans defeated the Jews and killed or took many of them to other places. The number of Jews living in Israel became much smaller. Many were forced to live in other countries. This spreading of Jewish communities outside of Israel is called the Diaspora.

Many of the Jews who remained moved to the Galilee. Jewish teachers wrote important Jewish books, called the Mishnah and part of the Talmud there, in the 2nd to 4th centuries CE.

The Romans began to call this region by the word that became Palestine in English. The Roman and then the Byzantine empires ruled until 635 CE, when Arabs conquered the region. Different Arab rulers, and for a while Crusaders, ruled the land. In 1516, the Ottoman Empire conquered the land and ruled the region until the 20th century.

Since the Diaspora, there have been many attempts to make a new homeland for the Jewish people. In the 1880s, this wish for a Jewish nation in Israel became a movement called Zionism. Jews from all over the world began to come to the area and settled in desert zones, then governed by the Turkish and later by the British Governments.

On 14 May 1948, British control over the Palestine Mandate ended. The Jewish inhabitants (under the leadership of David Ben-Gurion) declared independence for the new Jewish state. Immediately following Israel’s declaration of independence, the armies of several nearby countries, including Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq attacked the new country.[8] Since the 1980s the main military opponents of Israel have been Islamist groups, such as Hezbollah.[9]

The countries of Lebanon and Syria are to the north of Israel, Jordan is on the east and Egypt is to the southwest. Israel also controls the West Bank of the Jordan River.

Israel has a long coastline on the Mediterranean Sea. In the south, the town of Eilat is on the Gulf of Aqaba, which is part of the Red Sea.

The Galilee is a fertile and mountainous region in the north. There is a flat plain called the Coastal Plain to the west near the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The Negev Desert is a barren area of flat plains, mountains and craters in the south. There is a range of mountains in the center that runs from the north to south.

On the eastern side, there is a low area called a depression. The Hula Valley and the Sea of Galilee are in this low area in the north. The Jordan River runs from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea. The land next to the Dead Sea is the lowest in the world. It is -417 meters below sea level.[10]

The weather is normally hot and dry in the summer and mild in the winter. Rain falls mostly in the winter (between the months of November and April). There is more rain in the north than in the south and hardly any rain in the desert. Israel built a very big irrigation system to bring water from the north to the dry areas in the south so that crops can grow there also.[10]

Jerusalem is the biggest city in Israel. Tel Aviv, Haifa, Beersheba and Rishon LeZion are also large cities. The capital city is Jerusalem.[10]

Israel is a parliamentary democracy. All Israeli citizens who are 18 years or older may vote. The Israeli parliament is called the Knesset. The Knesset has 120 members. Each member is elected for no more than four years at a time. The Knesset makes laws, helps decide national policy, and approves budgets and taxes.

Voters do not vote for individual candidates in Knesset elections. Instead, they vote for a party. This party makes a list with all its candidates. The list may have only one candidate or as many as 120 candidates. In an election, the percentage of the vote that each list wins decides how many representatives, or seats, the party gets in the Knesset. For example, if a party list gets 33 percent of the vote, it gets 40 Knesset seats.

Israel has no written constitution. Instead, the Knesset made “Basic Laws”. The Basic Laws say how the government must work and give civil rights to the citizens.

The Prime Minister is the head of Israel’s government. He or she is usually the leader of the party that has the most seats in the Knesset. The prime minister must keep the support of a majority of Knesset members to stay in office. He or she appoints ministers to the cabinet. The Knesset approves appointments to the Cabinet. The ministers are responsible for subjects such as education, defense, social welfare and so on. The prime minister is the head of the cabinet and decides the topics of cabinet meetings and makes the final decisions.

Benjamin Netanyahu has been the Prime Minister since March 2009.

The President is the head of state. The Knesset elects the president for seven years. Most of the president’s duties are ceremonial: The president signs laws and treaties approved by the Knesset, appoints judges, and members of some public organizations. He or she also accepts the documents from ambassadors and foreign diplomats bring when they are appointed.

Reuven Rivlin has been the President since July 2014.

Israel has many political parties, with a large variety of opinions. In the elections of 2009, twelve parties won seats in the Knesset.

The parties belong to three main groups: The biggest groups are the Zionist parties. These include the conservatives such as the Likud party; social democrats, such as Kadima and the Labor party; and the religious Zionists. There are also smaller religious Orthodox Jewish parties, special-interest parties, and Israeli Arab parties.

A single party usually does not win enough seats in the Knesset by itself to have a majority, so one of the bigger parties asks for support from the other parties, including the religious parties, to form a coalition government. This gives these parties a lot of power although they are small.

The Likud supports free market policies and limited government involvement in the economy. Likud believes strongly in protecting Israel’s security. It wants to give less away in the peace process for a negotiated agreement with the Palestinians and the Arab states.

The Labor Party supports government control of the economy, but also believes in a limited amount of free enterprise. The party says it will give more away for an agreement with the Palestinians and the Arab states.

Kadima is a centrist political party. It believes in both Israel’s security and continuing the peace process, and supports negotiating an agreement for peace with the Palestinians.

At independence, Israel was a poor country with little agricultural or industrial production. But Israel’s economy has grown tremendously since 1948. The nation now enjoys a relatively high standard of living, despite having few natural resources and a limited water supply.

Many immigrants came to Israel in the years immediately after independence. Many of these immigrants were skilled laborers and professionals who greatly aided the nation’s economic development.

Many of Israel’s service industry workers are employed by the government or by businesses owned by the government. Government workers provide many of the services that are needed by Israel’s large immigrant population, such as housing, education, and vocational training.

Tourism is one of the country’s important sources of income. Tourists visit many archaeological, historical and religious sites, museums, nature reserves and beach resorts in Israel.[11]

Tourists support many of Israel’s service industries, especially trade, restaurants, and hotels. Over 2.7 million foreign tourists visited Israel in 2009.[12]

Israeli factories produce such goods as chemical products, electronic equipment, fertilizer, paper, plastics, processed foods, scientific and optical instruments, textiles and clothing. The cutting of imported diamonds is a major industry. Government-owned plants manufacture equipment used by Israel’s large armed forces. Israel is the world’s largest exporter of drones.[13] Tel Aviv and Haifa are Israel’s major manufacturing centers.

Agriculture formerly employed a much larger percentage of Israel’s work force. But much of the work once performed by people is now performed by machines. Important agricultural products include citrus and other fruits, eggs, grain, poultry, and vegetables.

The government develops, helps finance, and controls agricultural activity, including fishing and forestry. Israel produces most of the food it needs to feed its people, except for grain. Agricultural exports provide enough income to pay for any necessary food imports. Most Israeli farmers use modern agricultural methods. Water drawn from the Sea of Galilee irrigates large amounts of land in Israel.

Most Israeli farms are organized as moshavim or kibbutzim. Israel also has some private farms.

The Dead Sea, the world’s saltiest body of water, is Israel’s leading source of minerals. Bromine, magnesium, potash and table salt are extracted from the sea. Potash, used mainly in fertilizers, is the most important mineral. In the Negev Desert, there are mines for phosphates, copper, clay, and gypsum.

Israel has few energy sources. It has no coal deposits or hydroelectric power resources and only small amounts of crude oil and natural gas. As a result, Israel depends on imported crude oil for gasoline and diesel for transportation, and coal producing electricity for its energy needs.

Solar energy energy from the sun is used widely to heat water for houses. Israel is developing other ways to use solar energy to power houses and factories.

In 2008, Israel began investing in building electric cars and the stations to charge them. There may also be large natural gas fields in the Mediterranean Sea that Israel could develop.

For 2006, Israeli exports grew by 11% to just over $29 billion; the hi-tech sector accounted for $14 billion, a 20% increase from the previous year.

Because it has few natural resources, Israel imports more goods than it exports. The country’s main imports include chemicals, computer equipment, grain, iron and steel, military equipment, petroleum products, rough diamonds, and textiles. Israel’s main exports are chemical products, citrus fruits, clothing, electronic equipment, fertilizers, polished diamonds, military equipment,and processed foods. The nation’s main trading partners include the Benelux countries (Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg), Germany, Italy, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Israel has a well-developed transportation system. Most middle-class Israeli families either own a car or have one provided by their employer. Paved roads reach almost all parts of the country. Public transportation both in and between cities is provided primarily by bus.

Ben-Gurion Airport is Israel’s main international airport. It is near Tel Aviv. There are smaller airports are located at Atarot, near Jerusalem, and at Eilat. El Al, Israel’s international airline, flies regularly to the United States, Canada, Europe, and parts of Africa and Asia. Israel has three major deepwater ports Haifa, Ashdod, and Eilat.

Israel’s communication system is one of the best in the Middle East. Israel has about 30 daily newspapers, about half of which are in Hebrew. The rest are in Arabic, Yiddish, or one of several foreign languages. The Israel Broadcasting Authority, a public corporation set up by the government, runs the TV and nonmilitary radio stations.

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Israel – Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Written on October 3rd, 2015 & filed under Israel Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

An Israeli soldier speaks on his mobile phone at a military outpost at Mount Hermon in the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights overlooking the Israel-Syria border on Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015.


JERUSALEM – The Israeli military said Sunday it struck two Syrian army posts with artillery fire after rockets from the war-torn country landed in Israeli-controlled territory.

The military said the two rockets, which landed over the last two days, were errant fire from the Syrian conflict. They caused no damage or injuries.

Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, an Israeli military spokesman, said in a statement that Israel holds the Syrian military “responsible and accountable for any aggression emanating from Syria.”

Rami Abdurrahman, the head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said a Syrian army position in the Quneitra region of the Golan Heights was hit at least four times by the Israeli military. Activists have reported intense fighting between Syrian troops and insurgents in the Quneitra area in recent days.

Israel has mostly stayed on the sidelines throughout the Syrian war. But the military has returned fire when rockets or mortar shells have strayed into Israeli-controlled territory. Israel has also carried out a number of airstrikes against suspected weapons shipments destined for its enemies.

2015 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Israel strikes Syrian army posts in Golan Heights – CBS News

Senior officials say Moscow contacted National Security Adviser Yossi Cohen an hour before the Russian attack.

UNITED NATIONS Russia informed Israel in advance about its intention to carry out an aerial attack in Syria, senior Israeli officials told Haaretz on Wednesday.

The sources said Russian government officials made contact with Yossi Cohen, the national security adviser in the Prime Minister’s Office, as well as with senior figures in the Israeli defense establishment about an hour before the Russian attack, saying that Russian planes would shortly thereafter be bombing targets in Syria.

The Russians’ advance notice was apparently designed to avoid any confrontation between Israeli and Russian planes in the course of the operation.

The information was provided to Israel in accordance with understandings that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin reached when they met in Moscow a week ago. The two leadersagreed to establish a mechanism for coordination between the Israel Defense Forces and the Russian army to head off any unintentional encounters in Syrian airspace. In a briefing with reporters in New York after his meeting on Monday with U.S. President Barack Obama, Putin acknowledged that Israel has security interests in Syria, and that he respects this.

Russia said it launched airstrikes against the Islamic State group in Syria on Wednesday after Putin secured his parliament’s unanimous backing to intervene to prop up the Kremlin’s closest Middle East ally.

In addition to the contact with Israel, Moscow gave Washington an hour’s notice of the strikes, which set in motion Russia’s biggest play in the region since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, a U.S. official said. Targets in the Homs area appeared to have been struck, but not areas held by Islamic State, the U.S. official said. The Russian Defense Ministry said, however, that its attacks were directed at Islamic State military targets.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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Russia gave Israel advance notice of its air strikes in …

Written on October 3rd, 2015 & filed under Israel Tags: , , , , , , ,

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday rejected a call to host refugees from Syria and elsewhere, saying that while Israel is “not indifferent to the human tragedy of the refugees,” it is not in a position to take them in.

Netanyahu was responding to Israeli liberals led by opposition leader Isaac Herzog, who said Jewish history demands that the nation show compassion. Having themselves felt the worlds silence, Herzog said, Jews cannot remain indifferent to the carnage in Syria and the refugees plight.

Herzogs comments met with support from other liberal lawmakers such as Zehava Galon, who called for opening Israels gates to a token number of refugees from its violence-stricken northern neighbor.

In responding to such statements, Netanyahu stressed Israels medical care for over 1,000 injured Syrians, as well as efforts to aid African nations and thus stem the flow of migrants. However, he said that Israels lack of demographic and geographic depth requires controlling its borders against both illegal migrants and terrorism.

His reference to demographics referred to oft-expressed concerns in Israel about the country’s Jewish population being overwhelmed by non-Jews.

Israel’s 6.2 million Jews make up nearly 75% of the country’s population, with its Arab citizens comprising more than 20%. In addition, an estimated 4.6 million Palestinians live in occupied territories in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

NEWSLETTER:Get the day’s top headlines from Times Editor Davan Maharaj >>

For many Israeli Jews, even the smallest number of additional non-Jews is a potential threat, and the Syrian refugee crisis and the debate about Israels role has reawakened the countrys most deep-seated fear — that of losing the Jewish majority and subsequently the character of the Jewish state.

Even those in support of opening the gates to refugees say they mean 10,000 at the most, with some calling for a token action such as that taken by former Prime Minister Menachem Begin, who in 1977 took in about 70 refugees from Vietnam.

Nachman Shai, a lawmaker from Herzogs party, was among those who were adamant that Israel had an obligation to do something. We will not be able to solve the refugee problem but we cannot plug our ears and look away, he said.

However, Immigrant Absorption Minister Zeev Elkin accused Herzog of gambling on Israels strategic interests for the sake of one minute of favor in international media. He also expressed the fear that the refugee crisis could give Palestinians an opening to bring the so-called right of return, which would allow Palestinians to return to land they occupied before the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, in through the back door.

Transportation Minister Israel Katz said it would be a mistake for Israel to get involved in the Syrian civil war by taking in refugees. We are too close, too involved. We are not a European country, he said.

Sobelman is a special correspondent.


Inside the train to Germany: Wonder, fatigue and, for a moment, fear

U.S. response to refugee crisis is nowhere near that of Europe

After standoff in Hungary, thousands of Syrians arrive in Austria

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One country that won’t be taking Syrian refugees: Israel …

Each week we share a random video clip to fuel your travel dreams. This week, we take in the sights, sounds, and experiences that reward a curious tra…

Rick Steves

Author of European travel guidebooks and host of travel shows on public television and public radio

Given my long public record of correcting misperceptions about Islam and championing the rights of American Muslims, why was I consorting with the so-called “enemy”?

If GCC officials slowly pivot toward the perception that their long-term interests reside in an improved relationship toward Iran, such a strategic shift would be seen in Riyadh as an erosion of GCC unity against an emboldened Iran.

After five weeks in Israel, a couple of days after the war ended, I left the bubble — only to realize I had just reentered another. A benign bubble, for sure, substituting “rationality” for hatred, godless happiness for divine devotion, but a bubble nonetheless.

Uriel Abulof

Associate professor of politics, Tel-Aviv University; LISD Senior Research Fellow, Princeton Universitys Woodrow Wilson School

No doubt, the bombastic Donald is an unlikely president. Yet what may be most extraordinary about his campaign is that on foreign policy, at least, he may be the most sensible Republican in the race.

It’s imperative that the Jewish and Israel-loving community never succumb to battle-fatigue over the Iran deal and make things personal. Cory’s choice to vote for the Iran deal is not a personal betrayal or a display of disloyalty to the Jewish community.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

Rabbi Shmuley, “America’s Rabbi,” is the international best-selling author of 30 books and an award-winning TV host and columnist.

During my term as Israel’s Ambassador in Washington, I visited Pollard in his North Carolina prison. I did not find him defiant. I did not find him exasperated over why the U.S. reneged on its deal. I found only a fellow Jew in poor health and in need of liberty.

Danny Ayalon

Former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., Rennert Visiting Professor of Foreign Policy Studies at Yeshiva University

President Barack Obama and Governor Jerry Brown have both been pushing the envelope of efforts to bring climate change under control and running up against major ingrown opposition to their efforts.

A Republican former secretary of state and a Democratic “Jewish mother” may have just given us the strongest case yet for the nuclear agreement with Iran. The first is a pillar of the “realist” camp in the American national security establishment. The second is a rising star in the Democratic Party from a heavily Jewish district in South Florida. Together, they represent key constituencies whose support for the historic accord is critical to isolating right-wing opponents and preventing last-minute sabotage attempts. Together, they also lay out a compelling narrative of why the agreement is so important to American national security.

Joe Cirincione

President, Ploughshares Fund; Author, ‘Nuclear Nightmares: Securing the World Before It Is Too Late’

I could write you all the details of the high-pitched screams, the hitting, pinching and the pushing (all in the back seat), but that would be way too overwhelming and annoying.

Tosha Schore, M.A.

Teaching parents how to handle those rip-out-your-hair parenting moments.

I’m angry. As a woman film blogger, I need twice as much effort and talent to get a quarter of the recognition that my male counterparts receive. I notice it on a daily basis and I’ve grown to really hate it.

His behavior since July has provided strong evidence that he not only doesn’t care about bipartisan support for Israel but, rather, is actively working to swing Jewish support to the Republicans while virtually writing off, even deliberately alienating, traditionally pro-Israel liberal Democrats.

Paul Scham

Associate Research Professor of Israel Studies and Executive Director of the Gildenhorn Institute for Israel Studies at the University of Maryland

Israel’s multiple fault lines — secular vs. religious, Jewish vs. Palestine and controversial calls for a boycott of the Jewish state — are exploding on the soccer pitch.

James Dorsey

Senior fellow, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies

One could hardly blame liberal Jews for wanting to celebrate AIPAC’s defeat or for some Israeli’s to lament what they called “Netanyahu’s strategic blunder”. Both views, however, are nave and shortsighted. On several levels, Netanyahu won.

James Zogby

President, Arab American Institute; author, ‘Arab Voices’

My daughter, my eldest child, just had her first child– a baby boy. They live in Israel, and I flew over for his birth and to help afterwards. What w…

Dawn Q Landau

Mother, Writer, Traveler, Treasure Hunter and Sushi lover. Dawn was named a BlogHer “Voices of the Year” for 2015 and writes regularly on her blog: Tales From the Motherland.

Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee’s August campaign trip to Israel challenged longstanding U.S. policy towards Israel and the Palestinian territories.

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Israel: Pictures, Videos, Breaking News – Huffington Post

Written on September 11th, 2015 & filed under Israel Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

According to data compiled by The Jewish Agency for Israel and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, some 29,500 immigrants arrived in Israel in the Jewish year 5775, representing a 13% increase over the 26,000 who came in 5774.

Most of this years immigrants came from the former Soviet Union (some 14,100, compared to 10,800 last year) and Europe (more than 9,000, compared to 8,400 last year). Some 3.600 immigrants came to Israel from North America (similar to last years number) and 1,200 came from South America (a modest increase compared to last year).

The two largest sources of aliyah were France, with 7,350 immigrants compared to 6,700 in 5774 (a 10% increase), and Ukraine, with 6,900 immigrants compared to 4,600 last year (a 50% increase).

The Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption have been running programs in both countries in order to encourage aliyah and remove barriers to the immigrants integration in Israeli society. Aliyah from Russia also saw a significant 23% increase with the arrival of some 5,900 immigrants this year compared to 4,800 in 5774.

Also in Europe, some 690 immigrants arrived in Israel from the United Kingdom (a 13% increase when compared to the 612 who came last year), some 400 from Italy (a 30% increase, compared to 300 last year), and 290 from Belgium (similar to last years figure).

Immigrants to Israel came from 97 countries across the world. One immigrant each came from Andorra, Angola, Namibia, Paraguay, the Philippines, and Slovakia.

The Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel, Natan Sharansky, said: For the past few years, the majority of immigrants to Israel have been coming from free and democratic Western countries. These immigrants free choice to live in Israel, and their preference for Israel over other countries, is the true triumph of Zionism.

Minister of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption Zeev Elkin added: These figures, which show a significant increase in the number of immigrants to Israel, reinforce the overall picture that the year 2015 will represent a year of record aliyah for more than a decade. We estimate that, at this rate, by the end of the civil year we will reach between 30,000 and 35,000 immigrants. This is a window of opportunity that the State of Israel cannot miss. Therefore, we at the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, the government, and Israeli society in general are faced with a fascinating and compelling challenge, to both ensure that immigrants who arrive in Israel are well integrated and do whatever we can to increase activities to encourage aliyah.

Thousands of the new immigrants to Israel are young college graduates who came via specially created programs run by The Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption. Some 3,000 of the new immigrants work in engineering and technology, and more than 1,000 are doctors and other medical professionals. Some 70% of the new arrivals are under the age of 44, including some 7,800 who are 19 or younger and some 12,000 between the ages of 20 and 44.

As in previous years, the bulk of immigrants came during the summer, which saw the arrival of some 8,350 immigrants compared to the 7,160 who came last year (a 17% increase).

The three most popular destinations in Israel were Tel Aviv-Yafo, which welcomed some 3,500 new immigrants, the coastal city of Netanya with 3,400, and Jerusalem, which some 3,000 new immigrants made their home in 5775.

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Aliyah is Up: 29,500 Immigrants Arrived in Israel in 5775

Written on September 10th, 2015 & filed under Israel Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Arutz Sheva met with Yeshayahu Yechieli, the director of the NAALE Elite-Academy program, as he greeted new participants.

The NAALE program, which was established in 1992 as a joint initiative of the Prime Ministers Office and the Ministry of Education, invites Jewish high school students from around the world to study and to finish high school in Israel. The program is fully subsidized by the Israeli Ministry of Education.

NAALE is a program for studying, first of all, and when the program concludes after three or four years, [the students] can decide whether to stay here and become new olim, Yechieli told Arutz Sheva.

Around 90% of the students who finish the program choose to remain in Israel afterwards, he added, noting that sometimes the program encourages family members of the participants to make aliyah as well.

However, said Yechieli, Its not enough that Israel is attractive. Something has to push them out of their home countries, he added, citing as an example France, where there is growing interest for NAALE.

Those families decided, at the moment, not to make aliyah for different circumstances, but rather to send a boy or a girl from the family to Israel in advance, and I believe that if the children succeed here, their parents will follow, said Yechieli.

On the scene at the airport was also Dr. Benny Fisher, head of the Ministry of Education’s Rural Education and Youth Aliyah division, who told the new participants of the NAALE program:

We welcome you with open arms. You made a brave Zionist choice in your decision to come and study in Israel. The educational staff at the schools and boarding schools will do everything to provide you with warm support during your stay in Israel. You will undergo an extraordinary experience of high-class learning alongside social programs and an Israeli atmosphere. This is a period that you are sure to remember for the better for years to come.

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Youths Come to Learn in Israel; Next Stage Aliyah? – Inside Israel …

Written on September 5th, 2015 & filed under Israel Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

zrl, officially State of Israel, republic (2005 est. pop. 6,277,000, including Israelis in occupied Arab territories), 7,992 sq mi (20,700 sq km), SW Asia, on the Mediterranean Sea. (The area figure used above does not include the Golan Heights or the West Bank, which are occupied by Israel.) It is bordered by Lebanon in the north, Syria and Jordan in the east, the Mediterranean Sea on the west, Egypt on the southwest, and the Gulf of Aqaba (an arm of the Red Sea) on the south. The capital and largest city of Israel is Jerusalem. This article deals primarily with the events in Israel from 1948 to the present. For the earlier history of the region, see Palestine.

The country is a narrow, irregularly shaped strip of land with four principal regions: the plain along the Mediterranean coast; the mountains, which are east of this coastal plain; the Negev, which comprises the southern half of the country; and the portion of Israel that forms part of the Jordan Valley, in turn a part of the Great Rift Valley. North of the Negev, Israel enjoys a Mediterranean climate, with long, hot, dry summers and short, cool, rainy winters. This northern half of the country has a limited but adequate supply of water, except in times of drought. The Negev, however, is a semiarid desert region, having less than 10 in. (25 cm) of rainfall a year.

The most important river in Israel is the Jordan. Other smaller rivers are the Yarkon, the Kishon, and the Yarmuk, a tributary of the Jordan. Other bodies of water include the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea (part of which belongs to neighboring Jordan). Owing to interior drainage and a high rate of evaporation, the waters of the Dead Sea have about eight times as much salt as the ocean.

The highest point in Israel is Mt. Meron (3,692 ft/1,125 m) near Zefat. The lowest point is the shore of the Dead Sea, which is 1,345 ft (410 m) below sea level, the lowest point on the surface of the earth. In addition to Jerusalem, other important cities include Tel AvivJaffa (see separate entries on Tel Aviv, Jaffa), Haifa, Beersheba, and Netanya).

Israel proper is made up of about 82% Jews, about 16% Arabs, and 2% Druze and others. While the Jewish population as of 1948 consisted mostly of those from central and E Europe (not including Russia), Jews from African and Asian countries came in increasing numbers after 1948 and now constitute a majority of the Jewish population. Around 500,000 Russian Jews have arrived in recent years, as have most of the small population of Ethiopian Jews (see Falashas). The Arab population is primarily Sunni Muslim; a smaller proportion are Christians. Hebrew is the official language. Arabic is spoken by the Arab minority and English is widely used. Israel has major universities in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Beersheba, and Rehovot, as well as many smaller institutes of higher education located throughout the country.

The economy of Israel is based on both state and private ownership and operation. Despite adverse conditions, agriculture in Israel has been developed successfully, largely by extensive irrigation to compensate for the shortage of rainfall. Agricultural exports include citrus fruits, cut flowers, non-citrus fruits, and vegetables. Other sizable crops are cotton, wheat, barley, peanuts, sunflowers, grapes, and olives. Poultry and livestock are raised. Agricultural production adds up to roughly 5% of Israel’s gross national product and of its exports.

Most of the land (apart from the land belonging to non-Jews) is held in trust for the people of Israel by the state and the Jewish National Fund. The latter was set up in 1901 to buy land in Palestine for Jews to cultivate, and now implements a wide range of forest and land development activities. The Israel Land Authority leases the land to kibbutzim, which are communal agricultural settlements; to moshavim, which are cooperative agricultural communities; and to other agricultural or rural villages.

The major industries include the cutting and polishing of diamonds and the manufacture of chemical fertilizers, apparel, and military and electronic equipment. High-technology industries are Israel’s fastest-growing businesses, with emphasis on computers, software, telecommunications, biotechnology, and medical electronics. A number of light industries produce processed foods, precision instruments, and plastic goods. The Dead Sea has minerals of commercial value, such as potash, magnesium, bromine, and salt.

Another major industry is tourism, which is one of Israel’s largest sources of revenue. The government decided to privatize El Al, Israel’s international airline, in 1998. Two nuclear reactors exist: one near Tel Aviv, and another near Dimona in the Negev, the site of research on using atomic energy for the production of electricity and the desalination of seawater. Dimona has also been credited with nuclear weapons capacities.

Processed diamonds, high-technology and military products, and agricultural products are the major exports, followed by chemicals, pharmaceuticals, textiles, and apparel. The leading imports are military equipment, machinery, rough diamonds, crude oil, chemicals, transport equipment, iron and steel, and cereals. Although Israel imports more than it exports, the balance of trade is far more favorable now than it was in the early years of the state. Israel’s chief trading partners are the United States and nations in the European Union, especially Britain and Germany.

Israel has no constitution; it is governed under the 1948 Declaration of Establishment as well as parliamentary and citizenship laws. The government consists of a legislature (the Knesset), a president, a prime minister, and the cabinet. The Knesset has a single chamber with 120 seats. The president is elected by the Knesset. The prime minister appoints a cabinet that must be approved by the Knesset; both are responsible to the Knesset. The country is divided into six administrative districts ( mezoh ).

Israel has an intricate party system with a large number of small parties. The two largest are left-of center Labor party, formed in 1968 by the merger of Mapai (founded 1930), Achdut Avoda (1944), and Rafi (1965), and the center-right Likud bloc, consisting of Gahal (the Herut Movement and the Israel Liberal party), the former Free Center party, and other factions.

The state of Israel is the culmination of nearly a century of activity in Zionism. Following World War I, Great Britain received (1922) Palestine as a mandate from the League of Nations. The struggle by Jews for a Jewish state in Palestine had begun in the late 19th cent. and had become quite active by the 1930s and 40s. The militant opposition of the Arabs to such a state and the inability of the British to solve the problem eventually led to the establishment (1947) of the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine, which devised a plan to divide Palestine into a Jewish state, an Arab state, and a small internationally administered zone including Jerusalem. The General Assembly adopted the recommendations on Nov. 29, 1947. The Jews accepted the plan; the Arabs rejected it. As the British began to withdraw early in 1948, Arabs and Jews prepared for war.

On May 14, 1948, when the British high commissioner for Palestine departed, the state of Israel was proclaimed at Tel Aviv. Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, and Iraq invaded Israel, as most Palestinian Arabs were driven from Jewish territory. By the time armistice agreements were reached (Jan., 1949), Israel had increased its holdings by about one-half. Jordan annexed the Arab-held area adjoining its territory, and Egypt occupied the coastal Gaza Strip in the southwest.

A government was formed at Tel Aviv, with Chaim Weizmann as president and David Ben-Gurion as prime minister. The capital was moved (Dec., 1949) to Jerusalem to strengthen Israel’s claim to that city. Following the Lausanne Conference of 1949, Israel allowed the return of 150,000 Arab refugees, mostly to reunite families. One major aim of the government was to gather in all Jews who wished to immigrate to Israel. This led to the 1950 Law of the Return, which provided for free and automatic citizenship for all immigrant Jews. Border incidents with Egypt, Syria, and Jordan continued.

Trouble in the Gaza area reached new heights in the mid-1950s despite UN intervention, and in 1956, Egyptian President Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal. On Oct. 29, 1956, Israel made a preemptive attack on Egyptian territory and within a few days had conquered the Gaza Strip and the Sinai peninsula, while Britain and France invaded the area of the Suez Canal. Israel eventually yielded to strong pressure from the United States, the USSR, and the United Nations and removed its troops from Sinai in Nov., 1956, and from Gaza by Mar., 1957, as UN forces were sent to the Sinai and Gaza to keep peace between Egypt and Israel. Through this war, Israel succeeded in keeping open its shipping lanes via Elat and the Gulf of Aqaba to the Red Sea.

In 1962, Israel became the scene of the celebrated trial of Adolf Eichmann. In 1963, Ben-Gurion resigned as prime minister and was succeeded in that office by Levi Eshkol. Eshkol had to cope with increased guerrilla incursions into Israel from Syria and the shelling of Israeli villages by the Syrian army from the Golan Heights.

In May, 1967, Nasser mobilized the Egyptian army in Sinai. The UN then acceded to his demand to withdraw from the Israeli-Egyptian border, where it had been stationed since 1956. Egypt next blockaded the Israeli port of Elat (on the Gulf of Aqaba) by closing the Strait of Tiran.

On June 5, 1967, Israel struck against Egypt and Syria; Jordan subsequently attacked Israel. In six days, Israel occupied the Gaza Strip and the Sinai peninsula of Egypt, the Golan Heights of Syria, and the West Bank and Arab sector of E Jerusalem (both under Jordanian rule), thereby giving the conflict the name of the Six-Day War. Israel unified the Arab and Israeli sectors of Jerusalem, and Arab guerrillas stepped up their incursions, operating largely from Jordan. After Eshkol’s death in 1969, Golda Meir became prime minister. There followed an inconclusive period when there was neither peace nor war in the area.

On Oct. 6, 1973, on the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur, Egypt and Syria attacked Israeli positions in the Sinai and the Golan Heights. Other Arab states sent contingents of soldiers to aid in the attack on Israel. Egypt succeeded in sending troops in force across the Suez Canal to the east bank before being halted by Israeli troops. Toward the end of the fighting, the Israelis managed to send their own troops across the Suez Canal to the west bank, encircling Egypt’s Third Army on the east bank and clearing a path to Cairo. They also drove the Syrians even further back toward Damascus. A cease-fire called for by the UN Security Council on Oct. 22 and 23 went into effect shortly thereafter.

In Dec., 1973, the first Arab-Israeli peace conference opened in Geneva, Switzerland, under UN auspices. An agreement to disengage Israeli and Egyptian forces was reached in Jan., 1974, largely through the shuttle diplomacy mediation of U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Israeli troops withdrew several miles into the Sinai, a UN buffer zone was established, and Egyptian forces reoccupied the east bank of the Suez Canal and a small, adjoining strip of land in the Sinai. A similar agreement between Israel and Syria was achieved in May, 1974, again through the efforts of Kissinger. Under its terms, Israeli forces evacuated the Syrian lands captured in the 1973 war (while continuing to hold most of the territory conquered in 1967, such as the Golan Heights) and a UN buffer zone was created.

Golda Meir resigned and was succeeded (1974) by Yitzhak Rabin, who formed a coalition government. In 1977, the Likud party under the leadership of Menachem Begin defeated the Labor party for the first time in Israeli elections. As prime minister, Begin strongly supported the development of Jewish settlements in the Israeli-occupied territories and opposed Palestinian sovereignty.

Egypt began peace initiatives with Israel in late 1977, when Egyptian President Sadat visited Jerusalem. A year later, with the help of U.S. President Jimmy Carter, terms of peace between Egypt and Israel were negotiated at Camp David, Md. (see Camp David accords). A formal treaty, signed on Mar. 26, 1979, in Washington, D.C., granted full recognition of Israel by Egypt, opened trade relations between the two countries, returned the Sinai to Egyptian control (completed in 1982), and limited Egyptian military buildup in the Sinai.

Israeli troops briefly invaded (1979) Lebanon in an unsuccessful attempt to eliminate Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) bases and forces used in raids on N Israel. On June 6, 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon in a second attempt. Israeli troops advanced to Beirut and surrounded the western part of the city, which housed PLO headquarters, and a siege ensued. Israeli troops began a gradual move out of Lebanon (completed in 1985) after PLO forces withdrew from Beirut. A 6-mi (10-km) deep security zone within S Lebanon was established to protect N Israeli settlements.

Begin had been returned to office in 1981, but he resigned in 1983 and was replaced by Likud’s Yitzhak Shamir. Undecisive majorities in the 1984 elections led to a sharing of the prime ministership by Shamir and Shimon Peres of the Labor party. Shamir, who regained sole prime ministership after the 1988 elections, strongly upheld the policy of increased Jewish settlement in the occupied territories. Large numbers of emigrants from Ethiopia and, primarily, the Soviet Union increased Israel’s population by nearly 10% in three years (198992), leading to increased unemployment and a lack of housing.

In Dec., 1987, a popular Arab uprising (Intifada) began against Israeli rule in the occupied territories. During the Persian Gulf War in early 1991, Israel suffered Iraqi missile attacks, as Iraq unsuccessfully attempted to disrupt the allied coalition and widen the war. Peace talks between Israel, Syria, Lebanon, and a joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation began in Aug., 1991.

Rabin reentered the political scene in 1992, becoming prime minister after the defeat of the Likud party and the establishment of a Labor-led coalition. He pursued Arab-Israeli peace negotiations, in which significant progress was made. In 1993, Israel and the PLO signed an accord providing for joint recognition and for limited Palestinian self-rule in the Gaza Strip and Jericho. In 1995, Israel and the PLO agreed on a transition to Palestinian self-rule in most of the West Bank, although acts of terrorism continued to darken Israeli-Palestinian relations. In 1994 a treaty with Jordan ended the 46-year-old state of war between the two nations.

In Nov., 1995, Rabin was assassinated by a right-wing Israeli extremist who opposed the West Bank peace accord with the PLO; Peres, who was foreign minister, became prime minister. In early 1996, Israel was hit by a series of suicide bombs, and Shiite Muslims launched rocket attacks into Israel from Lebanon. Retaliating, Israel blockaded the port of Beirut and launched a series of attacks on targets in S Lebanon.

The 1996 elections, in which the prime minister was elected directly for the first time, resulted in a narrow victory for Likud’s Benjamin Netanyahu, who opposed Labor’s land-for-peace deals. In an attempt to allay fears about Israel’s future policies, Netanyahu pledged to continue the peace process. After setbacks and delays, most of Hebron was handed over to Palestinian control in Jan., 1997, and, under an accord signed in 1998, Israel agreed to withdraw from additional West Bank territory, while the Palestinian Authority pledged to take stronger measures to fight terrorism. Further negotiations over territory, however, were essentially stalled.

In the May, 1999, elections, Labor returned to power under Ehud Barak, a former army chief of staff. He formed a broad-based coalition government, promising to ease tensions between secular and ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel, as well as to move the peace process forward. In September, Barak and Yasir Arafat, the Palestinian leader, signed an agreement to finalize their borders and determine the status of Jerusalem within a year; Israel also began implementation of a plan to hand over additional West Bank territory, which was completed in Mar., 2000.

Barak’s coalition was weakened in May, 2000, when three right-of-center parties pulled out of the government. In the same month, Israeli forces withdrew from the buffer zone that had long been maintained in S Lebanon. In July, negotiations in the United States between Israel and the Palestinians ended without success, and Israeli-Palestinian relations turned extremely acrimonious when a September visit by Ariel Sharon to the Haram esh-Sherif (the Temple Mount to Jews) in Jerusalem sparked riots that escalated into a new, ongoing cycle of violence in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Israel itself. Barak resigned in Dec., 2000, in an attempt to reestablish a electoral mandate, but he was trounced in the Feb., 2001, election by Ariel Sharon, who formed a national unity government.

Despite Israeli military incursions into Palestinian territory and attacks on Palestinian authorities and forces, Palestinian attacks on Israelis in Israel and the occupied territories did not end, and in 2002 Sharon’s government ordered the reoccupation of West Bank towns in a new attempt to stop those attacks. In Oct., 2002, Labor members of the government accused Sharon of favoring Israeli settlers in the occupied territories over the poor, and withdrew their support. Left with a minority government, Sharon called for parliamentary elections in early 2003, and in January Likud won a substantial victory at the polls. The following month Sharon formed a four-party, mainly right-wing coalition government.

In May, 2003, Sharon’s government accepted the internationally supported road map for peace with some limitations; the plan envisioned the establishment of a Palestinian state in three years. Talks resumed with Palestinian authorities, who also negotiated a three-month cease-fire with Palestinian militants, and Israel made some conciliatory moves in Gaza and the West Bank. Suicide bombings and Israeli revenge attacks resumed, however, in August, and in October Israel attacked Syria for the first time in 20 years, bombing what it termed a terrorist training camp in retaliation for suicide bombings.

Israel’s ongoing construction of a 400-mi (640-km) fence and wall security barrier in the West Bank, potentially enclosing some 15% of that territory, brought widespread international condemnation in late 2003, and a July, 2004, advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice (requested by Palestinians and the UN General Assembly) termed its construction illegal under international law because it was being constructed on Palestinian lands. Meanwhile, an Israeli court ruling (June) ordered the wall to be rerouted in certain areas because of the hardship it would cause Palestinians.

In March the killing of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin heightened tensions in the occupied territories, especially the Gaza Strip. Sharon’s plan to withdraw from the latter, while supported by most Israelis, was rejected in a nonbinding vote (May, 2004) by Likud party members. The plan then resulted in defections from his coalition, but Sharon vowed to complete the withdrawal, which was being undertaken for security reasons, by the end of 2005. In Oct., 2004, he secured parliamentary approval for the plan. The plan also called for abandoning a few settlements in the West Bank while expanding others there. Sharon formed a new coalition that included the Labor party, which supported the Gaza withdrawal, in Jan., 2005. He subsequently agreed to a truce with Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, and in Mar., 2005, Israeli forces began withdrawing from Jericho and other West Bank towns. The planned Gaza withdrawal sparked protests by settlers and their allies beginning in June, but in August the evacuation of the settlements proceeded relatively straightforwardly. Israeli troops withdrew from Gaza the following month.

In Nov., 2005, Shimon Peres lost his Labor party leadership post to Amir Peretz, a trade union leader. Peretz pulled Labor from the government, prompting new elections, and Sharon withdrew from Likud to form the centrist Kadima [Forward] party, in an attempt to force a realignment of Israeli politics and retain the prime ministership. In Jan., 2006, however, Sharon suffered an incapacitating stroke and was hospitalized. Ehud Olmert, the deputy prime minister, became acting prime minister and leader of the new party.

The Kadima party won a plurality in the Mar., 2006, elections, with Labor placing second. In April, Sharon was declared permanently incapacitated; Olmert became prime minister, and in May formed a new coalition government. Escalating rocket attacks from Gaza and the capture by Hamas guerrillas of an Israeli soldier led to an Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip in June, 2006, as well as other actions against Hamas and the Palestinians. Israel continue to mount attacks into Gaza in the succeeding months.

In July, Lebanese Hezbollah forces captured two Israeli soldiers, and Israel launched air attacks against targets throughout Lebanon and sent troops as far as 18.5 mi (30 km) into S Lebanon; Hezbollah responded mainly with rocket attacks against N Israel, including Haifa and Tiberias, but also offered resistance on the ground against Israeli forces. A UN-mediated cease-fire took effect in mid-August, and by early October Israel had essentially withdrawn from Lebanon. The invasion’s aim of disarming Hezbollah and winning the release of the captured Israeli soldiers was in the main unattained, and Hezbollah’s sustained resistance to Israeli forces enhanced the group’s prestige in the Arab world. Amnesty International accused both sides of war crimes in the fighting, mainly because of their attacks on civilians.

As a result of the fighting in Gaza and Lebanon and the rise of Hamas in the Palestinian Authority, Olmert suspended his planned unilateral withdrawal from parts of the West Bank, and brought (Oct,. 2006) a far-right party into his government to strengthen the coalition in the Knesset. Also in October, Israeli police accused Israeli President Moshe Katsav of sexual assault and other crimes, prompting an investigation and leading to calls for Katsav to resign (which he refused to do). The Israeli group Peace Now asserted in November that, according to government documents, nearly 40% (and perhaps more) of the land on which Israel’s West Bank settlements were built was privately owned Palestinian land, in violation of Israeli law. More current information given by the government to the group in Mar., 2007, indicated that private land made up more than 30% of the settlements but did not indicate how much was Palestinian-owned (the vast bulk of the private land in the first set of documents was Palestinian).

In Jan., 2007, the head of the Israeli armed forces resigned, taking responsibility for the unsuccessful anti-Hezbollah campaign of 2006; his resignation led the opposition to call for the prime minister and defense minister to resign as well. (An independent report, released in Apr., 2007, was critical of the prime minister’s and defense minister’s handling of the invasion.) Late in Jan., 2007, Katsav secured a suspension of his duties as president after Israel’s attorney general said he was considering charging Katsav with rape and other crimes; a plea deal in June allowed him to plead guilty to lesser charges and avoid prison but forced him to resign. Shimon Peres was elected president earlier the same month.

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Israel – The Washington Post

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