ISRAEL: 7 DAYS IN 5 MINUTES
ALL THE WEEK’S NEWS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT
THE UNITED States wants to hold a peace summit at the Egyptian resort of Sharm -el-Sheikh as part of President Bush’s visit to Israel next month for the 60th anniversary celebrations. US diplomats see the meeting as a continuation of the process begun in the Annapolis conference last year. Tony Blair, Mikhail Gorbachev, Rupert Murdoch and Barbra Streisand — who will perform the Avinu Malkeinu prayer — are also expected to visit Israel for the celebrations.
ISRAELI PRIME Minister Ehud Olmert met Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in Jerusalem for their first talks in nearly two months. Mr Abbas had broken off their talks after an IDF incursion into Gaza last month to combat Kassam fire in which some 120 Palestinians, including many civilians, were killed.
THREE ISRAELI youths were arrested in Japan after what local police called “an unprecedented amount” of drugs were found hidden in their suitcases. Their lawyer said that the youths — one of whom is under 18 — were recruited by a man who offered to pay for their tickets if they flew to Amsterdam where they would be given a suitcase full of “ancient artifacts” to take to Japan.
FORMER US president Jimmy Carter is to visit Syria this month and hold meetings with exiled Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, according to reports in the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper. The reports were not immediately denied by the former president’s office.
TWO MEMBERS of the Palestinian Olympic team have been allowed to travel between the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and Jerusalem in a rare easing of restrictions so they can prepare for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Runner Nader Masri, from the Gaza Strip, will be able to train in Jericho, and swimmer Zakiya Nassar, unable to train in her home city of Jenin as it has no pool, will be able to travel to Jerusalem.
ISRAEL’S ECONOMY lost more than 2.5 million work days last year because of strikes. According to Employment, Trade and Industry Ministry data, in 2007 there were 2,548,627 strike days, nearly 200 times the number of strike days the previous year.
A NEW community planned for families evacuated from Gush Katif in 2005 would be an environmental disaster, according to an Interior Ministry report. If Mirsham, in the Lachish region, were to be built it “would harm treasures of nature, landscape, and heritage”, according to the study.
THE JERUSALEM office of Ram FM Peace Radio — an English-language station based in Ramallah which aims to build ties between Israelis and Palestinians — was raided and shut down by Israeli police for broadcasting without a permit. Police are considering whether to take further action.
WHAT IS believed to be the oldest gate in the world, built around 1,850 BCE as part of fortifications in the city of Ashkelon, has been restored in a $700,000 (£350,000) project. The Canaanite gate, constructed of bricks and limestone, is 15 metres long, more than two metres wide and almost four metres high.
A LANDMARK ruling by the Tel Aviv District Court has recognised childcare expenses as a factor in calculating working mothers’ income tax liability.“I expect we will be forced to appeal the ruling,” Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On told Army Radio.
AUTHORS JONATHAN Safran Foer, Anita Diamant, Nicole Krauss and Nathan Englander are to visit Israel in May for the first International Writers Festival. The event, to be held at the Mishkenot Sha’ananim conference centre, will also include South African Nobel prizewinner Nadine Gordimer and will be attended by a number of renowned Israeli authors.
THE 100-STRONG Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theatre has embarked on an Israel-wide tour and will perform concerts by European as well as Georgian composers.
NEXT MONTHS’ Holon music festival will be dedicated to the Beatles, with three days of cover performances by Israeli stars in Hebrew and English, as well as lectures and films. The annual spring festival is hosted by the city’s Steinberg Center for the Arts.
A SPECIAL production of Madame Butterfly opened at the Israel Opera this week. Polish director Mariusz Trelinski’s version of the Puccini classic launched a Polish Season and a series of bilateral cultural events.
THREE BRITISH bands from the rock’n’roll era of the 1960s are to play in Israel in a special event to mark the country’s 60th anniversary. The Animals, Marmalade, and Herman’s Hermits will take part in an Afula gig in the town’s newly-opened Amphi-Park during Shavuot.
FANS OF Jerusalem’s Smadar Cinema celebrated its 80th anniversary with a two-day festival. The venue was established in 1928 by a German architect.
Herman’s Hermits plan to rock out in Afula