October 16, 2008
Briefs: Kadima sends coalition plan to Labor, budget woes close colleges
Kadima Sends Draft Coalition Pact to Labor
Labor would be the senior partner in a new government, according to a draft coalition agreement reportedly sent on by Kadima. Associates of Prime Minister-designate Tzipi Livni reportedly passed the draft agreement Sunday to the Labor Party.
Israeli media are reporting that the agreement will serve as the basis for continuing talks between the ruling Kadima and Labor.
A deal between the two parties is expected soon.
According to Ynet, the agreement would make Labor the senior partner in the new government, with its chairman, Ehud Barak, serving as a senior deputy prime minister and playing a significant role in negotiations with Syria. Barak reportedly is concerned that the Shas party will not join a Livni-led government, and that Labor will be stuck in a government with a narrow ruling coalition, thereby hamstringing the party.
Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, the chairman of the Likud Party, met Monday with Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the spiritual leader of Shas, to encourage him not to join a Livni government. Livni has until Oct. 20 to form a new coalition government, although she can ask President Shimon Peres for a two-week extension.
West Bank Closed for Sukkot
The West Bank is under a general closure for the Sukkot holiday. The Israel Defense Forces sealed off the area at midnight Sunday. It will remain closed until Oct. 21, according to a statement from the IDF spokesman's office. Palestinians will be allowed to move in and out of the area for humanitarian and medical reasons only with authorization of the army's district coordinator.
"The IDF regards the Festival of Tabernacles as a highly sensitive time," according to the statement. "Accordingly, the IDF will be on higher alert in order to ensure the safety of the citizens of Israel, while preserving, to the best of its ability, the daily routine of the Palestinian population."
Meanwhile, on Sunday night, the IDF arrested three Palestinians carrying nine pipe bombs at an army checkpoint near Nablus, preventing a planned terror attack on Israel.
Synagogue Near Temple Mount Reopened
The Ohel Yitzhak Synagogue near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Muslim Quarter was abandoned in 1938 by a group of haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Jews called the Shomrei Hachomot, or Guardians of the Walls, in the face of Arab violence.
It is also known as the Ungarin Shul since it was founded by Hungarian Jews in 1904, according to the Jerusalem Post. American philanthropists Irving and Cherna Moskowitz bought the property rights to the synagogue, which is located about 100 yards from the Temple Mount, and funded the refurbishing. The Temple Mount, home also to the Dome of the Rock mosque, has been at the center of tension between Jews and Arabs, particularly in the past two decades.
Israeli Universities Say They Can't Reopen
Cutbacks will prevent Israeli universities from opening for the new academic year, according to the university heads. With more money slashed from the Finance Ministry's budget for higher education, the universities will not open Nov. 2 as scheduled, representatives of the country's universities told an emergency session of the Knesset Education Committee on Sunday.
"After seven years of continual cutbacks we have reduced the number of courses, we have raised the number of students in classes and we have banished an entire generation of lecturers overseas," Rivka Carmi, the president of Ben-Gurion University in the Negev, told the committee. "We're not issuing a threat not to open the academic year; we simply can't open the year."
The threat was made just a week after The Hebrew University of Jerusalem was ranked 93rd in the world by the Times Higher Education survey, jumping 35 places since last year.
Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency.