June 25, 2008
Israel cabinet to vote on Hezbollah swap, Canada downplays reports of Hezbollah sleepers
Cabinet to Vote on Hezbollah Swap
Ehud Olmert will ask his Cabinet on Sunday to approve a prisoner swap with Hezbollah.
Karnit Goldwasser, whose husband, Ehud, and fellow Israeli soldier Eldad Regev were abducted by the Lebanese militia in a July 2006 border raid, said Tuesday following a meeting with the prime minister that a deal for their return was in place.
She said Olmert told her that his Cabinet would vote on the deal at its weekly session Sunday. Goldwasser, who offered no details on the deal, said she hopes it will be approved.
Security sources said Israel would release five jailed Lebanese terrorists and repatriate the bodies of some 10 slain infiltrators in exchange for the soldiers, whose condition is not known.
Israel Names Its First Female U.N. Envoy
A former associate law professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem was named Israel's first female U.N. ambassador.
Gabriella Shalev will replace Dan Gillerman, who is expected to wrap up his tenure in the coming weeks, Ynet reported.
Shalev, the rector at Ono Academic College, is considered one of the world's foremost experts on contract law.
The appointment comes after a reported battle between Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who favored former New York Consul-General Alon Pinkas.
Canada Downplays Reports of Hezbollah Sleepers
Canadian Jewish officials are downplaying news reports that Hezbollah operatives are training near Toronto and plan to attack.
The American ABC News leaked details last week of an ongoing international intelligence investigation with allegations that up to 20 "sleeper cell" suspects from Hezbollah were activated, including a "weapons expert" spotted at a firing range south of Toronto.
Officials told ABC that suspected Hezbollah operatives have conducted surveillance recently on the Israeli Embassy in Ottawa and on several synagogues in Toronto.
Bernie Farber, the CEO of the Canadian Jewish Congress, said there has been "chatter" since the assassination of a Hezbollah leader in February, but that authorities said there is nothing to lead them to believe the reports are true.
"Our belief is that our federal authorities have things in hand," Farber told the Toronto Star. "They've known about this alleged threat for a while, they've investigated it, and they've told me categorically that while the chatter is out there, and it has been for a while, there is nothing to lead them to believe that there's anything imminent or that in fact the chatter is real."
Farber added, though, that it is always better to be on the safe side, "so we will ensure that our community institutions are alerted."
Atomic Energy Team Begins Syria Inspections
The United Nations nuclear watchdog began an investigation into an alleged Syrian reactor bombed by Israel.
A team from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) flew out to Damascus on Sunday for 72 hours of talks and inspections.
The experts are to visit al-Kibar, a remote site in northern Syria, which Israeli warplanes destroyed last September and the United States has described as a North Korean-designed reactor.
Syria has denied having a secret nuclear facility but, in a move widely perceived as aimed at covering up evidence, bulldozed over al-Kibar soon after the Israeli attack.
Damascus admitted the IAEA inspectors after months of prevarication. There have been calls abroad for several other suspect sites in Syria to be inspected, but the IAEA is for now only being granted access to al-Kibar.
Second Plot to Kill Ahmadinejad Alleged
A plot to assassinate Mahmoud Ahmadinejad earlier this month in Italy failed, an Iranian daily reported.
An adviser to the Iranian president told the Etemad-e Melli daily newspaper of a plot to assassinate Ahmadinejad during a three-day U.N. food crisis summit in Rome on June 3, according to Reuters.
The report published Tuesday comes just days after Ahmadinejad accused the United States of a plot to kill him during a March visit to Iraq. Iranian state radio said the president changed his schedule at the last minute to foil the plot.
Audit: Israel's Holocaust Survivors Cheated
Holocaust survivors in Israel have received less than two-thirds of the German reparations allotted to them, an audit found.
A report issued Sunday by a commission of inquiry under retired Supreme Court Justice Dalia Dorner found that of the Holocaust reparations paid to Israel under a 1952 deal with Germany, only about 62 percent found their way to survivors living in the Jewish state.
On average, each survivor was underpaid by an aggregate $400,000 to $700,000, the Dorner Commission concluded. It urged the state to make compensation available to entitled recipients who are still alive.
The commission was established following revelations last year that many Holocaust survivors in Israel are destitute because of shortfalls in the welfare payouts they receive from the state.
Bronze Chanukiah Stolen in Rio
A bronze chanukiah sculpture was stolen from a major square in Rio de Janeiro.
The 6 1/2-foot-tall chanukiah, which weighs 440 pounds, adorned the beachfront square, Zozimo Barroso do Amaral, in the Brazilian city's wealthiest neighborhood of Leblon.
Created by the artist Ruthnac, the Jewish symbol had been donated by the Beit Lubavitch Synagogue and a Jewish-owned construction company in 2002.
Police suspect the theft took place one night last week and are investigating.
Orthodox Imposter Gets Year in Jail
A man who impersonated an ultra-Orthodox Jew for years was given a prison sentence for using a stolen identity.
Ted Riley Floyd caused a stir earlier this year when it was discovered that he had lived as Nathaniel James Levi with his wife and children in the Orthodox enclave of Lakewood, N.J. While in Wichita, Kan., in March 2002, Floyd applied for a passport with the name and Social Security number of Levi, a deceased U.S. Navy veteran.
Floyd, 28, was sentenced Monday to a year and a day in prison followed by three years of probation, the Wichita Eagle reported. Floyd, a former resident of Kansas City, also is barred from using any name but his own or from legally changing his name without permission from his probation officer.
Friends of the family say Floyd's wife will remain in Lakewood, where she has undergone an Orthodox conversion.
Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency.