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New Housing Campaign for Immigrants


The Ministry of Immigrant Absorption launched a housing campaign for new immigrants eligible for public housing apartments, according to a statement on their website.

New immigrants who arrived in Israel before Dec. 31, 2008, meet the criteria for public housing, and have been waiting several years for placement can apply for an apartment.

US-Israel Talks in Paris Aborted

By BBC News

A meeting between Israel's prime minister and a senior US envoy has been cancelled amid growing differences over settlement building in the West Bank. Yediot Aharonot said the US put off the meeting in response to Binyamin Netanyahu's refusal to heed US demands to halt settlement activity.

But Netanyahu's aides said it was the prime minister who cancelled Thursday's meeting with George Mitchell in Paris. They said "more professional work" was needed, without adding further details. Instead, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak is now scheduled to travel to Washington on Monday to meet Mitchell.

State Department officials confirmed that the bilateral talks in Paris had been postponed, but they did not explain why it was necessary for their envoy to see Barak on Monday instead.

President Barack Obama has called for a freeze on construction of settlements, which are widely viewed as illegal under international law. Netanyahu has said he will not build additional enclaves in occupied Palestinian territory - but he wants to continue building within existing settlements to foster what Israel views as their "natural growth."

Israeli anti-settlement group Peace Now said on Wednesday that the rise in settler numbers is considerably greater than the birth-rate. They cite figures from Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics which show that 36 percent of all new settlers in 2007 had moved from Israel or abroad.

About 300,000 Israelis live in settlements in the West Bank and another 180,000 in East Jerusalem. These were among the Arab territories recaptured by Israel in the 1967 war.

The number of Jewish settlers in the West Bank was 116,300 in 1993 - when Israel and the Palestinians signed the landmark Oslo accords in which both sides undertook not to take any action that would undermine negotiations towards a permanent resolution.

The Palestinian Authority wants to establish a future Palestinian state in the whole of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip - currently ruled by the rival terrorist Hamas movement.

Netanyahu finally bowed to US pressure to endorse the principle of Palestinian statehood in a speech 10 days ago, but he put a raft of conditions on its creation which Palestinian leaders called unacceptable.

Israel Keeps Anxious Eye on Iran Turmoil 0By AFP

Israel is keeping an anxious eye on the turmoil in Iran for any signs on what the crisis may mean for its arch-enemy's nuclear drive, which the Jewish state sees as the top threat to its security.

"What is happening in Iran has a direct influence on every Israeli," said Ely Karmon of the Interdisciplinary Centre in Herzliya, near Tel Aviv. "For many years Iran has supported most of the terrorism against Israel" and threatens "to destroy Israel, to raze it from the map."

Israel, the region's sole if undeclared nuclear-armed state, believes -- as does the West -- that Iran is seeking to acquire a nuclear arsenal, despite Tehran's repeated denials. Israel also regularly accuses the Islamic republic of supporting the Lebanese Hizbullah terrorists and Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist rulers of the Gaza Strip.

The idea that these movements could be given some kind of "psychological nuclear umbrella" is particularly worrying to Israel, said Shlomo Aronson, an Iran expert at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

The Mossad spy agency believes Iran will have a ready-to-launch nuclear bomb within five years -- unless its nuclear program is interrupted -- while Israeli officials have not ruled out using the use of military force.

"The Israelis want two main targets: first is stopping Iran from having the bomb and second to stop Iranian support for terrorist organizations," said Menashe Amir, head of Israeli radio's Persian-language service.

During Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's first four-year term, the combative president put Iran on a collision course with the West, defying UN Security Council calls for a halt to uranium enrichment despite three sets of sanctions. He also triggered fear in Israel and outrage in the West over his calls for the Jewish state to be wiped off the map and repeatedly calling the Holocaust a myth.

While Ahmadinejad reportedly defeated rival Mir Hossein Mousavi, regarded as more moderate, with calls for Iran to improve its relations with the outside world, he has said he would continue to pursue the nuclear drive. "There is no big difference between Ahmadinejad and Mir Hossein Mousavi because Mousavi declared very clearly... he would continue the nuclear program," Amir said.

In any event, strategic decisions including nuclear policy remain in the hands of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has openly supported Ahmadinejad's re-election.

But Amir said that if Mousavi, a post-revolution era premier behind widespread protests at vote-rigging in the June 12 election, eventually emerged as president: "It may give European countries the wrong impression that Iran will stop the nuclear program."

Israel is seeking to rally international opinion against Tehran and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is currently on his first official trip to Europe, where he is pressing for a tightening of sanctions against Iran. "I think the true nature of the Iranian regime has been unmasked," Netanyahu told Germany's Bild newspaper. "This is a regime that represses its own people, supports terrorism worldwide and openly denies the Holocaust, while calling for the elimination of Israel."

Israel's Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv said: "Even had Mousavi been elected he would have continued to lead Iran's nuclear program and the hostile attitude towards Israel.

"Therefore, Israel has a certain advantage in Ahmadinejad's re-election. With Ahmadinejad as president, it is easier to explain the significance of the Iranian threat," he said.

A Tel Aviv University opinion poll showed 81 percent of Israelis believe Iran will acquire the bomb, 51 percent favor an immediate attack against Iranian nuclear sites, while 49 percent believe in the use of diplomatic means.

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