Palestine and Israel have agreed to meet in Jordan for their first talk in over one year. Analysts are skeptical as to whether the countries will be able to move forward in peace talks.
Israeli envoy Yitzhak Molcho and Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat are set to meet today in Jordan, along with international mediators. Erekat spoke with The Associated Press yesterday and said, “We hope that the Israeli government would reciprocate the Jordanian efforts by announcing cessation of settlement activities and the acceptance of the concept of the two-state solution.”
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a statement saying, “We welcome and support this positive development. We are hopeful that this direct exchange can help us move forward on the pathway proposed by the Quartet.” more >>
A transgender man has shocked Israelis by becoming the first in the Middle East country to give birth to a baby, similar to a case involving a transgender U.S. man who had three children.
Yuval Topper, who reportedly stunned hospital staff in September when he showed up in the emergency room seven months pregnant, has recently given birth, the Israeli news site reports. Ynetnews did not reveal the sex of the baby, which was delivered at Sheba Medical Center.
The Jewish tradition of Hanukkah begins at sundown tonight, with festivities planned across the globe.
Here in the United States, the National Menorah will be lit near the White House at 4:00 p.m., when the sun is expected to set. According to the National Menorah Council, this particular menorah is the largest in the world and “is the essence of the celebration – to proclaim and celebrate the miracle of Chanukah (sic) – The Festival of Lights in the most public manner possible.”
This celebration is traced back to 165 BCE, after a lengthy battle for freedom. In 168 BCE, Antiochus IV was ruler, and under his leadership, the historic Temple was robbed and hundreds of Jews massacred. Judaism itself was prohibited by the Seleucid government. Antiochus IV died in 166 BCE, and Judah Maccabees rose to power. more >>
Howard Gutman, the U.S. ambassador to Belgium, set off a fire storm Monday morning after he made comments regarding the origin of anti-Semitism.
The American press got hold of Gutman’s statements this week which were reportedly made last Wednesday, after Yedioth Ahronoth, an Israeli newspaper, first broke the story. Gutman, a Jew, was speaking at a Jewish conference on the topic of anti-Semitism. The conference was organized by the European Jewish Union.
His remarks sought to make a distinction between “traditional” anti-Semitism and anti-Semitism brought about by the “ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.” more >>
Iceland became the first western European country to recognize Palestine as an independent state. The Icelandic parliament passed the motion this week with 38 of 63 votes in favor of recognizing Palestine as a sovereign state.
The Icelandic minister for foreign affairs Ossur Skarphedinsson, told RUV, the Icelandic national broadcasting service, "Iceland is the first country in western Europe to take this step." He also said the vote gives him the authority to make a formal declaration on the government’s behalf regarding Palestine, but that he will discuss it further with other Nordic countries.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas sent out a message after the vote, which Palestinian UN observer Riyad Mansour read at the UN headquarters. The message reaffirmed Palestine’s bid for UN membership, saying it would help complement peace negotiations, but only if Israel is prepared to negotiate on the basis of the 1967 borders. more >>
The Israeli government has given Christians a path to follow their savior's footsteps through the Holy Land.
Israel's Ministry of Tourism has opened the "Gospel Trail," a 37-mile route from Jesus' birthplace in Nazarus to Capernaum, the main focus of his ministry and a city on the Sea of Galilee, according to The Jerusalem Post. The $700,000 trail was constructed by the Ministry and the Jewish National Fund as a means of transcending tourism with a powerful spiritual experience based on Christ's life.
"In recent years we looked at which target audience we could work with, and we decided that first and foremost is the Christian world," Stas Misezhnikov, Israel's minister of tourism, told the Post. "We are creating a revolution in tourism to Israel. So it is a real honor to invite the entire Christian world to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and walk in the same places he walked." more >>