JERUSALEM (Reuters) – A bitter mayoral race in a town that has become a symbol of religious and political divisions in Israel ended on Wednesday with the victory of its ultra-Orthodox Jewish incumbent over his secular challenger.
Moshe Abutbul won the re-vote in Beit Shemesh, a town near Jerusalem that has become a focus of national attention in the Jewish state where secular-religious tensions often flare.
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel approved a change to electoral law on Tuesday that raises the percentage of votes needed for seats in parliament, an amendment that critics said targets Arab and ultra-Orthodox Jewish minorities.
The opposition in the Knesset, or parliament, boycotted the 67-0 vote which supporters said will bring greater stability to government. Many of Israel’s governing coalitions have fallen or were disbanded before the end of their terms due to unsustainable alliances among ultranationalist, religious, centrist and left-wing legislators.
BEIT SHEMESH, Israel (Reuters) – When this Israeli town goes to the polls on Tuesday, the vote may decide more than a bitter mayoral race. Many see it as a bellwether for the strained secular-religious relations throughout the Jewish state.
Municipal votes rarely raise passions in Israel, but this one – a rerun of an election last October – is different. Two courts ordered it after finding voter fraud in the original ballot that returned the ultra-Orthodox mayor to office.
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Two gunmen on a motorcycle killed a man as he drove near Tel Aviv’s bustling beachfront on Saturday, in what Israeli police suspected was the latest in a wave of gangland murders and attacks.
The drive-by shooting took place in broad daylight, as families and tourists walked nearby on the afternoon of the Jewish Sabbath.
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Trying humor over hectoring, Israeli ultra-nationalists have lampooned U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in a video campaign against his troubled quest for peace between the Jewish state and the Palestinians.
The two-minute-long YouTube clip features an actor playing a buffoonish Kerry as he tours the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, areas where Palestinians seek statehood but which Israel sees as a Jewish birthright and security buffer.
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel’s Finance Ministry said on Wednesday it was cutting funds to seminary students exempt from compulsory military service, in the latest battle between the Jewish state’s secular majority and an ultra-Orthodox minority.
Seminary students, many of whom rely on state stipends, have for decades been excused from army service under blanket exemptions that have long stoked resentment in a country whose other Jewish citizens are called to duty at the age of 18.
ISRAEL-EGYPT BORDER (Reuters) – Israel’s newly fortified Egyptian border has delivered a severe blow to drug smugglers, forcing its hashish and marijuana smokers to deal with a new kind of high – soaring prices.
The ravines that snake past rocky red mountains once provided a popular, low-risk route for traffickers to run drugs, women and African migrants into Israel over the southern frontier along Egypt’s Sinai desert.
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel has summoned envoys from four European states to protest their “one-sided” stand in favor of the Palestinians, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Friday, escalating a quarrel over Israeli settlements.
On Thursday, Britain, France, Italy and Spain called in Israeli ambassadors to hear protests against Israel’s latest announcement of settlement-building on land the Palestinians want for a future state.
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel’s defense minister called U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s quest for Israeli-Palestinian peace messianic, a newspaper said on Tuesday, reporting what it described as remarks made behind closed doors.
Moshe Yaalon’s spokesman declined comment on the account in Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel’s biggest-selling newspaper.
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – An Israeli woman appealed to the Supreme Court on Wednesday against a rabbinical ruling that ordered her to circumcise her one-year-old son, the Justice Ministry said, in the first case of its kind.
There is no law in Israel making circumcision obligatory for Jews, but a rabbinical court that was presiding over the woman’s divorce case ruled last month that she must fulfill her husband’s wish in the matter.