Mideast Report

JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Israeli Knesset committee has approved the sale of 49 percent of Israel's national airline.

The decision must still be approved by the Cabinet and Knesset Finance Committee.

Transportation Minister Shaul Yahalom, who said he expected the sale to take place within the next year, said that despite interest from major investors, shares in El Al would be offered publicly over the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.

The sale is part of the Israeli government's plan to privatize a large part of the state's industrial sector, but it would leave the government as the majority shareholder in El Al and El Al planes would still be banned from flying on Shabbat.

Meanwhile, El Al has joined other airlines in declaring all of its flights smoke-free. The new policy went into effect this week and will apply to all flights on the airline's routes. Airline officials decided to adopt the no-smoking policy after a poll of passengers showed that 89 percent were interested in having smoke-free flights.

Two Israelis killed in Lebanon fighting

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Hezbollah guerrillas killed two Israelis in the southern Lebanon security zone. The deaths of Staff Sgt. Yehuda Salem and Staff Sgt. Avraham Limoy, part of a new round of violence in southern Lebanon, came as an official with the militant Islamic group said it would continue to attack the "Zionist enemy."

The casualties came after a week of tensions in southern Lebanon in which four soldiers with the Israel-allied South Lebanon Army were killed and several Lebanese civilians wounded by Hezbollah fire.

TV editors reinstated after falsifying report

JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Israeli court ordered the new director of the Israel Broadcasting Authority to reinstate two television news editors whom he had ordered removed from their jobs.

The disciplinary actions followed an apparently doctored report in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to encourage chants of "Death to Arabs" when he appeared at a rally of supporters of the Betar Jerusalem soccer team.

Even Israelis need Jewish identity

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel's Conservative movement launched two new programs to boost Jewish identity in the Jewish state.

The Jerusalem-based Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies inaugurated the Center for Ethics, Social Concern and Public Policy, which will use Judaic sources to promote humanistic values. The institute also launched a new master's program in Tel Aviv that will train 25 secular educators each year to teach Judaic studies in secular public schools.

The Schechter Institute for Jewish Studies is the new name of the Seminary of Judaic Studies, the Conservative movement's advanced Judaic studies institute in Israel.