Shorts: mideast

Sign up for Weekday J and get the latest on what's happening in the Jewish Bay Area.

Israel’s top court to rule on fence

jerusalem (jta) | Israel’s Supreme Court heard petitions Monday, Feb. 9, against the West Bank security fence.

A three-justice panel weighed arguments that the fence violates the rights of Palestinians whose lands were appropriated for the fence’s construction. The state defended the fence as a deterrent to Palestinian terrorists.

Justice Ministry sources said prosecutors saw the session in Jerusalem as a “dress rehearsal’ for defending Israel’s policies at the International Court of Justice at The Hague, where hearings on the fence’s legality are scheduled for Monday, Feb. 23.

In the meantime, Israel says it is adjusting the route of the West Bank fence so it will not separate Palestinian towns. On Sunday, Feb. 8, Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper reported that the new route would shorten the fence by some 63 miles.

Sharon has surgery for kidney stones

jerusalem (jps) | Prime Minister Ariel Sharon successfully underwent a procedure Monday night, Feb. 9, to remove kidney stones, the same day his government barely survived a Knesset no-confidence vote.

The 47-45 vote defeated a motion protesting the diplomatic and economic situation in Israel. Some Knesset members said they only voted against the resolution to support Sharon during his illness.

Sharon, 76, was expected to be released from Sheba Hospital at Tel Hashomer later this week.

The kidney stones, blocking Sharon’s urinary tract, were discovered Sunday, Feb. 8, after Sharon complained of not feeling well.

Conservative rabbis protest at Wall

jerusalem (jta) | Conservative religious leaders, here this week for a rabbinical conference, protested segregation at the Western Wall.

Conservative Rabbi Baruch Zeilicovich from Fort Worth, Texas, was arrested and briefly detained by Israeli police Tuesday, Feb. 10, after trying, along with 200 fellow rabbis, to unfurl a banner near the Western Wall reading “The wall belongs to us all.”

The rabbis are opposed to ongoing construction that will nearly double the gender-segregated prayer area adjacent to Judaism’s holiest site, the Kotel. They claims it’s part of an attempt to monopolize Jewish life in Israel by the Orthodox, who mandate gender separation during prayer.

Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, the rabbi in charge of the Kotel and the administrator of Jewish holy sites, defended his decision to extend the gender-segregated area, saying it was done to accommodate an increase in worshippers.

Arafat aids terror with grants — probe

jerusalem (jta) | Yasser Arafat channeled aid money from the European Union to terrorist groups and for personal use by high-ranking Palestinian officials, according to a preliminary investigation.

The probe is being conducted by the EU’s anti-fraud team. The Berlin Morgenpost, which obtained documents from the anti-fraud team, said they show that the Palestinian Authority president fed EU funds to the al-Aksa Brigade, a terrorist group linked to Arafat’s Fatah movement. The Israeli government also provided documents.