Shorts: Mideast

Israeli currency to be revamped

The Bank of Israel has decided to change the images printed on its bills and add a new 500-shekel bill to the series by 2010.

The bank has charged a special advisory committee with the task of deciding which Israeli figures will be immortalized on currency.

Among the images considered are those of Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon, songwriter and composer Naomi Shemer and former Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek.

The decision to replace the notes’ series stemmed from three needs evident over the past few years: the need to refresh the currency after several decades in use; the need to fight forgeries — the new notes will be embedded with more sophisticated measures to fight counterfeiting; and the need to move to plastic, wear-proof notes planned by world markets.

The Bank of Israel’s advisory committee will issue a bid for the design of the new notes, which will be printed overseas. Israel’s last series was printed in Holland. —

Kuwaiti paper criticizes attack

A Kuwaiti newspaper this week published unprecedented harsh criticism of the terror attack that killed eight students at the Mercaz Harav yeshiva.

“The attack at the yeshiva was a barbaric murder of eight children who were engaged in religious study,” read an op-ed in the daily al Watan. “This odious and inhuman terror attack exemplifies the extremist and inhuman path of the terror organizations Hamas and Hizbullah.”

The writer goes on to assert that “the terror attack must prompt the free world to comprehend the magnitude of terrorism and its threats and to realize that a clear and unequivocal stance must be assumed against it.” —

Bounty placed on Barak’s head

A radical Iranian student group put a $400,000 bounty on Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

The Islamic Student Justice Seekers made the announcement March 9, according to the Iranian News agency IRNA.

It also placed $300,000 bounties each for the killing of two other senior members of the Israeli security establishment, Mossad chief Meir Dagan and Amos Yadlin, the head of military intelligence.

The action was taken as revenge for last month’s assassination of Hezbollah mastermind Imad Mughniyeh, which the student organization blames on Israel. — jta

Poll: Israelis support Clinton

Most Israelis believe Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton would be the best U.S. president for Israel, a Channel 10 survey showed last week.

More than 60 percent said they would prefer Clinton over Barack Obama for the Democratic candidacy, while only 16 percent said they wanted Obama to emerge victorious.

If Republican candidate John McCain ended up facing off with Obama for the U.S. presidency, more than 30 percent said they would prefer Obama, while more than 42 percent said they wanted McCain to win.

If Clinton ran against McCain, 58 percent of those surveyed said they would want Clinton to win while 21 percent preferred the Republican candidate.

McCain plans to visit Israel sometime this month. —

Lobby founded for Western olim

A new lobby in the Knesset will seek to improve the absorption of olim, or immigrants, from the West.

“There are special issues that olim from the West need to deal with, and we want to make sure that the state of Israel is prepared to help them,” said Knesset member Yoel Hasson.

About 45 percent of the world’s Jews resides in the United States and together with France and Britain constitutes about 90 percent of the diaspora. This demographic reality has led the government to seek new ways with which to encourage aliyah-by-choice. —