Shorts: Mideast

Rice criticizes Israeli construction

Israel’s construction in eastern Jerusalem could imperil peace efforts with the Palestinians, Condoleezza Rice said June 15.

The U.S. secretary of state, who was making her sixth visit to Israel this year, signaled that the Bush administration is monitoring Israeli housing projects on land where Pale- stinians want to build a state.

“I am very concerned that at a time when we need to build confidence between the parties, the continued building and the settlement activity has the potential to harm the negotiations going forward,” Rice said. — jta

Will Hezbollah release reservists?

Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, the two Israeli army reservists who were abducted in a July 12, 2006 border raid by Hezbollah, will be repatriated soon, according to a June 16 report by al Akhbar, a Beirut daily affiliated with the Iranian-backed Shiite militia.

Israel said it’s willing to free Samir Kantar, a jailed Lebanese terrorist, as well as four Hezbollah guerrillas captured during the 2006 Second Lebanon War, in exchange for its troops.

Al Akhbar gave no indication of whether Goldwasser and Regev are alive. — jta

Report: Israel aims to move refugees

The Israel government wants to offer financial compensation to African states that agree to absorb Sudanese refugees currently living in Israel, according to Army Radio.

More than 10,000 Sudanese reside illegally in Israel today.

The finer points of the plan, such as the exact sums Israel would be willing to pay, have yet to be settled. —

Pride parade set for next week

Organizers of Jerusalem’s annual gay pride march said they hope for less friction with the city’s ultra-Orthodox residents this year.

Jerusalem Open House, a homosexual rights center, recently announced that this year’s Pride and Tolerance March in the Israeli capital will take place Thursday, June 26.

“We have met with many public leaders of the haredi and Orthodox communities to promote understanding and especially to prevent unnecessary violence in the city,” said Yonatan Gher, the executive director of Jerusalem Open House. — jta