Shorts: Mideast

Iranian politician: ‘friendly’ with Israel

One of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s deputies made a rare claim that his country feels friendship toward Israel.

“Today Iran is friendly with the peoples of America and Israel,” Esfandiyar Rahim Masha’i, Iran’s vice president in charge of tourism and cultural affairs, said July 20 at a tourism fair in Tehran.

“No people in the world is our enemy, and this is a source of pride,” he said.

The comments clashed with the long-standing policy of Ahmadinejad and the rest of Iran’s Islamist leadership of refusing to coexist with Israel.

By refering to the “people” of Israel, Masha’i may have been saying that Iran has no problem with Jews — only the Jewish state. — jta

Israel names first female U.N. envoy

Israel appointed its first female ambassador to the United Nations.

Gabriela Shalev — the rector of the Ono Academic College in Kiryat Ono, Israel — was approved July 20 by the Israeli Cabinet. She is succeeding Dan Gillerman, who has served in the post since 2003.

“It was important to me to appoint a woman to represent Israel in such an important place,” said Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.

Shalev has served as chairman of the Israel Broadcasting Authority and as a member of the Jewish Agency’s Board of Trustees. — jta

Arab employment under scrutiny after bulldozer attack

Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski hinted that the bulldozer terror attack July 21 in central Jerusalem, reportedly perpetrated by an Arab resident of East Jerusalem, threatens the employment of many east Jerusalem Arabs.

“We should reconsider the employment of these people,” he told Channel 10.

“We see how, after the Shin Bet and Mossad do wonderful work and throw terror out the door, it comes back through the window. [In the hands of terrorists] tools of construction become opportunities for attacks,” he added.

Public Security Minister Avi Dichter said the attacks “do not represent the residents of east Jerusalem”

“The overwhelming majority are regular people who work in various places in the city,” he added. —

Drug maker spends billions on U.S. firm

Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries, the world’s largest generic drug manufacturer, last week completed the acquisition of Barr Pharmaceuticals, a maker of contraceptive pills and generic drugs, for an estimated $7.46 billion.

The purchase is one of the largest ever in Israel, following Teva’s purchase of Ivax for $7.8 billion.

The deal is expected to close at the end of this year. —

Web memorial created for soldiers

The Jewish Agency for Israel and the World Zionist Organization have set up a Web site in memory of slain Israeli soldiers, Ehud Gold-wasser and Eldad Regev, whose bodies Hezbollah returned to Israel in a prisoner swap last week.

The site contains a history of the two soldiers’ capture in 2006 on the border with Lebanon, their biographies, commentary from Israeli dignitaries, prayers to say for them and information about the exchange process.

The Web site is at — jta

Tourism Ministry launches helpline

Tourists in Israel can now turn to a free emergency telephone helpline.

The Tourism Ministry last week launched Tourphone, a hotline operating 24 hours a day and seven days a week, and reachable by dialing “*3888” from any phone in Israel.

Through the new service, tourists can receive answers to questions regarding entry and exit regulations at border crossings, assistance in emergencies and visa information. English and French speakers are available. — jta