Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Religion and State in Israel - April 27, 2009 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

April 27, 2009 (Section 1) (continues in Section 2)

Click here to read ONLINE

Editor – Joel Katz

Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.

'Israel must call new disease Mexico Flu, as swine unkosher'

AP www.haaretz.com April 27, 2009

“Don’t say Swine flu” “Say Mexico flu”

Haaretz Cartoon by Amos Biderman April 30, 2009

Ultra-Orthodox Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman on Monday declared that Israel would call the new potentially deadly disease that has already struck two continents 'Mexico Flu,' rather than 'Swine Flu, as pigs are not kosher.

"We will call it Mexico flu. We won't call it swine flu," Litzman told a news conference on Monday, assuring the Israeli public that authorities were prepared to handle any cases.

Under Jewish dietary laws, pigs are considered unclean and pork is forbidden food, although the non-kosher meat is available in some stores in Israel. 

Making swine flu kosher: A symptom of the disease of Israeli politics

By Benjamin L. Hartman www.haaretz.com Opinion April 27, 2009

Haaretz Cartoon by Amos Biderman April 28, 2009
Defense Ministry to handle pandemic
"I got it Yaakov"

...This attempted rebranding of swine flu raises another issue about the dangers of Israel's lack of separation of synagogue and state, albeit one less important or divisive than the monopoly held by the religious over marriage, death, circumcision, public transport, and dietary laws.

This danger is the constant ability of the religious, when put in charge of government ministries, to make a mockery of a modern, would-be sophisticated western country that sees itself as a beacon of pluralism and modernity in a region darkened by religious fundamentalism and political extremism. 

Why Haredim don't honor Memorial Day

By Eliezer Hayon www.ynetnews.com Opinion April 27, 2009

...So, dear ‘seculars’, get off our backs on Memorial and Independence Day. We truly have nothing against them. 

We have no reaction to your grief, and we do not despise your joy, but however – they mean nothing to us.

Standing in silence during the siren for fallen soldiers of Tzahal

By Rabbi Shlomo Aviner www.ravaviner.com April 27, 2009

Q: Is it permissible to stand in silence during the siren on Remembrance Day for fallen soldiers of Tzahal?

A: Some say that it is forbidden on account of "Chukot Ha-Goyim" (following the practices of the non-Jews). This is not "Chukot Ha-Goyim." 

Others claim that this act is "Bitul Torah" (taking time away from learning Torah). But there is no problem to think about Torah or learn Torah by heart related to the self-sacrifice during that time.

…Regardless, the entire community stands in silence for the fallen soldiers and one should not separate himself from the community.

Ultra-Orthodox rally in favor of segregated buses

By Kobi Nahshoni www.ynetnews.com April 23, 2009

More than 2,000 ultra-Orthodox protestors demonstrated Thursday in Jerusalem, demanding that the Egged bus company introduce more segregated buses in the capital.

Organizers distributed leaflets addressing the importance of the struggle for segregation aboard buses in more neighborhoods in the capital, while rabbis and Orthodox public officials delivered speeches.

Municipal official Rachel Azaria, who protested against the segregated bus lines, told Ynet: As a religious woman, I came to make sure that the public space remains pleasant for everyone. 

As one who grew up in Jerusalem and has no intention of leaving it, I care about what this city is like."

"The [ultra-]Orthodox are very good at pressing Egged and when it introduces new segregated lines, the service in the regular lines is undermined," she said. 
"I don't force anyone to sit next to me on the bus, and everyone can decide on their own segregation and who they wish to sit next to. Yet nobody should decide for us how to travel on buses."

Mehadrin Bus Rally in Yerushalayim

By Yechiel Spira www.theyeshivaworld.com April 23, 2009

Event organizer Rabbi Chaim Mordechai Viener explained the Vaad Rabbonim for Transportation is seeking mehadrin service in all areas with 90-95% or higher chareidi ridership on buses, permitting men and women to use separate doors and to accommodate the religious lifestyle of the chareidi community.

The rav stated “they simply won’t budge” regarding Egged and others as talks to date have failed to bring about new mehadrin lines, particularly buses servicing the Kosel.

Ometz Organization Files Complaints against Dayanim

By Yechiel Spira www.theyeshivaworld.com April 26, 2009

The Ometz organization turned to Justice Minister Prof. Yaakov Ne’eman with a complaint against four Tel Aviv Rabbinate dayanim, which the organization accuses of arranging a get (bill of divorce) for the husband of a mentally challenged woman without her knowledge.

The state’s ombudsmen for judges and dayanim dealt with the matter in the past, recommending disciplinary actions against the Av beis din as well as a formal censure in the files of the other dayanim who dealt with the case. Former Justice Minister Daniel Friedman did not address the ombudsmen’s recommendation.

Ometz is now calling on Ne’eman, in his capacity as the authority permitted to convene the appointment committee, to suspend the Av beis din as well as demanding criminal charges against him.

Ometz expresses surprise and disappointment that to date nothing has been done in the matter, adding if the current administration opts to refrain from taking action against the dayan, the matter will be brought before the High Court of Justice.

Ministerial Approval for Chief Rabbis’ Travels

By Yechiel Spira www.theyeshivaworld.com April 23, 2009

Following a recent complaint filed by the Ometz Organization pertaining to travel abroad of Israel’s chief rabbis, a system is being established by which privately funded trips abroad will have to receive prior approval from a ministerial body.

In a letter sent to Interior Minister Eli Yishai, who is handling the matter, Israel Chief Rabbinate official Oded Viener requests that the committee be made up of ministers, not clerks, a move that will better preserve the dignity of the position of the nation’s chief rabbis.

The entire matter surrounds a private trip made abroad by Rabbi Yona Metzger Shlita. According to Israel Channel 10, the chief rabbi traveled privately, funded by people abroad, assisting them in fundraising for their organization, a move that is not permitted for the senior civil servant.

Ometz Organization Challenges Chief Rabbi’s Travel Abroad

By Yechiel Spira www.theyeshivaworld.com April 22, 2009

The Ometz Organization has turned to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in his capacity as the overseer of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel regarding recent travels abroad by Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger Shlita

The letter is based on an investigation, questioning if the rav traveled abroad using allotted vacation time or if he was paid ‘on the job’. The organization also wishes to know if there is any follow-up to the rav’s business trip and if there is any agency monitoring his accountability as a senior civil servant.

Ometz is calling for an accounting regarding salaries and expenses for personnel accompanying the rabbi abroad, wishing to learn if they were paid by taxpayers or private funders during a fundraising trip abroad.

Ometz requests formulating well-defined criteria to set guidelines for the chief rabbis pertaining to travel abroad, seeking to prevent using a government office for private benefit including fundraising missions.

Minister of religious affairs vexed by TA centennial book

By Roni Sofer www.ynetnews.com April 26, 2009

Marking Tel Aviv's centennial celebrations, Mayor Ron Huldai on Sunday presented cabinet ministers with a book commemorating the event.

The gesture, however, somewhat backfired, as Minister of Religious Affairs Yakov Margi furiously criticized its connect: 

"Is the filth parade really one of the city's greatest moments?" he said, referring to the annual gay pride parade featured in the book. "Why isn’t there any mention of Jewish events?"

Tel Aviv Municipality approves NIS 28.9m. for religious council budget

By Miriam Bulwar David-Hay www.jpost.com April 23, 2009

The Tel Aviv city council has approved a budget of NIS 28.9 million for the city's religious council this year, more than one-third of which will go toward funding the retirement of its employees, reports www.mynet.co.il .

Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau will receive a salary of NIS 564,000 per year, or NIS 47,000 per month.

The report said that out of the NIS 28.9 million budget for the religious council in 2009, 13.6 percent (NIS 3.9 million) would come from the city, while the remainder would come from the government and from income for services rendered, such as marriage fees (NIS 1.95 million), kashrut certificates (NIS 1.25 million), mikveh (ritual bath) fees (NIS 1.3 million) and others.

It said the religious council was responsible for managing and maintaining 21 ritual baths, spending NIS 6.2 million on them, of which two-thirds (NIS 4.1 million) was for salaries.

The budget also shows an increase in the salaries of some 15 neighborhood rabbis, who received a total of NIS 945,000 in 2008 and this year will receive a total of NIS 978,000.

Cosmetics Company to observe Shabbat

By Amit Schneider www.ynetnews.com April 27, 2009

Another major company going kosher: Cosmetics company Il-Makiage announced Sunday that it plans to begin observing the Shabbat as of this Friday – for the benefit of its store workers and customers from the religious and ultra-Orthodox sectors.

Il-Makiage owns a make-up college and 25 stores across Israel. Its branches all over the country will now be closed on Shabbat and on Jewish holidays, enabling the religious and haredi public to enjoy the brand's products without hurting their religious sensitivities.

Electric Company Rapidly Automating; Machmirim Will Be Able to Use Electricity within a Year

By Ezra Reichman, Mishpacha www.vosizneias.com April 24, 2009

After years of seeking a solution to the problem of electricity generated by Jewish work on Shabbos, a solution is on the horizon.

A rabbinical committee founded several months ago to seek a solution to the problem sent a delegation last Tuesday to visit the power station in Ashkelon to study the immense advances made towards full automation to produce electricity free of chilul Shabbos.

"The technological systems in the power stations were not built according to halachic criteria, so we had to invest considerable financial and technological resources to find solutions to the halachic problems on the way to full automatization. 

Non-essential administrative actions which didn't have to be performed on Shabbos were shifted to the weekdays despite possible risks. We did surveys and inspections to see what other changes could be made..."

Knesset Chairman Promises to Help Jerusalem Chabad House

Source: www.col.org.il http://shmais.com April 20, 2009

Knesset Chairman Reuven Rivlin visited the historic shul in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Nachlat Shiva this week.

…The visit concluded with a farbrengen at the Chabad House at which Mr. Rivlin promised the local Chabad House director Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Slonim that he would help with the various activities run by the Chabad House and the shul for tourists and youth. 

In their head

By David Sperber www.ynetnews.com April 23, 2009

So, what does a women's head covering look like? The immediate answer would be a hat or a scarf, but the eight artists participating in the "Glu-ya" exhibition, which opens at the Lifschitz Teachers' College in Jerusalem on Thursday, have a rather different perception of the issue.

Head covering for women is a significant topic in the modern ultra-orthodox discourse. 

Religious City among Tops in Apartment Sales

www.israelnationalnews.com April 23, 2009

Modi'in Illit is the second leading city, after Jerusalem, in the number of apartments sold by private entrepreneurs in recent years, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics. 

“It’s not a surprise considering the strong desire among young couples and large families to live here,” said Modi'in Illit Mayor Rabbi Yaakov Guterman. But it is the first time the city has reached the number two position.

The ratings, published this week by the Globes business news service, show 293 Modi'in Illit housing units were sold in 2007, and 556 in 2008, as compared to 564 apartments sold in Jerusalem during 2008.

Dispute over Haifa’s Great Shul Turning Chareidi

By Yechiel Spira www.theyeshivaworld.com April 26, 2009

There appears to be a power struggle surrounding control of Haifa’s main shul, a shul that is no longer a center for mispalalim, but serving a small number of people on Shabbos, who generally daven in a downstairs small chapel.

Belzer Chassidim of Haifa are working to utilize the main shul, which sits vacant, but it appears their plans are not supported by all.

At one point a number of years ago, the city’s chief rabbi, Rav Shar Yashuv Cohen Shlita turned to the local Chabad community to daven in the upper sanctuary, but it appears the invitation was short-lived, expiring after the yomim tovim.

Egged: Advanced Registration Required for Travel to Kever Rashbi

By Yechiel Spira www.theyeshivaworld.com April 27, 2009

Seeking to learn from last year’s Lag B’Omer fiasco, Egged bus officials this year are demanding advanced registration for travelers from Yerushalayim to Kever Rashbi on Lag B’Omer.

Buses will leave all neighborhoods, Egged officials explain, seeking to avoid the congestion seen in past years at central pick up locations.

Officials add that with advanced seating, maintaining separate seating for men and women will be achieved with less stress than in the past.

Ben Gurion Airport to open glatt kosher restaurant

By Arie Egozi www.ynetnews.com April 26, 2009

Passengers belonging to the ultra-Orthodox community will soon also be able to enjoy a glatt kosher meal at Ben-Gurion Airport's departure terminal while waiting for their flight.

The Israel Airports Authority plans to issue a tender for the operation of a first-of-its-kind glatt kosher meat restaurant at the terminal's duty free area, following the growing demand for such a service on the part of haredi passengers.

Attorney Challenges Rabbinate Hechsher to Coke Zero in Israel

By Yechiel Spira www.theyeshivaworld.com April 21, 2009

According to attorney Chaim Stinger, Coca Cola, the Chief Rabbinate and Tel Aviv Rabbinate are deceiving the public regarding the hechsher granted to Coke Zero.

The letter sent on behalf of Shmuel Jubani states Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger Shlita and Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau Shlita would like the public to believe all Coke products are kosher.

Report: IDF Educational Weekend in Hotel Lacking Proper Kashrus

By Yechiel Spira www.theyeshivaworld.com April 26, 2009

According to complaints filed by soldiers, the IDF holds educational weekends for soldiers, held in a Jerusalem hotel lacking Jerusalem Religious Council kashrus certification.

According to Jerusalem Religious Council officials, they warned military officials involved in arranging the weekends that bringing in kosher food does not make a hotel kosher. 

The IDF Spokesman is quick to respond, stating the food given to the soldiers was brought from a kosher caterer, rejecting allegations of any foul-ups regarding kashrus.

Officials report the 7-Arches Hotel on Har HaZeisim is used by the army due to its proximity to areas of interest, related to the educational weekends.

It appears efforts are underway to arrange for the hotel to receive Jerusalem Rabbinate supervision.  The IDF Rabbinate is involved in making appropriate arrangements.

Rabbi Ovadia: Smoking students should be slapped

By Kobi Nahshoni www.ynetnews.com April 27, 2009

Shas' spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, called on parents and teachers to act to prevent smoking among youth, a phenomenon which he referred to as "a breach which must be thwarted."

Speaking during his weekly sermon Saturday evening, the rabbi said that "if a person sees his son smoking a cigarette, he should shout at him and defend him and stop him from doing it… A yeshiva head who has a meeting and sees his student smoking, should slap him in the face. What are you smoking for?"

Religion and State in Israel

April 27, 2009 (Section 1) (continues in Section 2)

Click here to read ONLINE

Editor – Joel Katz

Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.

Religion and State in Israel - April 27, 2009 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

April 27, 2009 (Section 2) (continued from Section 1)

Click here to read ONLINE

Editor – Joel Katz

Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.

Sharansky, the Jewish Agency's worst nightmare and best hope

By Anshel Pfeffer www.haaretz.com April 26, 2009

This could be the big opportunity for Sharansky, and the Agency. Get out of the immigration business; leave it to the government and the private organizations. 

Transform into the biggest foundation in the Jewish world, working with grassroots movements on educational programs. 

Jettison the hierarchy, close down departments, buy out the pen pushers and bean counters. 

All of a sudden, you will have a budget of hundreds of millions, with which to enable local networks and initiatives. 

Sharansky's Agency could be a lean outfit, offering guidance, coordination, money and an overall strategy. 

Sharansky nomination shines light on debate over reforms at Jewish Agency

By Jacob Berkman www.jta.org April 21, 2009

But some of the Jewish Agency’s leaders in North America are quietly voicing concerns that Netanyahu’s announcement could undercut their plan to de-politicize the chairman position and keep this key decision in the hands of the organization.

Sharansky’s backers see him as a potential rainmaker who could attract new sources of financial support to make up for the cuts from increasingly cash-strapped federations. 

But several of the key proponents of reform at the Jewish Agency fear that the perception of an overly political selection process will hurt efforts to boost support from federations and raise funds from other Diaspora sources.

Several North American philanthropists -- notably Charles Bronfman and Bobby Goldberg -- have long complained that in past decades the Israeli prime minister seemed free to reserve the chairmanship for political allies. 

Jewish Agency officials have acknowledged that the perception has been a stumbling block in terms of attracting new donors and, as a result, are in the end stages of a five-year process of revamping the agency's governance structure.

New absorption minister proposes breaks to firms hiring immigrants

By Raphael Ahren www.haaretz.com April 24,2009

Instead of spending money on unemployment benefits, the state should subsidize companies hiring immigrants, incoming Immigration and Absorption Minister Sofa Landver told Anglo File this week. 

…Besides employment, Landver says she wants to focus her work on housing and the integration of immigrant children.

Concretely, she says she intends to meet with university representatives to try to improve the current system of degree equivalencies, so that immigrant academics and physicians might face less red tape before being able to start working.

Lastly, the 59-year-old plans to strengthen her ministry's cooperation with immigrant assistance groups such as Nefesh B'Nefesh and others.

Lieberman to Take Charge of Russian-Jewish Immigration

By Yehudah Lev Kay www.israelnationalnews.com April 26,2009

On Sunday, the government is expected to transfer some of the responsibility for the "Nativ" Russian-Jewish immigration agency to Avigdor Lieberman’s Foreign Ministry. Until now, Nativ fell under the responsibility of the Prime Minister’s office.

As part of the current Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu coalition agreement, Lieberman will head an immigration committee which will incorporate Nativ. 

The cabinet budgeted a NIS 82 million discretionary fund to be used towards immigration. In addition, the government committed itself to spending an additional NIS 3 million on immigrant rent assistance.

Nativ officials testified at a Knesset committee in 2008 that there remain 880,000 people in Russia and the Ukraine who are eligible to make Aliyah [immigration to Israel].

Southern Africa immigrants welcomed at Western Wall

By Raphael Ahren www.haaretz.com April 24, 2009

Eighty new immigrants from southern Africa received their Israeli identity cards at a welcoming ceremony at the Western Wall. They were the first immigrants to do so, in a special gesture by the Interior Ministry. 

'We're all Jewish - it's where we're supposed to be'

By Sam Greenberg www.jpost.com April 24, 2009

The Jewish Agency has made increasing South African aliya one of its big projects over the past two years. This has led to a large percentage of those leaving South Africa to choose Israel over the English-speaking countries where many used to go.

The immigrants spoke highly about their reception in Israel, a process the officials have dubbed aliya "on a red carpet." 

The aliya approval process is handled back in South Africa, and the immigrants have much less to take care of upon arriving.

Ritual Baths: Single women and converts stay away

By Rabbi Andrew Sacks www.jpost.com Opinion April 21, 2009

The writer is Director of the Masorti [Conservative] Movement's Rabbinical Assembly in Israel.

Most Mikvehs in Israel are publicly funded. They are, in that sense, the equivalent of the public libraries. They ought, by law, be open to all. They are not the personal province of any one group. Yet that is what has become the reality in nearly all of Israel's Mikvehs.

When I lived in the US there were Mikvehs built by Orthodox shuls. In many cases those shuls barred Conservative and Reform converts from using the Mikveh. I never cared for this slap at Klal Yisrael but since the funding for the Mikveh was private, it was the right of the Mikveh owners to take a parochial approach.

In Israel it is the tax-payers who fund the Mikvehs. They do not belong to the Ultra-Orthodox, though the keys are most often in the hands of those on the payroll of the religious (read: Orthodox) councils.

More than words

By Ze'ev Segal www.haaretz.com Opinion April 27, 2009

…discrimination for reasons of religion - against the Reform movement, for instance - is part of the fabric of life in Israel.

The freedom of religion promised in the declaration is also supposed to be freedom from religion, but all the promises to pass a domestic partnership law, which would allow for an alternative to religiously sanctioned marriage, are still no more than words. 

Why the Orthodox make aliyah - the true story

[in response to:Israel Masorti Movement Executive Director's essay "Why do the Orthodox make aliya?"]

By Lahav Harkov www.jpost.com Opinion April 26, 2009

…Sure, being Orthodox is easier in Israel, because being Jewish in general is easier here, but Israel isn't a halachic state, and is far from being a religious paradise. Therefore, Hess's argument on this front is not really valid.

…Hess said that if the Conservative\Masorti movement's campaign to encourage aliyah fails, the lack of a "warm embrace" and "pluralistic" Judaism will be to blame. I say: Stop blaming "The Orthodox" for your movement's shortcomings. 

The campaign won't be effective, unless the movement rethinks its priorities. Start working from the foundations; teach your children to put Torah first, and then they will understand why they need to live in Israel. If Judaism isn't the top priority in their lives, what reason is there to make aliyah?

So Yizhar Hess, next time you want to encourage aliyah, don't accuse "The Orthodox" of making it difficult. These movements are causing their own problems. We didn't make aliyah because we have better institutions than Conservative and Reform Jews in Israel. 

To paraphrase my friend, anyone who made aliyah did it despite whatever problems he or she had with Israel, because at the end of the day, olim put Zionism and Judaism above all.

HUC may close two of its US campuses

By Eran Lubliner www.jpost.com April 22, 2009

No matter the outcome, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion President Ellenson made it clear that the Jerusalem campus would not be affected if any others were eliminated.

Rabbi Michael Marmur, dean of the Jerusalem branch, told the Post on Tuesday that "each campus is part of an integrated institution, and we are all being affected by the budget cuts in the short term. Rabbi Ellenson and I agree, though, that Jerusalem's campus is still very strong."

Ellenson made it clear that closing any of the campuses would be a terrible blow to the Reform movement.

"I wish with all my heart and soul that this were not so," he said. "Yet all the wishing in the world cannot alter the reality we face."

Criticizing Israel is hard work

By Rabbi Shaul Farber www.jpost.com Opinion April 27, 2009

I have recently come under serious criticism for my outspokenness against abuses in the Israeli rabbinate.

I have not hesitated to raise my voice against what I perceive to be the injustices being meted out to converts, or the fact that burial authorities capitalize on the vulnerability of mourners in their darkest hour to impose upon them either financial or religious burdens.

I am vocal about the way in which new immigrants (and those seeking to emigrate) are treated by the Ministry of Interior and I do not tolerate the inability of the Orthodox community to open its doors to the non-Orthodox.

I find it hard to be silent to the cry of the widow or the agunah or the plight of the convert. I have been told a number of times that in my outspokenness, I am undermining the image of Israel and discouraging Jews from around the world from believing in its future.

Fond farewells

By Efrat Nechushtai www.haaretz.com April 23, 2009

By law, every Israeli citizen is eligible for free burial near his or her place of residence, and the local hevra kadisha (burial society) provides a rabbi to conducts the funeral; its expenses are reimbursed by the National Insurance Institute. 

But like the event on the other side of the continuum - birth - and many other parts of our lives, death is no longer the exclusive domain of state services. 

…People who wish to secure a different kind of resting place for their loved ones have two alternatives to the municipal cemetery: private burial on kibbutzim and cremation. 

About 10 kibbutzim offer such services, which are not overseen by the burial society and are thus unrestricted by religious tradition.

Feiglin: If I were PM, I'd rebuild the Temple

By Matthew Wagner www.jpost.com April 20, 2009

Moshe Feiglin, head of Manhigut Yehudit (Jewish Leadership Movement) said last week that if he was elected prime minister, he would try to rebuild the destroyed Temple in Jerusalem.

"I don't know if I will have the merit of doing something that is the aspiration of every Jew," said Feiglin. 

"But if I become prime minister I will take away control over the Temple Mount from the Wakf [the Islamic trust] and reinstate Jewish sovereignty over the entire mount and, hopefully, rebuild the Temple."

Feiglin said that rebuilding the Temple and all that it symbolized was the essence of a Jewish state.

Hopes for the Pope

By Akiva Eldar www.haaretz.com April 27, 2009

Father David Neuhaus, one of 15 members of the planning committee appointed by the Catholic Church in the Holy Land, is trying to avoid political minefields. 

The Israeli liaison with the Vatican ahead of the Pope's visit is a 53-year-old Druze from Isfiya. Bahij Mansour exchanged a military career (deputy brigade commander with the rank of lieutenant colonel) for a diplomatic one (the first Druze ambassador to Angola).

As head of the Foreign Ministry's religious affairs section he spends a significant part of his time negotiating with Vatican representatives over the status of the Church's many assets in Israel. 

The negotiations began with the 2002 Arrangements Bill, supplementary to the state budget, which requires Church institutions to pay taxes. 

Tourism Minister: Israel unprepared for papal visit

By Roni Sofer www.ynetnews.com April 25, 2009

Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov plans to announce Sunday during the weekly government meeting that the NIS 43 million ($10.1 million) budget set aside for Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Israel has not yet been put to use, and that this could wreak havoc on the tour scheduled to take May 11.

The minister also warns that construction of infrastructure and renovations have not been completed on the holy sites the pope plans on visiting.

Israel-Vatican negotiations over Mt. Zion

By Hillel Fendel www.israelnationalnews.com April 26, 2009

Ten-year-long negotiations between Israel and the Vatican appear to be drawing to a close, with concerns rising that Israel will cede control of the building housing King David’s Tomb in Jerusalem.

The Bilateral Permanent Working Commission – a team of negotiators representing Israel and the Vatican – released an upbeat press release at the end of last week, speaking of "meaningful progress," "great cordiality," and a mutual commitment to reaching a final agreement "as soon as possible.”

Tellingly, a plenary meeting has been announced for this Thursday, April 30, at the Foreign Ministry. 

The meeting will be chaired by the two states’ deputy foreign ministers, Danny Ayalon and Monsignor Pietro Parolin. It is widely believed that the agreement will be signed then.

Religion and State in Israel

April 27, 2009 (Section 2) (continued from Section 1)

Click here to read ONLINE

Editor – Joel Katz

Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.