Israel's top judges took the International Court of Justice to task for its ruling against the West Bank security fence. (JTA) The High Court of Justice in Jerusalem, addressing a Palestinian petition, said Thursday that the fence is legal where it is proven to be a stop-gap measure against terrorists. The nine-justice panel said an ICJ decision in 2004 that the fence was illegal had been reached without due consideration of all the facts. "The ICJ's interpretation of international law should be given its full appropriate weight," the High Court said, but added: "The ICJ based its opinion on a factual basis regarding impingement of Palestinian residents' rights, without the factual basis regarding the security-military justification for this impingement." Israel had boycotted the hearings at The Hague, accusing the ICJ of bias. More from Ha'aretz here. AP story here.

Dozens of Israeli right-wingers infiltrated into an evacuated West Bank settlement. (JTA) Police arrested at least 45 squatters Thursday in Sanur, one of four West Bank settlements emptied of Israeli residents along with the Gaza Strip last month. According to authorities, the infiltrators slipped past army roadblocks and holed up briefly in an Ottoman-era compound in Sanur before being ejected by police.

President Bush condemned the destruction of synagogues in the Gaza Strip. (JTA) "We condemn the desecration of synagogues in Gaza that followed Israel's withdrawal," Bush said to loud applause Wednesday at a massive dinner hosted in Washington by the American Jewish Historical Society to commemorate 350 years of Jewish settlement in America. The Palestinian Authority wanted Israel to dismantle the synagogues as it had done other buildings, but the Israeli Cabinet – at the urging of rabbis – refrained from doing so before leaving Gaza this week. Palestinian looters subsequently tore apart the synagogues. Before addressing the dinner, Bush paid his first visit to a U.S. synagogue as president, touring the historic Sixth and I synagogue in downtown Washington and examining a Torah scroll that survived the Holocaust.

A U.S. judge ruled that reciting the pledge of allegiance in public schools is unconstitutional. (JTA) In his ruling Wednesday, Lawrence Karlton backed two families who said the pledge's reference to "one nation under G-d" constitutes religious coercion. The judge ruled that he was bound by a 2002 precedent. The Supreme Court later dismissed the case, ruling that the father of the children who sued then, Michael Newdow, could not do so because he did not have custody of his daughter at the time. Newdow filed the more recent case on behalf of two other families. The decision is expected to be appealed.

A Jewish group is launching a television ad demanding equitable treatment for Israel at the United Nations. (JTA) The American Jewish Committee ad is to begin airing on CNN on Thursday, during the World Summit of international leaders at the United Nations headquarters in New York. "What happens when one member state is not treated equally?" the ad's narrator asks. "This diminishes the stature of the U.N. itself." With the U.N.'s New York headquarters as background, three small text boxes emerge successively, reading, respectively: "End the anti-Israel bureaucracy at the U.N."; "Stop the onslaught of anti-Israel resolutions"; and "Make Israel a full U.N. regional group member." Israel is singled out for disproportionate opprobrium at the U.N., with several committees devoted solely to Palestinian concerns. Israel also is excluded from full membership in regional groupings that determine seats on crucial U.N. bodies.

The Baltimore Sun reports that the Commodore Uriah P. Levy Center and Jewish Chapel will be formally dedicated Sunday at the U.S. Naval Academy. This will be the first U.S. military building with a Magen David on its exterior.

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