(JTA) Ehud Olmert said Israel would have to unilaterally withdraw from much of the West Bank. In the clearest indication of his plans since taking over as Israeli prime minister after Ariel Sharon went into a coma last month, Olmert told Israel's Channel 2 on Tuesday that Israel should hold onto three major settlement blocs - Ariel, Gush Etzion and Ma'aleh Adumim - and the Jordan Valley. About 185,000 of Israel's 244,000 settlers live in those blocs, the Jerusalem Post reported, citing Peace Now. Olmert also denied that Israel's disengagement from the Gaza Strip had boosted Hamas, saying that the Palestinian terrorist group was strong before Israel carried out the disengagement plan last summer. Olmert is the head of the Sharon-founded Kadima Party, which is favored to win Israel's March 28 elections.

(JTA) The Anglican Church decided to divest from companies whose products Israel uses in the West Bank. The vote this week by the General Synod of Britain's top spiritual body came in response to an initiative by the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and was backed by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. The resolution echoes those recently adopted by several Protestant churches in the United States, and could affect international companies such as Caterpillar, which sells bulldozers to the Israeli military. Williams' predecessor, George Carey, deplored the boycott, telling The Jerusalem Post that it "ignores the trauma of ordinary Jewish people" targeted by Palestinian terrorism.

Reuters reports that Ishai Schlussel, who stabbed and wounded three marchers last summer in a Jerusalem gay pride parade was sentenced to twelve years in prison by the Jerusalem District Court.

(JTA) The president of Northwestern University blasted one of his professors for denying the Holocaust. The president, Henry Bienen, said Monday that Arthur Butz's comments are a "contemptible insult to all decent and feeling people." Butz, an engineering professor, e-mailed comments denying the Holocaust to an Iranian news agency, backing remarks by Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, that denied the Holocaust. In comments that were also posted on his Web site, Butz called the Holocaust a "deliberately contrived falsehood" and congratulated Ahmadinejad. The Hillel at Northwestern, which has a substantial Jewish population, published an advertisement protesting Butz's comments in the school's newspaper and called for a community meeting Tuesday night to address the Holocaust.

(JTA) A synagogue in Phoenix was burglarized and the Torah stolen. The burglary occurred this week at Shirat-David Synagogue. The Torah was later recovered in a nearby parking lot.

The Jerusalem Post reports that 150 olim from Ethiopia arrived in Israel today.

(JTA) Johnson & Johnson is helping fund a scientific research initiative at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The Johnson & Johnson Corporate Office of Science and Technology and Yissum, the technology transfer company of the Hebrew University, have joined forces to encourage innovative research ideas by students at the institution, it was announced Tuesday. The focus will be on ideas that have the greatest potential for becoming major scientific breakthroughs, or to be of great commercial possibility. The research projects will be decided upon jointly by a board chosen by the sponsoring parties.

Reuters reports that a Jewish Dutch art collector's paintings that were looted by the Nazis will be returned to his heirs. The works are worth in the tens of millions of dollars.

Kelly Clarkson makes two concert dates in Israel where her latest cd has been the top-selling album the last two months, according to the Jerusalem Post.


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