U.S. officials reportedly asked Israel to stop combat aircraft overflights of Lebanon. (JTA)

Elliott Abrams, the White House’s deputy national security adviser, and David Welch, the State Department’s top Middle East envoy, met Thursday with Ehud Olmert ahead of the Israeli prime minister’s Nov. 6-7 visit to Washington.

According to Ha’aretz, Abrams and Welch told Olmert that Israel’s overflights, an aftereffect of Israel’s war with Hezbollah this summer, are undermining Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora’s government.

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Kofi Annan proposed a registry of damages to Palestinians caused by Israel’s West Bank security barrier. (JTA)


The proposal by the outgoing U.N. secretary-general derives from a 2004 ruling against the barrier, which cuts through portions of West Bank land, by the U.N.’s international court. The registry would entail setting up a new office, Annan says, but would not be a “compensation commission or a claims-resolution facility, nor would it be a judicial or quasi-judicial body.”

The International Court of Justice ruling was not binding, raising questions about enforcement.

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Doctors moved Ariel Sharon to intensive care after his condition deteriorated. (JTA)

The former Israeli prime minister contracted a new infection affecting his heart, doctors said Friday at Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv. His condition was described as stable. Sharon has been comatose since January, when he suffered a massive stroke.

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Israel’s Sephardi chief rabbi seemed set to cancel a conference on agunot, or women who can not obtain Jewish divorce papers from their husbands. (JTA)

Less than a week before the conference of renowned rabbis and heads of Jewish courts from across the world was set to convene in Jerusalem, a fax was sent to the 27 rabbis who had agreed to attend, notifying them that it would be canceled.

The Hebrew note obtained by JTA, signed by Rabbi Eliyahu Ben Dahan, head of Israel’s rabbinical court system, said that Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar had canceled the Nov. 7-8 meeting “due to petitions that came to him both from Israel and outside of Israel.”

However, Amar’s office later hinted that the decision might not be final and that an official announcement would come only next week.

“It is clear that the ultra-Orthodox leaders in Israel have been pressuring him and it was too much to bear,” Sharon Shenhav of the International Council of Jewish Women, who worked closely with Amar over the past two years to plan the conference, told JTA.

“Shamefully at the last minute he has canceled.”

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