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News at a Glance

January 6, 2006

Ariel Sharon is expected to remain in an induced coma for at least 24 hours to relieve pressure on his brain. Dr. Shlomo Mor-Yosef, director of Hadassah's Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem, said Thursday that the Israeli prime minister is in critical condition after suffering a serious stroke Wednesday night and undergoing more than eight hours of emergency brain surgery.

Jewish groups were split on the Florida Supreme Court's decision to strike down a school voucher program. The court ruled Thursday that the program, which affects some 700 children and has been under way since September, violates constitutional separation of church and state.

The Rev. Pat Robertson said Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was punished by God for dividing the Land of Israel. Speaking on the "700 Club" on Thursday, Robertson suggested that Sharon, who is currently in an induced coma following a massive stroke and cerebral hemorrhage, and former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, assassinated by an Israeli extremist in 1995, were being treated harshly by God for dividing Israel.

Ariel Sharon's interim replacement spoke with the Palestinian Authority president. Mahmoud Abbas called Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Thursday to express his concern for the well-being of Sharon, who is in an induced coma after undergoing surgery for a brain hemorrhage.

Two top U.S. Middle East envoys postponed a visit to the region in the wake of Ariel Sharon's stroke. Elliott Abrams, the deputy national security adviser, and David Welch, the top State Department envoy to the region, had planned to leave Wednesday night.

Shimon Peres would lead the Kadima Party to more Knesset seats than any other leadership candidate, according to polls. Under Peres, Kadima would win 42 seats in the 120-seat Knesset in the March 28 election, according to the survey by Ha'aretz and Channel 10.

West Bank settlers wounded two Palestinians in a drive-by shooting. The army said it had mounted a manhunt Thursday for an Israeli-owned car from which settlers opened fire on Palestinians waiting at a checkpoint outside Nablus.

Norway's finance minister backed a boycott of Israel. Kristin Halvorsen, a leader of the Socialist Left Party, caused outrage after telling a Norwegian newspaper that she backed the boycott and had stopped buying Israeli products herself.

Fifty Israelis and 197 Palestinians were killed in political violence in 2005, B'Tselem reported. Of the 50 Israelis killed, 41 were civilians; of the 197 Palestinians, 124 were civilians, the human rights group reported. But the Israel Defense Forces took issues with the numbers, saying that more Israelis had been killed and that more of the Palestinians were involved in acts of terrorism.

Ukrainian officials will allow an ultranationalist political party to run in parliamentary elections, despite protests from Jewish and human rights leaders. Only four out of 14 members of Ukraine's Central Election Committee voted Dec. 31 against the registration of the Conservative Party of Ukraine in elections set for March.

David and Rachel Goodman will celebrate their Bar and Bat Mitzvahs this Saturday at Warsaw's liberal Jewish community. The children celebrating at Beit Warszawa are the son and daughter of an American father and a Polish mother.

Work began this week to turn the house where Sigmund Freud was born into a museum. A Freud Museum is slated to open in the Czech city of Pribor in May, 150 years after Freud's birth. Freud spent three years in Pribor before his family relocated to Vienna.

Israel's prime minister during the 1967 Six-Day War proposed moving Palestinians to Iraq en masse, declassified documents showed. According to minutes of a Cabinet session in 1967 published by Ha'aretz this week, Levi Eshkol made the proposals as ministers debated what to do with the sizable Palestinian population that came under Israel's control in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

A historic Jewish deli in New York City shut down over a lease dispute. The owner of the Second Avenue Deli said he closed the restaurant after his rent was raised, adding that he would not reopen unless he received a new lease at a price he could afford.

Irving Layton, once described as "the Picasso and Mae West of poetry," died Wednesday in Montreal at 93. He was suffering from Alzheimer's Disease. Born Israel Pincu Lazarovitch in Tirgu Neamt, Romania, in 1912, his family immigrated to Canada in 1913.

© JTA (Reproduction or redistribution of these stories without permission is prohibited.)

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