Israel released 26 Palestinian prisoners on Tuesday—the third group set free since peace negotiations with the Palestinians started last July—while at the same time unveiling a plan for the construction of new settlements in the West Bank. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faced harsh criticism for the move, even from members of his own coalition. “He is wrong because he tries to please all sides; the result is nobody is happy with his steps,” Israeli commentator Eitan Haber told The New York Times. In addition, Palestinian leaders threatened to seek membership with the International Criminal Court and to sue Israel if the settlement plans progress—a step they had promised not to take when the peace talks commenced.
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s condition has been downgraded to critical and his life is “definitely in danger,” according to Tel Aviv’s Chaim Sheba Medical Center. Sharon, 85, has been in a coma since suffering a stroke in January 2006. Israeli media is reporting Sharon is suffering from kidney failure.
New York Times columnist Richard Cohen makes a New Year’s prediction: “That, for all John Kerry’s efforts, this will be another year in which peace is not reached in the Middle East.”
Haaretz columnist Peter Beinart, meanwhile, makes another forecast: “2014 will be the year that America’s Israel debate begins to pass the organized American Jewish community by.”
As part of Israel’s new set of state-subsidized health services, women between the ages of 20 and 33 are now eligible for free abortions in 2014. Contraception, however, will not be covered.
NPR takes a look at how Jewish immigrants in Latin America influenced local cuisine.
One-quarter of Israelis and one-third of Israeli children are living in poverty, according to a December report by the National Insurance Institute and the Central Bureau of Statistics. The report also found that Israel’s income gap is one of the highest in the world.
San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker apologized Monday after he and teammate Boris Diaw became the center of a controversy surrounding an old photograph of the French basketball players making the “quenelle,” a type of Nazi salute popularized by the controversial French comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala.
A Pittsburgh rabbi is being sued after severing a baby’s penis during a botched circumcision.
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