The Top 8 Headlines You Might Have Missed / Haaretz Newsline, July 31

From the ballooning expenses of the IDF, to a 'racist' remark by Israel's newly elected chief Ashkenazi rabbi, Haaretz brings you the top 8 headlines you might have missed.

The renewal of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks was primarily driven by everyone's desire to avert a "train wreck," a White House official said during a press briefing Wednesday. The Palestinians had been making clear that if they did not see progress on the peace front, they would seek elevation of their status via international organizations, including the UN, he said, and this could have "really interrupted the progress we (the United States) want to see in the region."

The number of career soldiers in the army has ballooned by 12 percent over the past six years, Haaretz has learned. The increase, a figure the Israel Defense Forces prefers not to emphasize during debates over the defense budget, also raised the IDF’s salary expenses in recent years. Various estimates say these costs have risen by half a billion to a billion shekels each year.

Cleanup and containment of contamination discovered three years ago at a major Israeli defense site in the Haifa Bay area may be hampered by funding difficulties. Upon first discovering the contamination, the Environmental Protection Ministry demanded Rafael Advanced Defense Systems facility stop channeling the untreated waste. But even though Rafael complied, subsequent testing showed that some wells had already been contaminated. Without passing a law on how to fund the cleanup, the ministry's director general believes there will be no way to fund treatment of the contamination.

Ultra-Orthodox protesters attacked and damaged three buses in the city of Beit Shemesh near Jerusalem on Wednesday, after a female traveling on one of the buses refused a Haredi passenger's order to move to the back and sit separately from the men.

The Public Security Ministry plans to make psychological testing a prerequisite for obtaining a gun permit, not merely a medical-history form signed by a doctor.

Tel Aviv University made a U.S. list of schools that churn out startup founders. The Israeli university is the only non-American institution on list of 16 schools that produce successful startup entrepreneurs.

More than 100 10th-grade students from 28 schools all over Israel, mostly in the periphery, attended high-level math and physics classes sitting in front of a computer through distance learning this past academic year. The main goal of the project is to solve the continuing decline in math and science education in Israel’s schools.

The ongoing partial strike by Foreign Ministry employees, which interfered with arrangements for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Poland in June, among other diplomatic activities, now threaten educational trips to Poland scheduled for 17 groups of Israeli high school students in August.

Newly elected Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau became embroiled in controversy on Tuesday, after he was recorded making remarks about African-American basketball players that some judged as racist.