News in Brief

Hezbollah case to be tried in New York

New York State’s highest court ruled Tuesday that a Lebanese bank’s use of a New York account for multimillion-dollar wire transfers establishes the basis for a lawsuit in the United States by Israeli victims of 2006 Hezbollah rocket attacks. The lawsuit was filed by American, Canadian and Israeli citizens who live in northern Israel. It claims that the Lebanese Canadian Bank supported terrorism by handling international financial transactions of the Hezbollah affiliate Shahid Foundation. A federal judge had dismissed a prior lawsuit against the now-defunct Beirut bank in 2010, for lack of jurisdiction. “What we’re trying to accomplish here, and in other cases like this, is to make it harder and harder for terrorist groups to obtain weapons such as rockets,” plaintiff attorney Robert Tolchin said.‏(AP‏)

Israel Corp. subsidiary buys Negev thermo-solar power station

The Israel Corporation announced yesterday that its renewable energy subsidiary, IC Green Energy, would be buying a 90% stake in a thermo-solar power station that is planned at Mashabei Sadeh, a kibbutz in the Negev. IC Green Energy is acquiring the interest in the project from Two Sigma Private Investments, a New York-based hedge fund sponsor, and has committed to invest up to $1 million for various licenses with the option of getting out of the project at any stage. Thermo-solar technology has been a subject of some controversy in recent weeks as the price for a competing method of producing electricity through photovoltaic cells has dropped in price. (Itai Trilnick )

The Azorim real estate company is continuing to rely on the deep pockets of its controlling shareholder, Hershey Friedman, in an effort to improve its problematic financial picture. The company announced yesterday that it was taking several steps to reduce its leveraging, mainly through a step announced several months ago that calls for Friedman to transfer real estate assets he owns personally in Israel and Poland to Azorim. The private assets Azorim will be getting include land on which 218 housing units can be built in Motza, just west of Jerusalem. The company also announced that it is considering issuing a new bond series. (Michael Rochvarger )

Income gap between middle-income and poorest Israelis narrows, study finds

The income gap between the lowest-earning Israelis and those in middle income groups narrowed between 1987 and 2010, while the gap between the middle class and the highest earners widened, according to a Tel Aviv University study that was released yesterday. The study, which used Central Bureau of Statistics figures, found that the gap between the bottom four income deciles and the fifth and sixth deciles dropped by between 1% and 5% during the 23-year period under review, while the gap between the latter group and the top three income deciles widened by 5% to 15%. "If the middle class could once separate itself from the lowest deciles, today they find it more difficult," said Oren Danieli, the graduate student who conducted the research under the direction of Prof. Eran Yashiv. (Hila Weissberg )

Sales at retail chains fell in August-October

Turnover at the country's big retail chains fell 4.5% in August-October in annualized terms following three months without any change, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported yesterday. The figures were the latest indication that the economy is slowing. Earlier this week the agency published a preliminary estimate of third-quarter gross domestic product that showed expansion at its slowest in three years. Yesterday's retail data showed that supermarket sales showed the biggest drop at a 5.9% annualized pace during the three months, extending a drop of 2.6% in May-July. For the first 10 months of the year sales at the big chains were up an annualized 3.1%, with supermarket sales rising 1.9%. (Moti Bassok )