■ TEL AVIVIANS attending the festive launch of renewed Sheinkin Street last Friday were surprised to see that the person hobnobbing with Mayor Ron Huldai on the balcony overlooking the fabled street was President Shimon Peres, whose official residence is in Jerusalem but whose private residence has for more than half a century been in Tel Aviv. Peres told the huge crowd below that he had spent much of his youth in Tel Aviv and had grown up not far from Sheinkin Street and, like everyone else, wanted to see what the street looked like after it had been renovated.He was very pleased with the result, he said. Huldai said he was delighted that Peres had chosen to take part in the celebrations. Sheinkin Street, said Huldai, is not just another street in Tel Aviv. It is a symbol of Tel Aviv. He was confident that with the face-lift it has received, it will attract even more people than in the past. Sheinkin Street was always known for its unique stores and its colorful population, many of whom are part of Tel Aviv’s bohemian society.■ THE SEVENTH Annual Convention to be hosted on December 20 by the Arab-Jewish Center in Jaffa will discuss future relationships between Arabs and Jews with the participation of policy makers, public figures and the general public. In a session on political discourse in the next Knesset, participants will include Interior Minister and Shas Chairman Eli Yishai, MK Ahmed Tibi, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, Religious Services Minister Ya’acov Margi, MK Sheikh Ibrahim Sarsur, Rabbi Michael Melchior, MK Muhammad Barakei, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, MK Daniel Ben-Simon, The Movement Chairwoman Tzipi Livni, MK Ilan Gilon, Construction and Housing Minister Ariel Attias, MK Ze’ev Elkin, MK Hanna Swaid, MK Avishai Braverman, MK Orit Zuaretz, MK Dov Henin, MK Afo Agbaria and Meretz Chairwoman Zehava Gal-On.In another session on the role played by culture and art in the Jewish-Arab dialogue, some of the participants will be actor and radio host Natan Datner; actress and radio host Odeya Koren; singer Ahinoam Nini; guitarist Gil Dor; actor Yussuf Abu Warda; singer Amal Murkus; film director Basel Tannous and painter Abed Abdi.There will also be a session devoted to education, with the participation of prominent figures from Israel’s haredi community. These includeYaffa Deri, the wife of Rabbi Aryeh Deri, whose political comeback has been in the headlines in recent weeks. This session is prompted by figures released by the Central Bureau of Statistics, which noted that 50 percent of first-grade children this year came from Arab and haredi communities. There will also be sessions on social welfare and sports.■ PRIME MINISTER Binyamin Netanyahu last week hosted local council heads from the south of the country at his Jerusalem residence and told them: “The IDF acted with strength, and as soon as the operation’s goals were achieved, we ended it. We will continue to closely monitor the situation to see to it that the quiet is maintained. If it is violated, the IDF is ready to respond strongly. I salute the residents of the South. Their resilience enabled us to achieve the goals that we set.”Beersheba Mayor Rubik Danilovich said at the start of the meeting that the operation proved that Israel has a strong home front. Harel Locker, director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office, who had been tasked by Netanyahu to head the government team on ensuring that the needs of the residents and communities that were affected by Operation Pillar of Defense are dealt with quickly, said that in addition to the immediate response by the tax authorities regarding compensation for direct damages, the Knesset Finance Committee last Tuesday approved directives on compensation for indirect damages such as loss of work days and compensation for businesses. Moreover, a preliminary NIS 15 million aid package has been approved for local authorities to cover expenses stemming from the security situation.Local council heads who attended the meeting included Abu-Basma Local Council Chairman Rahamim Yona, Ashdod Mayor Yehiel Lasri, Ashkelon Mayor Benny Vaknin, Be’er Tuviya Local Council Chairman Dror Shor, Beersheba Mayor Rubik Danilovich, Bnei Ayish Mayor Mark Bassin, Bnei Shimon Regional Council Chairman Sigal Moran, Gan Yavne Mayor Dror Aharon, Hevel Yavne Regional Council Chairman Eliezer Benfeld, Hof Ashkelon Regional Council Chairman Yair Firjean, Lachish Regional Council Chairman Danny Morviya, Nahal Sorek Regional Council Chairman Eli Escosido, Ofakim Mayor Zvika Greengold, Omer Mayor Pini Badash, Rahat Mayor Fayez Abu Dahiban, Ramat Hanegev Regional Council Chairman Shmulik Lipman, Rishon Lezion Mayor Dov Tzur, Sderot Mayor David Buskila and Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council Chairman Alon Shuster.Although all the communities represented were familiar to the prime minister, they are not necessarily familiar to the general public. During Operation Pillar of Defense several television and radio announcers, in the wake of red alerts, noted that they were in relation to settlements that most people had never heard of before.