Israel news

Netanyahu regret over Gaza aid killings

By Jessica Elgot, May 31, 2010

Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has expressed his regret that nine people were killed in the IDF action against the Gaza flotilla.

The six ships, which were part of a supposed aid mission to Gaza, have now docked in the port of Ashdod and 32 activists have been arrested.

Israeli had previously offered the ships a safe passage to dock in Ashdod and have their aid transported by land to Gaza.

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Dershowitz turns down Israeli ambassador role at the UN

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 27, 2010

Alan Dershowitz has declined a request from Binyamin Netanyahu for the law professor to become Israel's ambassador to the United Nations.

Mr Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman have been searching for an "international media star" to replace the lacklustre Gabriela Shalev, the current ambassador to the UN.

"Netanyahu, who was himself an ambassador to the UN, sees that job as Israel's premier spokesperson abroad," said a senior official at the Foreign Ministry. "That's why he is not interested in appointing a diplomat, but a media performer."

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Vanunu returns to jail in Israel after parole violation

By Jennifer Lipman, May 27, 2010

Israeli nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu is back in prison after violating parole conditions.

Mr Vanunu, 55, was jailed in 1986 for disclosing confidential information about Israel's nuclear operation to the British media.

The former technician at the Negev Nuclear Research Centre served 18 years of his sentence and was released in 2004 on condition he did not travel abroad, speak to the media or have contact with foreign nationals.

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PA drive to boycott settlement goods

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 27, 2010

Israeli officials are concerned that the Palestinian campaign against buying produce from the settlements will escalate into a larger international boycott on Israeli goods.

In recent weeks, the Palestinian Authority published a booklet with a list of Israeli companies that operate in the West Bank and on the Golan Heights, calling upon its people not to buy their products.

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Israel to make jail harsher for Hamas

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 27, 2010

The Knesset this week passed a first reading of a new law mandating harsher prison conditions for Hamas members.

The measure, which was supported by the government, has been nicknamed the "Shalit Law" in reference to captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit who is being held by Hamas in Gaza.

Proposed by Likud MK Danny Danon, the legislation will allow prison authorities to deny Hamas prisoners rights they have enjoyed until now, including family and conjugal visits, academic studies and watching television.

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Rahm Emanuel to meet Netanyahu in Israel

By Jessica Elgot, May 26, 2010

President Barack Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel will meet Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu today and President Shimon Peres tomorrow.

Mr Emanuel, who is in Israel for his son Zach’s barmitzvah, is expected to have an informal chat with both men about the current proximity talks with the Palestinians and to discuss general US-Israel bilateral relations.

The barmitzvah ceremony will be held in Jerusalem, but it is not clear if it will take place at the Western Wall.

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Abbas: 'Second intifada was a mistake'

By Jessica Elgot, May 26, 2010

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said that peace in the Middle East could be achieved in just one week if Israelis were willing to negotiate. But in a surprise move, he expressed regret over the second intifada.

Speaking to Egyptian media, Mr Abbas said that both he and former Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat did not want the intifada in October 2000.

He said: “The second intifada was one of our worst mistakes. Arafat didn't want the intifada to erupt, but he couldn't stop it.”

During the past week Mr Abbas has made encouraging sounds about the proximity talks.

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Israel tipped for Eurovision win

By Jennifer Lipman, May 25, 2010

Israel is tipped to place in the top three at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.

Bookmakers William Hill have put Israel at 13 to 2 odds to emerge as the outright winner on Saturday in Norway.

Azerbaijan are favourites to win the competition, closely followed by Germany.

The Israeli entrant, Harel Skaat, will be singing a ballad called ‘Milim’.

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British Embassy in Israel joins Facebook

By Jennifer Lipman, May 25, 2010

The British Embassy in Israel is now on Facebook.

The UK in Israel page already has 70 members and is growing.

Embassy staff are using the social networking site to provide information about current events, as well as posting links to YouTube videos and the latest photographs from the British Embassy in Tel Aviv.

The British Embassy also has 775 followers on Twitter.

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VIP Israel offer for Elvis Costello

By Jennifer Lipman, May 25, 2010

Singer Elvis Costello has been invited on a VIP trip to Israel, just days after the star pulled out of concerts there for political reasons.

Mr Costello called his surprise decision to cancel two performances in Caesarea next month a matter of instinct and conscience. He said: “I cannot imagine receiving another invitation to perform in Israel, which is a matter of regret.”

Now education group StandWithUs have offered the Grammy award - winning musician a free five star tour, to coincide with a planned concert in Tel Aviv in August by his wife Diana Krall.

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