Israel news

Quartet: Palestinians should oversee Gaza crossings

By Jennifer Lipman, June 22, 2010

The Middle East Quartet peace mediators have called for Palestinian security personnel to operate the crossings from the Gaza Strip into Israel.

In a statement, the organisation said there should be a Palestinian Authority (PA) presence at the border as a way of reuniting the area with the West Bank and placing pressure on Hamas.

Following Israel’s move to ease the land blockade by allowing most civilian goods into Gaza, the Quartet, made up of representatives from the United States, Russia, the EU and the UN, said they are exploring “additional ways” to improve conditions.

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Israeli guides back in Bethlehem after decade

By Jennifer Lipman, June 21, 2010

Israel has lifted a ten-year ban on Jewish and Druze tour guides working in Bethlehem.

The IDF said the shift in policy wa s intended to “contribute to the Palestinian and Israeli economy and promote tourism”.

Israeli tour guides have been unable to work in the city since the outbreak of the second intifada in 2000.

But the policy change means tour groups visiting from Israel, many of whom are Christian pilgrims visiting the biblical birthplace of Jesus, will no longer have to change guides as they enter the West Bank.

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Blair: the door is open for Hamas

June 21, 2010

Tony Blair talks to Richard Angell from Progress about Israel's decision to liberalise its policy on Gaza and his hopes for Middle East peace

Always known for being an optimist, Tony Blair doesn't miss the opportunity to launch into how the change in Israeli policy will make a difference to everyday Gazans.

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Israel welcomes Kyrgyzstani refugees

By Jennifer Lipman, June 21, 2010

Israel has offered humanitarian support to a group of refugees from Kyrgyzstan.

Twelve people from the conflict zone in the south of the country are to be granted immediate Israeli citizenship in a welcoming ceremony.

There is currently large scale ethnic violence tearing the central Asian nation apart, with more than 2,000 people thought to have been killed and many more injured in fighting between the Uzbeks and Kyrgyz.

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Bibi to meet Barack Obama at White House

By Jennifer Lipman, June 21, 2010

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has arranged to meet President Barack Obama in Washington next month.

Following Israel’s announcement that it will ease the blockade of Gaza, the two leaders are to meet at the White House on July 6 to explore “additional steps” for the region.

A meeting had been scheduled for June 1 but was postponed in the wake of the clashes on the Gaza-bound flotilla.

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Gaza blockade to be eased quickly

By Jennifer Lipman, June 21, 2010

Israel has set out details of how the Gaza blockade will be eased to allow in increased building equipment and food.

Under the new plan, which Israel has said will be implemented “as quickly as possible” it is expected that all civilian goods will be permitted to go into the area unless they are specifically banned.

Food, domestic supplies and building materials for Palestinian Authority and United Nations approved construction will be allowed in, with only "problematic dual-use" that could be used as weapons or in manufacturing arms prohibited.

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Elton John: No-one will stop me playing in Israel

By Jessica Elgot, June 18, 2010

Elton John has performed a triumphantly successful concert to nearly 50,000 cheering fans in Ramat Gan, telling Israelis: “Nobody gonna stop me from playing here, baby”.

The country’s music fans have suffered several high profile cancellations, including bands such as the Pixies, Carlos Santana, Gorillaz, the Klaxons and, most recently, Elvis Costello.

Many of the acts cancelling their performances said they had been targeted by pro-Palestinian groups.
But Sir Elton John, who has played in Israel twice previously, told the audience: “We do not cherry-pick our consciences.”

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Gaza blockade eased but Hamas demand full lift

By Jessica Elgot, June 18, 2010

Israel’s announcement that it will ease the blockade of Gaza has been welcomed internationally but dismissed by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.

Israel has already announced that some construction material, like cement and steel, supervised by international groups, will now be allowed through the blockade.

A full list of the newly approved items has not been released but Israeli media has widely speculated that all food items, toys, stationery, kitchen utensils and mattresses will be allowed in to the Strip.

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Downsize me: Israel shuns fast food

By Nathan Jeffay, June 17, 2010

For two decades it has been flying the flag for American fast food in a sea of falafel shops and shwarma joints. But Burger King is to vanish from Israeli high streets this summer.

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Diplomat's bid to 're-brand' Israel

June 17, 2010

You might think it easier to run up Masada every day with a bag of rocks on your back than take on Ido Aharoni's mission: to improve Israel's public image.

For three years, the urbane diplomat has headed the Israeli foreign service's "brand management team", charged with encouraging people elsewhere to see the country in a more positive light.

But he has an upbeat message for those in the diaspora who want to aid his work. "Help us celebrate Israel's success."

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