Israel news

Tycoon property war erupts in Jerusalem

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 13, 2011

Jewish, Israeli and Palestinian millionaires are trying to go beyond politics and decide the future of east Jerusalem using their money and business acumen to wage real-estate battles against each other.

This week the demolition of the Shepherd's Hotel in Sheikh Jarrah, owned by the settlers' patron, American millionaire Irwin Moskowitz, made headlines around the world.

But another tug-of-war has been fought behind the scenes over a planned Jewish neighbourhood in east Jerusalem.


NGO probe plan stirs up storm in Israel

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 13, 2011

The Knesset vote in favour of a parliamentary commission of enquiry into the foreign sources of finance for Israeli human-rights groups has caused a political storm, not only between the right and left but also within the ruling Likud party.


Netanyahu: paid less than David Cameron

By Jennifer Lipman, January 11, 2011

Benjamin Netanyahu is paid less than both David Cameron and footballer Yossi Benayoun.

The Israeli Prime Minister revealed his monthly salary of 15,027 shekels (£2,700) by posting his pay slip on his Facebook page.

Personal information was blurred on the slip, but the document suggests that Mr Netanyahu makes more than £90,000 a year.

Writing in Hebrew, Arab and English, Mr Netanyahu told his 3,750 Facebook fans that he had posted the document online “to provide total transparency concerning my monthly pay slip”.


Mossad vulture free to fly away

By Jennifer Lipman, January 10, 2011

A vulture captured by Saudi Arabian authorities on suspicion it was a Mossad spy is to be returned to the wild.

The bird, detained last week, was equipped with a GPS transmitter because it was part of an environmental research project.

Prince Bandar bin Saud Al Saud, the head of the Saudi wildlife agency, told local media that tests had proved that the bird had been incorrectly identified as a delegate of Israel’s intelligence agency.

He said: “The system tied to its feet is traceable by satellites to know birds’ emigration movements and how they feed.


The woman who brought down Moshe Katzav

By Jenni Frazer, January 8, 2011

An Israeli political adviser has spoken openly to the JC about her ordeal at the hands of Moshe Katzav, the ex-president whose conviction for rape has stunned the country.

Her story spans 20 years at the heart of the political establishment and her testimony was crucial in his conviction by three judges on charges of rape and sexual harassment against female subordinates.

In a full and frank interview, she told how the kippah-wearing father-of-five professed his love for her, harassed and humiliated her before accosting her in a hotel room.


Baroness Ashton: Quartet should meet 'as soon as possible'

By Jennifer Lipman, January 7, 2011

The European Union’s High Representative has urged the Mideast peace Quartet to meet within the next few weeks in order to encourage progress on stalled peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

Baroness Ashton said: "I propose the Quartet meet as soon as possible to help find a solution to the current impasse.”

She suggested that a meeting should take place around the Munich Security Conference at the beginning of next month.

The foreign policy chief made the comments following a meeting with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.


Moshe Katzav: Shock and anger sweep Israel - but also pride

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 6, 2011

Moshe Katzav is planning to appeal against his conviction - but he may have to do it from a prison cell.

The judges' damning verdict leaves little doubt that he will be handed a lengthy prison term before he is able to take his case to Israel's Supreme Court.

But despite fierce criticism of the conduct of the trial by Katzav and his supporters, opinion polls suggest most Israelis think he received fair treatment.


Should Israel export its gas find?

By Nathan Jeffay, January 6, 2011

Israel's latest natural gas find totals 16 trillion cubic feet, the company leading drilling, Noble Energy, has announced.

The past two years have seen the discovery of two massive offshore energy deposits in the Mediterranean Sea.

The first was the Tamar natural gas field, thought to hold 6 trillion cubic feet of gas, where production is expected to begin in 2012.

The second was Leviathan, where exploratory drilling has just taken place, leading to the 16 trillion cubic feet estimate. This quantity of gas is worth around £60 billion in today's market.


Israeli soldiers warned over Facebook use

By Nathan Jeffay, January 6, 2011

During the Second World War, the British government famously released posters warning: "Careless talk costs lives." Now the IDF is running a contemporary equivalent campaign - against indiscreet Facebook posts.

Top brass have written to all commanders asking them to urge subordinates to be careful what they post on Facebook and other social networking sites.

It urges against posting photos taken on bases or pictures of soldiers which give away information about their role in the army, such as by revealing unit insignia, or where they live.


Knesset votes for NGO probe

By Marcus Dysch, January 6, 2011

THe Knesset has voted overwhelmingly in favour of establishing a parliamentary committee to probe funding of human rights groups in Israel.

The right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party proposed the bill, calling for an investigation into the actions of NGOs monitoring the activities of the IDF in the West Bank.

The motion claimed a coalition of international organisations was working under the guise of human rights to encourage draft-dodging and label IDF soldiers and commanders as war criminals.