Israel news

Israel ready to release 1,000 prisoners for Shalit

By Marcus Dysch, July 2, 2010

Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu has said he is prepared to release 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Gilad Shalit.

In a live address on Israeli television, Mr Netanyahu said he was ready "to pay the price" of releasing the prisoners, but would not allow them to return to the West Bank and would not set free "arch-terrorists".

He has come under increasing pressure from Shalit's family. More than 10,000 supporters of the family marched in Netanya on Friday morning as part of a 12-day protest march to Jerusalem.

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Ayalon: Shalit is the only Gaza crisis

By Jessica Elgot, July 1, 2010

Danny Ayalon told 70 ambassadors, including representatives from Egypt and the EU, at the Kerem Shalom Gaza crossing, that Israel consumes 25,000 tons of imported food and Gaza consumes 10,000 tons. Israel has a population which is seven times larger than Gaza.

However, Israel produces much of its own food, whereas Gazans depend greatly on imported supplies.

He said: “Israel is making every effort to make sure Gazans lack nothing. Hamas is the only obstacle in the residents' way.
 

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Israeli school drop-outs on the rise

By Nathan Jeffay, July 1, 2010

The number of Israeli youngsters dropping out of school increased by 36 per cent last year, according to new official figures.

The Central Bureau of Statistics, a governmental body, said that in the 2008-2009 academic year the number of drop-outs was 40,000, compared to 29,000 in the previous 12 months.

In recent years the Education Ministry enjoyed some success in reducing drop-out rates, but experts believe that in the long-term its efforts will be come to little as disillusionment with the education system grows.

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Israelis back Steiner schools

By Nathan Jeffay, July 1, 2010

Israelis are clamouring to send their children to schools and nurseries run according to the dictates of an Austrian philosopher who was obsessed with karma, reincarnation and the contribution of Jesus to humanity.

This year, three new high schools opened which run according to the principles of anthroposophy, the "spiritual philosophy" of Rudolf Steiner, who died in 1925. In total, Israel now has 50 nurseries, 14 primary schools and four high schools run according to these principles. Plans have just been drawn up for another primary school for Tel Aviv in September.

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Jerusalem building plan advances

By Nathan Jeffay, July 1, 2010

Arab neighbourhoods in east Jerusalem will, for the first time, be subject to Israeli building regulations if a plan by the Jerusalem municipality gets government approval.

The proposal has been opposed by Arab representatives as it would extend Israeli authority over the area, and is considered particularly sensitive as American President Barack Obama does not want a change to the status quo in the city at the moment.

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Hamas: We can wait to free Gilad Shalit

By Moeen Elhelou, July 1, 2010

Hamas founding member Mahmoud al-Zahar has said that the movement is not in a rush to conclude a deal over Gilad Shalit.

"I think the deal will happen, but if not, we have patience," he said, referring to the deal nearly concluded last year through the German mediator.

The deal fell through when the parties failed to agree on the identity of the last 125 Palestinian prisoners to be released, with Israel refusing to set free prisoners who were responsible for major terror attacks.

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Gilad Shalit: The march for freedom

By Nathan Jeffay, July 1, 2010

Gilad Shalit's father has begun a high-profile, 11-day march from his Galilee home to Jerusalem, prompting analysts to predict that Israel will soon resume negotiations with Hamas over the kidnapped soldier.

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Bedouin man's Bible bid

By Jennifer Lipman, June 29, 2010

A Bedouin teacher and a group of IDF soldiers are in the running to become Israel’s first Bible champion in nearly 30 years.

Shadi Abu Ara, who teaches Hebrew literature to Arab schoolchildren, has his entire class behind him as he attempts to win first place in the Israeli contest.

If he emerges as the winner at the competition in December, he would go on to compete in the international championship in 2011.

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Egyptian paper criticised for Nazi cartoon

By Jennifer Lipman, June 29, 2010

A newspaper with close links to Egypt’s government has been slammed by Israel for an “antisemitic” cartoon showing an Israeli flag with a Nazi swastika in the place of the Star of David.

The caricature, in Egyptian daily Al-Watani al-Youm (the National Today) imagines an aid ship headed for Gaza being grabbed by an octopus carrying the vandalised Israeli flag.

Shani Cooper-Zubida, from the Israeli Embassy in Cairo, complained after the cartoon appeared in the paper on June 15.

She said the “comparison between Israel and Nazism” was unacceptable and defamatory.

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Lieberman: Palestinian statehood far away

By Jennifer Lipman, June 29, 2010

Israel’s Foreign Minister has delivered a blow to hopes of an independent Palestinian state in the near future.

Avigdor Lieberman said: “There is absolutely no chance of it before the year 2012”.

He said: "One can dream and imagine, but we are far from reaching an agreement."

Mr Lieberman said it is time for the Palestinians to make moves towards peace, as Israel had already made many steps.

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