Israel news

Abbas: Hamas must allow Palestinian vote

By Jennifer Lipman, February 17, 2011

Palestinians will be denied their first opportunity to elect their leaders in five years if Hamas refuses to allow voting in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said today.

Palestinian Authority elections are set to take place this July, a year after they were postponed because the terrorist organisation refused to participate.

But a Hamas spokesman has already signalled the group’s decision to block this year’s vote.

Mr Abbas said: “Unless we are capable of holding elections in both the West Bank and Gaza, then we will not hold elections."

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Holidaying in Israel? Visit Palestine too

February 17, 2011

Eli Gonen, once director-general of Israel's Tourism Ministry under Yitzhak Rabin, has an idea to increase Israeli tourism and support the peace process at the same time.

Cultural and religious tourists could be tempted by advertising combined "Holy Land" packages to "Israel and Palestine", he argues.

While tourist numbers were up to 2.8 million last year, tourism remained static over the previous decade.

But Israelis and Palestinians could enjoy a rise to five million within five years if they co-operated in the marketing of joint packages, he believes.

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Log on to learn truth about the IDF

By Nathan Jeffay, February 17, 2011

A 26-year-old ex-pat Brit, Josh Mintz, is fielding questions from all over the Arab world - about his service in the Israeli army.

Mr Mintz, originally from London, has, with two American friends, set up a new website, friendasoldier.org. Eight former conscripts, who today serve as reservists, take questions from across the world in a bid to show a human side of the Israel Defence Forces - or in the words of the site's slogan, to "humanise the dehumanised."

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Profile: Tzipi Livni

February 17, 2011

There is a widespread expectation in Israel that elections could be held as soon as this autumn - and certainly by next spring. The governing coalition is increasingly unpopular over its handling of domestic issues. But the question asked by politicos is whether opposition leader Tzipi Livni will be able to take advantage. In recent weeks she appears to have developed a new purpose and passion. Can it take her to the head of a new coalition?

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Labour is set to turn left in Israel

By Nathan Jeffay, February 17, 2011

The Israeli labour party leadership primary is to be held on September 7. While the race is wide open, one thing is almost certain - there will be a shift to the left.

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Israel fury over Jordan demo

By Anshel Pfeffer, February 17, 2011

Israel has reprimanded the chargé d'affaires at the Jordanian embassy in Tel Aviv for remarks made by the new Jordanian Justice Minister in favour of releasing a soldier who murdered seven Israeli girls in 1997.

Jordan's King Abdullah replaced his cabinet two weeks ago, appointing Hussein Majali, a prominent lawyer, as the justice minister.

Fourteen years ago Mr Majali was the lawyer for Ahmed Dekamse, a Jordanian soldier who had opened fire on a group of Israeli school-children who were touring the island of Naharayim on the Jordanian border.

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Lieberman: Iran warships Suez route is provocation

By Jennifer Lipman, February 16, 2011

Israel’s Foreign Minister has called the Iranian plan to send two warships to Syria through the Suez Canal tonight a “provocation”.

Avigdor Lieberman suggested that Israel would not tolerate the action by Tehran, which would see warships deployed at several areas near Israel.

He demanded that Iran called off the move and appealed to the rest of the world "to show readiness to deal with the recurring Iranian provocations”.

Mr Lieberman said: “The international community must understand that Israel cannot forever ignore these provocations."

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Israel revolted by Jordan's justice minister plea for murderer

By Jennifer Lipman, February 16, 2011

Israel’s Foreign Ministry has heavily condemned a Jordanian minister’s demands for the early release of a man convicted of murdering seven Israeli schoolgirls in 1997.

Ahmed Daqamseh, a former Jordanian soldier, shot the girls with an automatic rifle and injured seven others at Naharayim, a spot on the Israeli-Jordanian border.

The girls were on a school trip when they were murdered.

Daqamseh was sentenced to a life (25 years) behind bars, but this week the new Jordanian justice minister Hussein Mjali joined anti-Israel demonstrators to demand his release.

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Ashkenazi video triggers Stuxnet rumours

By Jennifer Lipman, February 16, 2011

A video tribute to the outgoing chief of staff of the Israeli army has reignited speculation about whether Israel played a role in a 2009 cyber attack on Iran.

At a party marking Gabi Ashkenazi's departure from his job after four years, the general was treated to a montage of the highlights of his career.

One of the scenes referred to the Stuxnet worm, a virus which it is believed seriously disabled the computer systems at two of Iran’s uranium enrichment sites. However it did not go any further details.

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Security fears at Israeli embassies

By Jennifer Lipman, February 15, 2011

Security concerns could prompt the closure of four Israeli embassies after officials recorded “a number of irregular incidents targeting Israeli destinations” in the past few days.

Anti-Israel groups are this week marking the third anniversary of the death of high-ranking Hizbollah member Imad Mughniyeh. The terrorist organisation has accused Israel of being behind his death and said it would avenge it.

A spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry said that security at four diplomatic locations had been increased and that the threat was being dealt with.

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