Israel news

BBC's Bowen: Problems in US-Israel relations 'enjoyable'

By Jessica Elgot, May 14, 2010

The BBC’s Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen has said that a report where he described the tension in US-Israeli relations as “enjoyable” was down to an editing glitch.

In his piece ‘Analysis: Bleak climate for Mid-East talks’ for the BBC News website, Mr Bowen wrote: “It has been an unusual and enjoyable new experience to be able to look on as the Israelis argued with their most important ally.”

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Palestinian boy 'shot by settlers', reports claim

By Jessica Elgot, May 14, 2010

Palestinian witnesses claim a 14-year-old boy was shot dead by Jewish settlers in the West Bank last night.

The witnesses, including the boy’s cousin, told police the boy was shot on Highway 60, a short distance from Ramallah after Palestinians threw stones at the car of the settlers.

He has been named locally as Ayssar Yasser from the village of Mizra al-Sharqiah, but this has not been confirmed by Israeli police.

The IDF said the body of a teenager had been found and the cause of death was unclear.

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Israel enters OECD

By Simon Griver, May 13, 2010

Israel has been officially accepted as a member of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the forum of the world's most developed economies.

The 31 member nations voted unanimously for Israel's accession in Paris on Monday, and also accepted Estonia and Slovenia.

Israel's Minister of Finance, Prof Yuval Steinitz, said the vote has implications far beyond the economic sphere.

"This has huge diplomatic significance at a time when Israel is under attack and being delegitimised in the international arena."

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Is Israel next in line to ban the burka?

By Nathan Jeffay, May 13, 2010

If a Knesset member has her way, Israel will soon follow in Belgium's footsteps and ban the burka.

Last month, Belgium's lower house of parliament backed a bill to ban face-covering clothing in public. Now, Kadima's Marina Solodkin has resolved to introduce similar legislation to the Knesset, directed at Muslim women and members of a tiny Charedi cult in Beit Shemesh who have begun covering their faces.

For precedent she does not cite the Belgians but a political force rarely held up in Israel as an inspiration - the Soviets.

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Analysis: Counter-espionage hard in a free society

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 13, 2010

In the wake of the arrests of Amir Mahoul and Omar Said, Israeli Arabs have accused the government and the security services of political persecution.

The State Prosecutor's Office will indeed have to work hard to prove that the arrests and the attendant secrecy was warranted. If the two are released without indictment, it will be a major embarrassment for the entire justice system. But there is a significant degree of disingenuousness in these accusations.

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Analysis: No point to Israel-Palestine proximity talks

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 13, 2010

In a week's time, American negotiator George Mitchell will return to Jerusalem, meet Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for a couple of hours, and then hop into his car for the short drive to Ramallah and a meeting of similar length with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Everything will be as it has been so many times over the last year, with one difference: this time the meetings will be called "proximity talks".

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Israeli-Arab leaders arrested as spies

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 13, 2010

Two senior Arab-Israeli activists have been arrested on charges of espionage and contacts with Hizbollah.

Their arrests, which took place over the past three weeks, were the subject of a gag-order until it was partially lifted on Monday.

Amir Mahoul, 52, of Haifa and Omar Said, 50, of Kfar Kana are currently being questioned by the General Security Service (the Shabak) and the police's International Investigations Unit.

The two were arrested on charges of serious espionage and contact with a foreign agent who was, according to the Shabak, a member of Hizbollah.

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Israelis celebrate Jerusalem Day

By Jessica Elgot, May 12, 2010

Israelis have celebrated Jerusalem Day, marking 43 years since the unification of Jerusalem in 1967, when east Jerusalem was captured from the Jordanians.

Thousands of police have been mobilised in Jerusalem, as Jewish nationalists prepared a celebratory march across the city. Tensions were high in the east of the city as most Palestinians still view the area as a future capital of an independent Palestine.

An open air concert was held to celebrate the day, with American band, Kool and the Gang, performing.

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Egypt and Syria "boycott" Lieberman

By Jessica Elgot, May 11, 2010

Israel’s Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, plans to attend a Mediterranean leaders’ conference despite threats from Egypt and Syria that they will boycott it in protest at his presence.

The conference, due to take place in Barcelona next month, is being held by the Union for the Mediterranean, an EU-sponsored initiative to promote good relations among Mediterranean countries.

Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is also scheduled to attend the event, which is to be co-chaired by France and Egypt.

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Israel joins group of world's richest countries

By Jessica Elgot, May 10, 2010

The group of the world’s richest nations, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, has accepted Israel as a member.

Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said the move was “historic”.

He added: “It gives legitimacy to Israel as an advanced and developed country.”

But Israel’s trade minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer accused the Palestinian Authority of trying to derail the bid. The PA had written to the OECD urging them to delay the vote on whether to accept Israel.

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