Israel news

Israel champion Burt is Middle East minister

By Martin Bright, May 21, 2010

The appointment of Alistair Burt as Middle East Minister in the Foreign Office sends as clear a message as possible about the direction of the new government in the region. Mr Burt is listed as an officer in the parliamentary group of Conservative Friends of Israel and has been passionate in campaigning for visiting rights to Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier held hostage by Hamas for the past four years.

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Israel wary of Iranian nuclear deal with Turkey

By Jessica Elgot, May 18, 2010

An Israeli government official has called Iran’s new nuclear deal with Turkey and Brazil a “trick”, as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met cabinet members to discuss their concerns.

An agreement was signed yesterday in Tehran that Iran would ship enriched uranium to Turkey.

The enriched uranium would be exchanged for nuclear rods – which can be used in scientific research but cannot be processed to make weapons. However, Iran has said it will still continue to enrich its own uranium.

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Elvis Costello to boycott Israel gig

By Jessica Elgot, May 18, 2010

British musician Elvis Costello has pulled out of two concerts in Israel, saying in a statement that he did not want his performance to be a “political act”.

The move contradicts his comments in an interview with the Jerusalem Post two weeks ago when Costello said that he did not approve of cultural boycotts, and that he believed that “dialogue is essential” to resolve the conflict.

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Chomsky anger as Israel refuses him entry

By Jessica Elgot, May 17, 2010

US academic Noam Chomsky has been refused entry to the West Bank from Jordan by Israeli immigration officials.

The Jewish professor of linguistics and philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who is a vocal critic of Israel, had been due to give a lecture at Birzeit University, near Ramallah.

But today an Israeli Interior Ministry spokesman said that the ministry would do all it could to ensure Professor Chomsky could get into the country.

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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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