Israel news

Mickey Mouse magic: Disney plans Israel theme park

By Jennifer Lipman, January 5, 2011

The Holy Land is set to become an even more magical place. Disney has announced that it is to open a theme park in Israel.

The Walt Disney Company, which has amusement parks in the US, France and Hong Kong, is planning to open another in Haifa in 2013.

The park, which will cover 20 acres of land near the Carmel Tunnel, will be home to a 25-screen cinema complex, shops and other entertainment facilities.

The project is expected to cost more than £107 million.

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Guardian website 'preoccupied with Israel'

By Jennifer Lipman, January 4, 2011

Israel was the sixth most written about country by the Guardian website in 2010, coming in front of Pakistan, Iran and Zimbabwe.

The Jewish state featured in 1008 stories during the year; more than double the combined total of mentions for its Middle Eastern neighbours Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt.

Jordan appeared 39 and Syria 85 times, while there were 126 reports about Lebanon and 219 about Egypt.

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Israel: Mossad vulture part of academic study

By Jennifer Lipman, January 4, 2011

Israeli authorities have said that a bird captured by Saudi Arabia on suspicion of being a Mossad spy is part of an academic study.

Less than a month after the governor of South Sinai accused the Israeli intelligence organisation of orchestrating a fatal shark attack in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, Saudi officials have seized a vulture equipped with a GPS chip.

According to reports in the Israeli media the bird was discovered after it flew into Saudi territory, at which point concerned residents alerted security officials.

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Terror plot discovered at UK consulate in Jerusalem

By Jennifer Lipman, January 4, 2011

The Israeli security service Shin Bet has uncovered an alleged plot by two Palestinian employees of the UK consulate in Jerusalem to sell weapons to terrorists.

The pair, named by the British Foreign Office as Mohammed Hamadeh and Bilal Bakhatan, have been charged along with another man with illegally selling arms.

The Israeli authorities said they believed the weapons were for use by two Hamas members from east Jerusalem who have been indicted on suspicion of planning to launch a missile at a Jerusalem football stadium.

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Israel hails giant energy find

By Marcus Dysch, December 31, 2010

The discovery of a huge natural gas field off the coast of Haifa could secure Israel's long-term energy security, according to experts.

The 16 trillion cubic feet of gas, 80 miles away from the Jewish state under the Mediterranean, represents the world's biggest find in the past decade.

One macroeconomist claimed the fuel could be worth as much as $95 billion and will allow Israel to avoid dependency on other states for their energy.

Dubbed "Leviathan", the field was discovered during drilling earlier in the year. Its size was confirmed this week.

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Ex-president Katzav guilty of rape

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 30, 2010

Israel was shocked this morning as former president, Moshe Katzav was found guilty of two counts of rape, one of an obscene act, one of sexual harassment and of attempting to subvert the course of justice.

The Tel-Aviv District Court, headed by Judge George Kara, upheld the claims of three un-named women who had worked in Mr Katzav's office when he served as president and previously as tourism minister. The court's verdict was total and devastating, rejecting the defence's claims and describing the former president's version as "riddled with lies."

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'Israel risks losing the whole world'

By Marcus Dysch, December 29, 2010

A senior Israeli minister has warned that the "whole world", led by the United States, may back a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood if Israel does not commit to peace talks.

Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, the Trade and Industry Minister and a veteran Labour Party politician, said talks with the Palestinians must resume, even if Israel were forced to renew a freeze on settlement construction in the West Bank.

His warning, delivered to cabinet colleagues on Sunday, is the first admission by a senior Israeli official of a potential rift with its key ally.

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Cyber-race is on as web goes Hebrew

By Nathan Jeffay, December 29, 2010

There was a stampede for website addresses in Israel this week, as all-Hebrew addresses went on sale.

While Israelis have been able in the past to buy website addresses in Hebrew characters, they end in .com, requiring visitors to switch their keyboard between languages and change the direction of typing.

But instead of .com, the new addresses will end in a suffix made up of Hebrew characters.

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Hamas loads the launchers once again

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 29, 2010

Hamas has escalated its rocket attacks from Gaza, two years after Operation Cast Lead. But Israeli officials believe that the movement is not interested in a return to open hostilities and is, for now, "testing the limits".

Before this month and since the end of the Gaza conflict two years ago, Hamas had refrained from taking part in the attacks against Israeli patrols on the border and from carrying out missile launches against Israeli towns and kibbutzim.

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WikiLeaks set to turn on Israel

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 29, 2010

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has promised that future documents to be published from the trove of leaked American diplomatic cables, will shed light on operations of the Mossad and Israel's Second Lebanon War in 2006.

According to Mr Assange, in an interview with Al-Jazeera, of the 3,700 cables - out of the 260,000 in WikiLeaks' possession - that deal with Israel, three quarters were sent by the American Embassy in Tel-Aviv.

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