Israel news

Poll shows Israelis have conflicted views on immigrants

By Nathan Jeffay, January 28, 2010

A new poll shows that Israelis hold deeply conflicted views on immigration, considering new immigrants vital for the state, but also worrying they make Israel crime-ridden and boozy.

Some 73 per cent of Israeli Jews deem immigration important for Israel, the Geocartography Knowledge Group, a research company, found in a survey commissioned by the Immigration and Absorption Ministry.

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Netanyahu ‘blasted’ Gilad Shalit negotiator

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 28, 2010

According to reports, Israel’s senior negotiator in the talks to free captured soldier Gilad Shalit was severely criticised by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for overstepping his mandate.

The negotiator, Hagai Hadas, had initially agreed to some of Hamas’s demands before being censured by Mr Netanyahu, who appeared to blame him for offering too much to Hamas.

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Analysis: IDF prepares for another Goldstone war

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 28, 2010

Thirteen months after Operation Cast Lead ended, the IDF is bracing itself for a new round of demands to set up an independent commission of inquiry into its actions. Meanwhile, Israel’s diplomats are gearing up to ward off new attempts to use the Goldstone Report as a lever for putting the country in the dock.

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Chabad excommunicates rabbi

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 28, 2010

A new schism emerged last week in the Lubavitch movement in Israel following reports that one of the leaders of its “messianic” stream had stopped fasting on days marking the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.

Rabbi Gedalya Axelrod, a leading Lubavitch rabbi in Haifa, published a letter last week saying that “according to halachah”, Rabbi Zimroni Tzik, who runs the Chabad House in Bat Yam, should be excommunicated.

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Israel ‘not ready’ for a major earthquake

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 28, 2010

The Israeli Defence Ministry will hold a national earthquake preparedness exercise this year, in response to the Haiti disaster. Experts estimate that between 20 and 50 per cent of Israeli buildings are not built to withstand a large earthquake.

Israel is situated in the northern part of the Great Rift Valley in an area which historically has known devastating earthquakes. Seismological experts are convinced that a large-magnitude earthquake in Israel in the next few decades is all but inevitable.

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Peace talks on hold as Obama admits failure

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 28, 2010

Senior Israeli officials have acknowledged that the chances of a resumption of high-level talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in the near future are very slim.

US envoy George Mitchell, who made yet another trip to the region this week, also played down expectations.

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Hamas: We never promised to recognise Israel

By Jessica Elgot, January 22, 2010

Hamas has strongly denied claims made by British businessman David Abrahams that it is prepared to recognise Israel.

The Jerusalem Post reported that after meeting Labour Party donor Mr Abrahams in Hebron, the Hamas Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Aziz Dwaik, had said that the group was prepared to renounce the Hamas charter, which calls for the destruction of Israel.

Mr Dwaik has since denied he ever said such a thing, and wrote on the Hamas website that the group would never recognise any occupation of Palestinian lands.

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Frum Friends storms Israeli primetime

By Nathan Jeffay, January 21, 2010

A bride starts menstruating a few hours before her wedding. How will she get through her wedding day and night, given that Orthodox couples cannot have physical contact when the woman has her period?

This may sound like an exam question for rabbinical school but, believe it or not, it is the storyline from the season premiere of Israel’s hottest television programme.

When Srugim, dubbed the frum version of Friends, first hit the small screen 18 months ago, the Israeli public was expecting the normal clichéd religious characters and bad jokes.

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Mrs Netanyahu sued by her maid

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 21, 2010

A lawsuit against the Netanyahu family brought by their former housekeeper has cast a new set of question marks over the conduct of Sarah Netanyahu and her influence on her husband’s policy-making.

Lillian Peretz, who was employed for six years as housekeeper at the Netanyahu weekend home in Caesarea, claimed in the Labour Court lawsuit that she was paid beneath the minimum wage, not given social benefits and forced to work on Saturdays despite being Shabbat-observant.

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David Abrahams meets Hamas

By Jessica Elgot, January 21, 2010

British businessman David Abrahams claims to have obtained a significant concession from Hamas following a private meeting with the group’s leadership.

Mr Abrahams says that Palestinian Legislative Council speaker Aziz Dwaik told him the organisation “may be prepared” to nullify the Hamas Charter, which calls for the destruction of Israel.

Once a key player in Labour’s “donorgate” scandal, Newcastle property developer Mr Abrahams says he has set out on a personal mission to help negotiate peace in the Middle East.

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