Israel news

Conversions cause political storm

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 16, 2010

The Knesset voted unanimously on Wednesday in favour of a law affirming the conversions carried out by the IDF's rabbinate, despite warnings by the Charedi parties of a political crisis.

The Shas leader, Interior Minister Eli Yishai, said following the vote that: "If the law goes ahead, we will consider leaving the coalition".

Shas and United Torah Judaism both oppose the law which will give conversions performed in the IDF the same status as those carried out by the civilian conversion courts of the Chief Rabbinate.

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Bon Jovi tells Larry King, we're off to Israel

By Jennifer Lipman, December 16, 2010

American rock band Bon Jovi is to tour Israel for the first time.

The group, famous for hits including Living on a Prayer and It’s My Life, are to play in Israel next year.

The tour is to mark the release of Bon Jovi’s 11th album, The Circle.

Frontman Jon Bon Jovi revealed the planned concert during an interview with Larry King, the Jewish American television presenter who is leaving his late night CNN chat show Larry King Live this evening, after 25 years interviewing everyone who matters in the public eye.

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Palestinian Arab leader struck wartime deal with Nazis

By Jennifer Lipman, December 15, 2010

The Nazis told the leader of the Palestinian Arabs that in return for his help during the Second World War he would have control of Palestine.

According to a report released this week by the US National Archives, based on thousands of declassified documents, the Nazis planned to make the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, overall leader after the British were ousted and the 350,000-strong Jewish population was murdered.

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Ancient Roman statue unearthed in Israel storm

By Jennifer Lipman, December 15, 2010

The stormy weather that hit Israel this week had an unexpected consequence when an ancient Roman statue was unearthed on an Ashkelon beach.

A passer-by noticed the headless marble statue, thought to be at least 1700 years old, after the storm left it exposed in the sand. The white marble figure, which is 1.2 metres tall and weighs 200 kilograms, is wearing a toga but no longer has arms.

A spokesman for the Israel Antiquities Authority said that what was thought to be part of a Roman bathhouse was also unearthed.

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Dead Sea could be new seventh wonder of world

By Jennifer Lipman, December 13, 2010

The Dead Sea is up against the Iguacu waterfalls in South America, the Maldives and the Grand Canyon in a competition to be named one of the new wonders of the world.

The famous waters are one of the finalists in the New7Wonders of the World contest, along with Mount Vesuvius in Italy and the Great Barrier Reef.

The Dead Sea is one of only three sites in the Middle East to have made the shortlist; the others are Bu Tinah island in Abu Dhabi and the Jeita Grotto in Lebanon.

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Snow falling on Jersualem, extreme weather in Israel

By Jennifer Lipman, December 13, 2010

After months of unusually warm weather and dangerously low rainfall, Israel is now experiencing the other extreme – snow.

The country has been hit by the largest snowstorm in two decades, with 120 centimetres of snow falling on Mount Hermon in the north.

The weather raging across the Middle East also caused a Moldovan ship to sink in the Mediterranean Sea, 15 kilometres off the coast of Ashdod in the south. All the crew members escaped the ship.

Light snowfall has also fallen around the country including in Jerusalem.

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EU, UN criticise Israel for settlements

By Jennifer Lipman, December 10, 2010

Israel’s refusal to change its position on settlement building has prompted criticism from members of the European Union and the United Nations.

The rebukes came as Israeli envoy Yitzhak Molcho flew to Washington to discuss the progress of the peace process at meetings with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Middle East George Mitchell.

On the same day Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak met Thursday with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

EU High Representative Catherine Ashton said that the EU considered settlements an obstacle to peace.

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EU, UN criticise Israel for settlements

By Jennifer Lipman, December 10, 2010

Israel’s refusal to change its position on settlement building has prompted criticism from members of the European Union and the United Nations.

The rebukes came as Israeli envoy Yitzhak Molcho flew to Washington to discuss the progress of the peace process at meetings with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Middle East George Mitchell.

On the same day Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak met Thursday with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

EU High Representative Catherine Ashton said that the EU considered settlements an obstacle to peace.

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The mountain gave up few survivors

By Rafi Beyar, December 10, 2010

The Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa is northern Israel's largest tertiary hospital, serving more than two million people and 11 district hospitals. As such, sadly, all too often, we need to be ready to respond at a moment's notice to emergency situations, sometimes involving multiple causalities.

When we receive word of such a situation, as we did last Thursday, we immediately go on high alert.

Dozens of physicians and nurses make ready to receive the injured, some on them rushing to the campus on their days off to do whatever they can to help.

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Regenerated Haifa becomes the city to watch in 2011

By Nathan Jeffay, December 9, 2010

The global affairs magazine Monocle has singled out Haifa as top of its "places to watch for business opportunities in 2011".

It explains that Haifa - which flourished under British rule, before Israeli independence - has been in "steady decline for the past few decades," yet its "massive head-to-toe regeneration effort" is "starting to have an impact."

Mayor Yona Yahav views the award as recognition of his success in turning the city round during his seven years in office.

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