Israel news

Israeli army spokesman used alias in London for safety

By Jennifer Lipman, February 9, 2011

A senior official in the Israeli army has revealed that fears about being targeted by anti-Israel activists prompted him to travel to London recently - in disguise.

More than a year after Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni cancelled a London speech for fear of arrest under Britain’s universal jurisdiction law, Brigadier-General Avi Benayahu found it necessary to visit Britain under an assumed identity and accompanied by security guards.


Call for Israel to join NATO

By Jennifer Lipman, February 8, 2011

The president of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) has called for Israel to be admitted into NATO in order to guarantee its survival in the future.

Ronald Lauder, writing in German newspaper Die Welt, said: “Israel needs real guarantees for its security.

“European NATO member states – including Turkey – must admit the state of Israel into the Western alliance.”

Mr Lauder referred to the anti-government uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia and said they were reminders of how “unpredictable” developments in the Middle East were.


Palestinian Authority: local elections in July

By Jennifer Lipman, February 8, 2011

The Palestinian Authority has announced plans to hold municipal elections this summer.

If it goes ahead, the vote will be the first opportunity Palestinians have had to elect their leaders since 2006 and the first local elections in six years.

Ghassan Khatib, a spokesman for ruling party Fatah, said the vote had been scheduled for July 9, more than five years after Hamas won the popular vote in legislative elections.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas postponed the vote last July because Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, refused to take part.


Benny Gantz named IDF chief after Galant dropped

By Jennifer Lipman, February 7, 2011

Benjamin Netanyahu has finally named a new chief of staff for the Israel Defence Forces (IDF).

The Israeli Prime Minister said Benny Gantz would take charge of the IDF, provided the nomination by Defence Minister Ehud Barak is accepted by the cabinet.

Mr Gantz, a paratroop commander, will become the 20th person to serve as Israel’s top military commander.

Mr Netanyahu said: “He is an experienced commander and an excellent officer. He has all the qualities and all the necessary experience to be an excellent IDF chief of staff.”


Praise for Israel's West Bank economic steps

By Jennifer Lipman, February 7, 2011

The British government has praised Benjamin Netanyahu’s announcement that Israel is to take concrete steps to advance economic growth in Palestinian areas.

The Israeli Prime Minister, along with Quartet envoy Tony Blair, revealed on Friday plans to help Gaza become more independent by developing its sanitation and water treatment plants.

The proposals also included moving forward with plans for a gas supply for the Palestinians, the revenue from which would go to the Palestinian Authority, and boosting exports from Gaza.


Mighty Mouse: Israel's bomb sniffing mice

By Jennifer Lipman, February 4, 2011

Israel’s advanced security methods are known as some of the best in the world, but a new development should raise more than a squeak.

Researchers from BioExplorers, a Herzliya-based company, have discovered that mice can be used to detect bombs.

They believe the technique could even be more accurate in finding explosives than the controversial full-body scanners.


Matthew Gould: 'enormous potential' for UK-Israel cooperation

By Jennifer Lipman, February 3, 2011

Matthew Gould has called for increased cooperation between Israeli and British scientists.

The British ambassador to Israel, speaking to Israeli newspaper Ynet soon after the inaugural meeting of the UK-Israel Life Sciences Council, said: "There is enormous potential for the UK to use Israel's innovation.”

Mr Gould, the first Jewish diplomat to hold his position, added: “Israel can provide the UK with a reservoir of relatively low-cost and high quality innovation which the UK could easily tap into.”


Scandal brings down Israel's top soldier

By Nathan Jeffay, February 3, 2011

Israelis are notoriously prone to squabbling with their neighbours. But never before has a neighbourly dispute spiralled in to the kind of crisis the country has seen this week, shaking the political and military establishment.

On Tuesday, just two weeks before the Israel Defence Force's new Chief of Staff was due to take up his post, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak announced that they were overturning his appointment.


Amnesty 'aligns with terrorists' to support Hizbollah spy

By Jennifer Lipman, February 3, 2011

Amnesty International have been criticised for losing its “moral compass” after mounting a campaign in support of a convicted spy for an Islamist terrorist organisation.

The Middle East and North Africa deputy director of the human rights organisation called the jailing of Hizbollah spy Ameer Makhoul “a very disturbing development”.


Israeli politicians could face swearing fine

By Jennifer Lipman, February 2, 2011

Israeli politicians could soon face a fine for using bad language.

The Knesset Ethics committee is set to consider a proposal to punish members who swear or speak insultingly to their colleagues by charging them up to 34,000 shekels (£5,700).

The amount is equal to an entire month’s salary.

At present Knesset members can only be fined for prolonged lapses in attendance or for taking on outside work.

The committee will meet later this month to decide whether to approve the new set of behavioural recommendations.