Israel news

Proposal to twin Dublin and Gaza

By Jennifer Lipman, July 6, 2010

The newly elected Lord Mayor of Dublin has suggested twinning the Irish capital with the Gaza Strip out of “sympathy”.

Gerry Breen proposed that the City Council explore the idea at its next monthly meeting, but said it was not meant as a criticism of Israel but as a positive step.

He said: "Gaza doesn't necessarily need to benefit from it, sometimes you can do these things because it's the right thing to do.

"It's saying that we empathise with the plight of the inhabitants in that area."

Both Dublin and Gaza are already twinned with Barcelona.


Netanyahu to meet Obama at White House

By Jennifer Lipman, July 6, 2010

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has set off for Washington to meet President Obama for what some have described as a “make-up visit”.

They are expected to discuss whether direct peace-talks between Israel and the Palestinians can be restarted, something Mr Netanyahu supports and Mr Obama sees as crucial to a two-state solution.

Mr Netanyahu recently said he was ready to meet the Palestinian President “today and tomorrow and the next day at any place.”

Palestinian leaders have so far rejected calls to start face-to-face negotiations.


Noam Shalit slams IDF for Gilad kidnap

By Jennifer Lipman, July 5, 2010

Gilad Shalit’s father has attacked the IDF for falling “asleep on the job” during the cross-border raid in which the soldier was captured more than four years ago.

Noam Shalit said official failings enabled the terrorists to infiltrate and kidnap his son, as well as kill two other Israeli soldiers.

He made the comments while on a visit near to the Kerem Shalom crossing between Israel and Gaza, where the then 19-year-old soldier was kidnapped by Palestinian militants in June 2006.


Turkey demand Israel apologise for flotilla raid

By Jennifer Lipman, July 5, 2010

The Turkish foreign minister has warned that the country will sever ties with Israel unless it apologises for the clash on a Gaza-bound flotilla in May.

Nine Turkish pro-Palestinian campaigners died and Israeli commandoes were attacked by activists wielding knives.

Ahmet Davutoglu said that Turkey will not wait long for the demands to be met, adding: "If they do not make any move, the process of isolating Israel will continue.”

An inquiry panel has already been set up in Israel, with two international overseers including Lord Trimble.


Israel ready to release 1,000 prisoners for Shalit

By Marcus Dysch, July 2, 2010

Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu has said he is prepared to release 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Gilad Shalit.

In a live address on Israeli television, Mr Netanyahu said he was ready "to pay the price" of releasing the prisoners, but would not allow them to return to the West Bank and would not set free "arch-terrorists".

He has come under increasing pressure from Shalit's family. More than 10,000 supporters of the family marched in Netanya on Friday morning as part of a 12-day protest march to Jerusalem.


Ayalon: Shalit is the only Gaza crisis

By Jessica Elgot, July 1, 2010

Danny Ayalon told 70 ambassadors, including representatives from Egypt and the EU, at the Kerem Shalom Gaza crossing, that Israel consumes 25,000 tons of imported food and Gaza consumes 10,000 tons. Israel has a population which is seven times larger than Gaza.

However, Israel produces much of its own food, whereas Gazans depend greatly on imported supplies.

He said: “Israel is making every effort to make sure Gazans lack nothing. Hamas is the only obstacle in the residents' way.


Israeli school drop-outs on the rise

By Nathan Jeffay, July 1, 2010

The number of Israeli youngsters dropping out of school increased by 36 per cent last year, according to new official figures.

The Central Bureau of Statistics, a governmental body, said that in the 2008-2009 academic year the number of drop-outs was 40,000, compared to 29,000 in the previous 12 months.

In recent years the Education Ministry enjoyed some success in reducing drop-out rates, but experts believe that in the long-term its efforts will be come to little as disillusionment with the education system grows.


Israelis back Steiner schools

By Nathan Jeffay, July 1, 2010

Israelis are clamouring to send their children to schools and nurseries run according to the dictates of an Austrian philosopher who was obsessed with karma, reincarnation and the contribution of Jesus to humanity.

This year, three new high schools opened which run according to the principles of anthroposophy, the "spiritual philosophy" of Rudolf Steiner, who died in 1925. In total, Israel now has 50 nurseries, 14 primary schools and four high schools run according to these principles. Plans have just been drawn up for another primary school for Tel Aviv in September.


Jerusalem building plan advances

By Nathan Jeffay, July 1, 2010

Arab neighbourhoods in east Jerusalem will, for the first time, be subject to Israeli building regulations if a plan by the Jerusalem municipality gets government approval.

The proposal has been opposed by Arab representatives as it would extend Israeli authority over the area, and is considered particularly sensitive as American President Barack Obama does not want a change to the status quo in the city at the moment.


Hamas: We can wait to free Gilad Shalit

By Moeen Elhelou, July 1, 2010

Hamas founding member Mahmoud al-Zahar has said that the movement is not in a rush to conclude a deal over Gilad Shalit.

"I think the deal will happen, but if not, we have patience," he said, referring to the deal nearly concluded last year through the German mediator.

The deal fell through when the parties failed to agree on the identity of the last 125 Palestinian prisoners to be released, with Israel refusing to set free prisoners who were responsible for major terror attacks.