Israel news

VIP Israel offer for Elvis Costello

By Jennifer Lipman, May 25, 2010

Singer Elvis Costello has been invited on a VIP trip to Israel, just days after the star pulled out of concerts there for political reasons.

Mr Costello called his surprise decision to cancel two performances in Caesarea next month a matter of instinct and conscience. He said: “I cannot imagine receiving another invitation to perform in Israel, which is a matter of regret.”

Now education group StandWithUs have offered the Grammy award - winning musician a free five star tour, to coincide with a planned concert in Tel Aviv in August by his wife Diana Krall.


Police recommend indicting Israeli foreign minister

By Jennifer Lipman, May 24, 2010

Israeli police have demanded that foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman be indicted for obstructing an investigation into allegations of fraud and embezzlement.

They believe he was shown classified documents relating to the case by former ambassador to Belarus, Zeev Ben Aryeh in 2008.

They also recommend charging Ben Aryeh for breach of trust and obstruction of justice.

At the time of the leak, Lieberman was a member of the Knesset and was under investigation for failing to report income to tax authorities and for accepting bribes.


Australia expels Israeli diplomat

By Jennifer Lipman, May 24, 2010

Israel has expressed disappointment after another diplomat was expelled over the murder of a Hamas leader in January.

The Australian government expelled an unnamed Israeli diplomat today, saying it had no doubt Israel was behind the forged passports linked with Mahmoud al-Mabhouh’s death in a Dubai hotel.

Israeli has denied responsibility for the killing but at least four passports belonging to Australians living in Israel were used in the mission.

Yigal Palmor, from the Israeli foreign ministry, said Israel regretted the deci s ion.


Israeli whistleblower jailed

By Jennifer Lipman, May 24, 2010

Israeli nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu is back in prison after violating parole conditions.

Mr Vanunu, 55, was jailed in 1986 for disclosing confidential information about Israel’s nuclear operation to the British media.

The former technician at the Negev Nuclear Research Centre served 18 years of his sentence and was released in 2004, on condition he did not travel abroad, speak to the media or have contact with foreign nationals.


Interview: Rachel Liel

May 21, 2010

Both sides in the public debate raging around the activity of the New Israel Fund (NIF) agree on one thing: this is a battle for Israel's soul.

The fund's detractors claim that the organisations funded by NIF are actively undermining Israel's security, supplying information to anti-Israel groups and calling for the indictment of senior Israeli officers and ministers on war crimes charges.


Israeli mother who starved child avoids prison

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 21, 2010

The strictly Orthodox woman from Jerusalem who was charged with starving her three-year-old son was convicted of intentionally harming her child in a plea bargain with the prosecution on Monday.

According to the terms of the plea bargain, the mother will not serve any prison time but will spend the next three years under house arrest, following which she will be sentenced by the court.


Ex-Charedim challenge school system

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 21, 2010

A former education minister, an ex-general and a university president have joined a group of formerly Charedi men in challenging the political arrangement which allows strictly Orthodox schools to receive state funding despite not teaching secular subjects.

For the past five years, the Education Ministry has been trying to make all Israeli schools that are financed by the government teach a set of core subjects - including grammar, mathematics, basic sciences and English - as a condition of funding.


Comment: Chomsky ban shows up bad border policy

May 21, 2010

Outside of the extreme right, it was hard to find this week in Israel someone who would justify the decision to deny entry to Professor Noam Chomsky. Even the various agencies of the government seem to agree belatedly that there was no reason to prevent the professor from travelling from the Jordanian border to Bir Zeit University in the West Bank and delivering his scheduled lecture.

The decision to deny entry to the 81-year-old Jewish academic was taken by a low-level Interior Ministry official, who was in charge of immigration at the Allenby Bridge Crossing that day.


Israel champion Burt is Middle East minister

By Martin Bright, May 21, 2010

The appointment of Alistair Burt as Middle East Minister in the Foreign Office sends as clear a message as possible about the direction of the new government in the region. Mr Burt is listed as an officer in the parliamentary group of Conservative Friends of Israel and has been passionate in campaigning for visiting rights to Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier held hostage by Hamas for the past four years.


Israel wary of Iranian nuclear deal with Turkey

By Jessica Elgot, May 18, 2010

An Israeli government official has called Iran’s new nuclear deal with Turkey and Brazil a “trick”, as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met cabinet members to discuss their concerns.

An agreement was signed yesterday in Tehran that Iran would ship enriched uranium to Turkey.

The enriched uranium would be exchanged for nuclear rods – which can be used in scientific research but cannot be processed to make weapons. However, Iran has said it will still continue to enrich its own uranium.