Israel news

Shabbat wars erupt over Intel Jerusalem factory

By Anshel Pfeffer, November 19, 2009

Attempts at mediation have failed so far to prevent another round of Shabbat protests in Jerusalem, this time over a high-tech factory working seven days a week.

The Intel plant in Jerusalem’s Har Hotzvim business park has carried out limited work on Shabbat for over three decades. The start of a new manufacturing process, which will greatly increase the work taking place on Shabbat, had sparked calls for renewed protests. It has been two months since the previous Shabbat protests against an open municipal car park petered out.

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Analysis: Why Bibi will not go to Copenhagen

By Anshel Pfeffer, November 19, 2009

Greenpeace Israel held an unusual demonstration outside the prime minister’s office in Jerusalem on Sunday. Dressed as El Al cabin crew, they held aloft a giant boarding card with passenger Binyamin Netanyahu’s name.

They demanded the government put the issues of global warming and protection of the environment higher up its agenda and, as a start, urged Mr Netanyahu to fly to Copenhagen next month for the global climate summit.

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Israel is officially out of recession

By Simon Griver, November 19, 2009

Israel is officially out of recession after the Central Bureau of Statistics reported that the country’s economy grew 2.2 per cent on an annualised basis in the third quarter of 2009.

This followed 1 per cent growth in the second quarter.

Israel was one of the last Western countries into recession, enjoying growth of 4 per cent last year despite a contraction of 1.6 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2008. The recession hit hardest in the first quarter of this year, when the Israeli economy contracted by 3.2 per cent.

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A day of pride for Ethiopians

By Ben Lynfield, November 19, 2009

For their forebears in Ethiopia, the Sigd was a religious holiday renewing their covenant with God and expressing longing for Zion. But for many among the thousands marking it in Jerusalem on Monday, the festival was more of a day of ethnic pride.

“The sigd is very empowering,” said Aviva Nagosa, 32. “It is the only thing left that joins us all together.”

While in Ethiopia, the Sigd highlighted the uniqueness of the Beta Yisrael — the ancient Jewish community — amongst their Ethiopian neighbours, today it defines them as a distinguished group among other Israeli Jews.

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Woman arrested for wearing tallit at Western Wall

By Jessica Elgot, November 18, 2009

A woman has been arrested by Israeli police for wearing a tallit at the Western Wall.

Nofrat Frenkel, who was wearing a tallit, a kippah and carrying a Torah scroll, was arrested during the Women of the Wall’s Rosh Chodesh prayers.

Police who arrested Ms Frenkel say she was violating Israeli law that a certain dress code should be worn at the Kotel.

Forty women were attending the prayers in the Western Wall square when Ms Frenkel was allegedly seen reading from the scroll by members of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, who called police.

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UK, US critical of new home building in Jerusalem

By Jessica Elgot, November 18, 2009

The British and US governments and the United Nations have denounced plans approved by Israel to build 900 homes in Gilo, a neighbourhood in Jerusalem.

The building has been approved by the Israeli Interior Ministry has approved the expansion of the neighbourhood in south west Jerusalem.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "The Foreign Secretary has been very clear that a credible deal involves Jerusalem as a shared capital. Expanding settlements on occupied land in East Jerusalem makes that deal much harder. So this decision is wrong and we oppose it."

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EU: A Palestinian state is ‘premature’

By Jessica Elgot, November 17, 2009

The European Union has said that Palestine is not ready to be recognised as a full state by the UN.

The current holder of the EU presidency, Carl Bildt of Sweden, said at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels that conditions were not yet right for Palestinian statehood.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said they had decided to seek recognition of the Palestinian state from the UN because of the failure of recent peace talks.

The proposal is an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital and with June 1967 borders.

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Call to bar criminals from aliyah

By Anshel Pfeffer, November 12, 2009

The arrests of two alleged killers who were allowed to immigrate to Israel despite previous brushes with the law have strengthened calls for a change in the Law of Return.

Yaakov (Jack) Teitel, who was arrested a month ago by the Shin Bet (Security Service), is suspected of carrying out a long list of terror attacks on Palestinians, left-wing and gay-rights activists, messianic Jews and police, including two murders of Palestinians in 1997. The murders were carried out while Teitel was still an American tourist living on the Kfar Tapuach settlement.

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IDF set to investigate Goldstone Report

By Anshel Pfeffer, November 12, 2009

The IDF has formed an internal commission which will investigate the claims raised in the Goldstone Report over alleged war crimes during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza earlier this year.

While many voices in Israel over recent weeks supported the launch of a judicial commission of inquiry over the Goldstone allegations, the IDF has staunchly resisted “putting the IDF on trial”, insisting that the army’s internal investigations were sufficient.

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Rabbis' dismay as transplant rules change

By Anshel Pfeffer, November 12, 2009

Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman has dismayed the Israeli medical community and many rabbis by announcing that organ transplants are to be allowed only after the donor’s heart has stopped beating.

His decision contradicted a recent agreement between rabbis and doctors that said that transplants could be carried out following brain death.

Mr Litzman, of the United Torah Judaism party, made his position clear in a letter to a medical conference last week.

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