Israel news

Israel, Palestinians agree to peace talks

By Jessica Elgot, March 8, 2010

Israel and the Palestinians have agreed to indirect peace talks, brokered by US special envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell.

Mr Mitchell, who is currently in Israel, met Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu over the last two days to raise the issue of restarting negotiations. He then met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas this afternoon.

Israel and the Palestinians are expected to conduct four months of negotiations through a US mediator, which will focus on security issues and borders of a potential future Palestinian state.


Apartheid activist slams 'Israel Apartheid Week'

By Marcus Dysch, March 4, 2010

A renowned anti-apartheid activist has defended Israel against comparisons with racially segregated South Africa.

South African-born Benjamin Pogrund, former deputy editor of the Rand Daily Mail in Johannesburg, visited Britain this week as pro-Palestinian groups marked the sixth annual Israeli Apartheid Week.

He said: "I say flatly: Israel within its 1948 borders is not an apartheid state. That is nonsense. Anyone who says it is has either forgotten or does not know what apartheid was."


Ben Gurion airport hit by new safety fears

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 4, 2010

Just how safe is it to land at Ben Gurion airport? Within the next few weeks, the Israeli State Comptroller will publish a comprehensive report chronicling endemic safety failures in the country's civil aviation.

At the root of the problem is the crowded airspace.


Right-wing MK ‘Give Palestinians Israeli citizenship’

By Nathan Jeffay, March 4, 2010

Tzipi Hotovely, an MK on the right flank of the Likud, surprised political observers last month by saying that Israel should give citizenship to Palestinians in the West Bank.

The country's political centre is increasingly talking about this scenario - but as a potentially disastrous move that will be forced on them if attempts to create a Palestinian state fail.

Defence Minister Ehud Barak said earlier this month that Israel needs a Palestinian state to come into existence because, without one, it has only two options - to become a "bi-national country" or "an apartheid country".


Israel creates law to ‘solve’ infertility crisis

By Nathan Jeffay, March 4, 2010

The Israeli government has resolved to end a decade-long fertility crisis which has seen ova donations almost disappear, leaving infertile women reliant on imported eggs.

Egg donors have always been in short supply in Israel, as a 30-year-old law states that only women who are already having eggs harvested as part of their own fertility treatment can donate.

But while women who were undergoing fertility treatment did donate, it emerged in 2000 that some doctors had removed patients' eggs for transplant without permission, leading to an enormous drop in donations.


Analysis: Riots in Israel are not an intifada

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 4, 2010

The images of youths throwing stones and border policemen firing tear-gas grenades back at them last week in the alleyways of Hebron and at the entrance to the Temple Mount seemed eerily reminiscent of the two intifadas. But that is all they were: images.

So far, a widespread uprising throughout the territories, coupled with gradually escalating responses by the Israeli security forces, has failed to materialise; the riots seem to be petering out. This is not a third intifada, at least not yet.


Government science advisor rejects evolution

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 4, 2010

The Chief scientific adviser of the Israeli Education Ministry may be forced to resign after he rejected evolution and the connection between human activity and global warming.

Doctor Gabi Avital, an expert in rocket science from the Technion and a veteran Likud Party member, was posted to the education ministry three months ago. Accusations of political cronyism soon followed as in the past the post was held by experts in the field of education.

The adviser's responsibilities include reviewing the national science school curriculum.


Building plans in east Jerusalem on hold

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 4, 2010

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been forced to intervene in Jerusalem's building plans to prevent another diplomatic row with America.

On Tuesday, Mr Netanyahu asked Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat to put on hold his plan to demolish 22 houses in the Silwan neighbourhood of east Jerusalem and build a tourism complex in their place.

Mr Barkat had announced his plan earlier that day at a press conference in City Hall. According to the plan, 22 buildings in Silwan which were built without planning permission will be demolished to make way for a series of parks, hotels and restaurants.


Analysis: Is this the end of Bibi’s coalition?

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 4, 2010

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has become embroiled in another criminal investigation, just when a decision on a possible indictment against him seems imminent.

If he is indicted, Mr Lieberman will have to resign his ministerial post and many coalition insiders believe that his party, Yisrael Beiteinu, will not stay for long in the Netanyahu government. Their departure would almost certainly cause a dramatic change in the coalition's make-up and could lead to the entry of the main opposition party, Kadima, into the government.


Analysis: Row over shrines could shape the Middle East

By Nathan Jeffay, February 25, 2010

The excitement was palpable in Jerusalem this week. Archaeologists hit the jackpot.

They went public with their latest discovery: 420 sq m of ancient city wall which they believe to be from the 10th century BCE.

"This is the first time that a structure from that time has been found that may correlate with written descriptions of Solomon's building in Jerusalem," announced Eilat Mazar, who directed the excavations.