Israel news

Analysis: Israel hands UN detailed rebuttal of Gaza allegations

By Anshel Pfeffer, February 4, 2010

Israel has handed the United Nations a detailed rebuttal of the Goldstone Report on Operation Cast Lead in Gaza last year.

The document denied the main allegations made by the committee headed by Judge Richard Goldstone: that Israel had intentionally targeted Palestinian civil infrastructures; that the IDF had committed dozens of alleged war-crimes; and that these incidents were not being properly investigated.

Israel has to inform the UN imminently what kind of commission it plans to set up to investigate the findings of the Goldstone Report.

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Livni defends decision not to join Netanyahu coalition

By Stephen Pollard, February 4, 2010

Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni has defended her decision not to join the coalition led by Binyamin Netanyahu.

“I could not join a government that is endangering Israeli security by failing to negotiate with the Palestinians.”

She said that the blame for the lack of talks lay with Mr Netanyahu.

“It is a matter of trust. Words are not enough. Palestinians do not see actions.”

The need for talks was urgent, she said, but Mr Netanyahu was not taking sufficient measures to build trust with the Palestinian Authority.

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Israel's Chief Rabbi 'We'll stop conversion reversals'

By Anshel Pfeffer, February 4, 2010

The Chief Rabbi of Israel, Shlomo Amar and the new attorney general, Yehuda Weinstein, have agreed on new guidelines limiting the powers of rabbinical courts to revoke conversions.

Under the new guidelines, if rabbinical courts question the validity of a conversion carried out by the special conversion courts, the decision will be referred to the president of the Grand Rabbinical Court, Rabbi Amar. He will decide on a special forum of dayanim that will rule on the specific case.

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Analysis: Israel will be blamed for Hamas murder

By Anshel Pfeffer, February 2, 2010

Hamas leadership and the international media, understandably, immediately accused Israel’s Mossad of being behind the killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a Dubai hotel room two weeks ago.

There is no shortage of reasons for this. Mabhouh, for the last six years, was the main Hamas operative in the complex arm-smuggling organisation linking the Gaza Strip and Iran. Israel’s intelligence services have been fighting a major campaign against this pipeline, largely in secret.

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Hamas: Gilad Shalit deal has 'failed'

By Jessica Elgot, February 2, 2010

Negotiations to rescue kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit have collapsed, Hamas’s Mahmoud Zahar has claimed.

Mr Zahar, a founder of Hamas, and one of its most militant commanders, told the BBC that it was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who had caused the “failure” of the talks.

He said: "After the involvement of Benjamin Netanyahu, it appears we have gone one step back. As of now the process has failed."

Israel has been in talks for months through German mediator Gerhard Conrad over a huge prisoner swap for the abducted 23-year-old corporal.

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Berlusconi: My dream for Israel to join EU

By Jessica Elgot, February 1, 2010

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has declared that Israel should become a member of the European Union.

In a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mr Berlusconi said: “My greatest desire, as long as I am a protagonist in politics, is to bring Israel into membership of the European Union."

He added: “We would like a committed friendship to grow from this meeting, to work together toward the future.

"I hope we can all look towards a future of profit and prosperity, particularly peace for you, whose fragile existence is threatened."

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B'Tselem call for Gaza white phosphorus probe

By Jessica Elgot, February 1, 2010

The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem has demanded an investigation into the alleged use of white phosphorous at a UN compound in Gaza, which the IDF denies occurred.

A spokesperson for B’Tselem said: “Israel not only covered up the details of the incident but also refrained from stating, in the report, why measures had been taken against those responsible for this particular event, although many lives were lost in dozes of similar incidents throughout the operation.

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IDF officers disciplined for Gaza 'white phosphorus'

By Jessica Elgot, February 1, 2010

Two senior IDF officers have been found to have “endangered human life” during last year’s Gaza operation, for reportedly firing white phosphorus towards a UN compound, injuring an aid worker.

Gaza Division Commander Brigadier-General Eyal Eisenberg and Givati Brigade Commander Colonel Ilan Malka were subject to disciplinary action from the IDF command for but details of the officers’ punishments were not revealed.

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Netanyahu sues media over wife's staff abuse claims

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 28, 2010

Pressure piled up on PM Binyamin Netanyahu this week as it emerged that another household employee is suing his wife, Sarah. The Netanyahus responded with a libel suit and a complaint to the Israeli Press Council.

Two weeks ago, the former housekeeper of the couple’s weekend home in Caesarea filed a lawsuit which included potentially embarrassing claims about Mrs Netanyahu’s behaviour at home. This was soon followed by a slew of media reports focusing on her personal relationships with members of staff and her influence on the prime minister’s policy-making.

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Poll shows Israelis have conflicted views on immigrants

By Nathan Jeffay, January 28, 2010

A new poll shows that Israelis hold deeply conflicted views on immigration, considering new immigrants vital for the state, but also worrying they make Israel crime-ridden and boozy.

Some 73 per cent of Israeli Jews deem immigration important for Israel, the Geocartography Knowledge Group, a research company, found in a survey commissioned by the Immigration and Absorption Ministry.

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