Israel news

IDF mobilises as fears over olive wars grow

By Anshel Pfeffer, October 22, 2009

The IDF is deploying unprecedented forces in the West Bank to ensure that this year’s olive harvest can be carried out smoothly.

In past years, violent clashes have broken out between settlers and Palestinians over the right to pick olives around some of the settlements.

This year, the Defence Ministry’s civil administration in the West Bank has mapped out the ownership of all olive groves near settlements which are classified as “flash points”. A mobile battalion-sized security team of Border Police and the Special Patrol Unit has been formed to secure the area.

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Israel extends visa for illegal worker youth

By Anshel Pfeffer, October 22, 2009

The government will allow 1,200 children of foreign workers whose visas have expired to remain in Israel until the end of the school year, next July.

Previously, the government had ruled that the children, most of whom were born and raised in Israel, would have to leave with their families by November 1, but it reversed its decision following a public outcry.

The decision highlights the difficulty of formulating a consistent policy on an estimated 400,000 foreign workers, close to three quarters of whom lack a valid work visa.

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Rights group is biased on Israel, says its own founder

October 22, 2009

The founder of Human Rights Watch has blasted the group for “writing report after report about Israel” while ignoring the rest of the Middle East.

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Israel slips down rankings for media freedom

By Jessica Elgot, October 20, 2009

Israel has lost its place at the top of Middle Eastern states for media freedom after the restrictions placed on journalists during the Gaza war.

Reporters San Frontières, which complies an annual ranking of media freedom in 176 countries, placed Israel in 93rd place, below Kuwait, UAE and Lebanon.

Severe restrictions were placed on journalists covering the Israeli offensive in Gaza. Three journalists were killed in Gaza, 20 injured and five were arrested.

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Weizmann letter to Lady Lloyd George fails at auction

By Robyn Rosen, October 16, 2009

A letter written and signed by the first president of Israel, Chaim Weizmann, has failed to find a buyer at an auction.

The letter, which was estimated to fetch up to £1,500, was written to Lady Lloyd George, the first female MP and daughter of the First World War prime minister, Lloyd George, on October 26 1945.

Mr Weizmann, who was also president of the World Zionist Organization, wrote that he was “deeply moved” by a letter Lady Lloyd George had written in the Daily Telegraph.

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Britain will abstain from Goldstone UN vote

By Jessica Elgot, October 16, 2009

Britain will abstain from a crucial United Nations vote today over whether to endorse the Goldstone Report, despite urgent calls from Israel for Gordon Brown to reject it.

The UN Human Rights Council will vote in Geneva on whether to accept the report, which was strongly critical of Israel’s conduct during the Gaza offensive in January this year.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reportedly held a heated phone conversation with Mr Brown yesterday where he claimed that if the resolution against Israel was to pass; it could completely derail the peace process.

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Israeli house prices rise by one quarter

By Simon Griver, October 15, 2009

The price of Israeli homes has risen by 24 per cent over the past two years, according to a Bank of Israel (BOI) survey.

In recent months price rises have accelerated, with the value of the average home rising by an annualised rate of 15 per cent in August, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics.

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The end of Israeli-Turkish ties?

By Anshel Pfeffer, October 15, 2009

The Israeli government is split over the correct response to Turkey’s decision to cancel a joint military exercise. While the Foreign Ministry is in favour of a belligerent stance, the defence establishment is trying to lower the tensions.

Israeli, American, Italian and Turkish warplanes were due to simulate dogfights against each other this week over Turkey, but Ankara barred Israel from participating at the last minute, in protest at Operation Cast Lead. The other participants then pulled out, leading to the cancellation of the manoeuvre.

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Turkish state TV depicts 'bloodthirsty' IDF soldiers

By Jessica Elgot, October 15, 2009

Watch the controversial Turkish TV drama

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Ken Loach: reaction to Israeli film donations row

By Robyn Rosen, October 15, 2009

Film director Ken Loach, a supporter of the Israeli film boycott, has criticised the chief executive of Israel’s leading film distribution company, who, he claims, did not inform him that his latest film would be shown at the Haifa Film Festival.

Mr Loach has frequently attacked Israel’s action in Gaza and was among the high - profile figures urging organisers of the Toronto Film Festival to drop a celebration of Tel Aviv last month.

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