Israel news

Rabbi compares Jewish Agency to rioters

By Jessica Elgot, October 14, 2009

The rabbi in the centre of the row over gender segregation at the Western Wall has compared the Jewish Agency to the Jerusalem rioters.

Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, has previously demanded more stringent gender segregation at the Western Wall, causing the Jewish Agency to halt all ceremonies for new olim at the Kotel.

The head of immigration and absorption at the Jewish Agency, Paula Edelstein, refused to segregate men and women during the ceremony, and the organisation will now hold the presentation at its own headquarters in Jerusalem.

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Fatah seeks peace agreement with Hamas

By Jessica Elgot, October 14, 2009

Fatah have signed a preliminary truce deal with Hamas, amid rising tensions between the two Palestinian factions over the Goldstone Report.

But Hamas is yet to sign the agreement, and a spokesman for the party said their leadership would not be pressurised into peace.

Hamas has been strongly critical of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who originally refused to push for a UN debate on the Goldstone Report.

The UN-commissioned report had been critical of Israel’s conduct during the Gaza offensive earlier this year.

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Barak to Miliband: Don't accept Goldstone

By Jessica Elgot, October 14, 2009

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak has urged David Miliband not to accept the UN’s Goldstone report into Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, which found Israel guilty of war crimes.

Mr Barak has embarked upon a telephone campaign to key European foreign ministers to persuade them to criticise the report ahead of the meeting of the UN Human Rights Council, who will discuss the report on Thursday.

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Jewish Agency stops Western Wall ceremonies

By Jessica Elgot, October 13, 2009

New Israeli citizens will no longer have their immigration ceremony held at the Western Wall after a row erupted over gender segration at the Kotel.

Instead of a ceremony at the Wall, in which new olim are presented with their Israeli passports and identity cards, the Jewish Agency will hold the event at the Jewish Agency Courtyard.

Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, has previously demanded more stringent gender segregation at the Western Wall, causing a rift between him and the head of immigration and absorption at the Jewish Agency, Paula Edelstein.

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Nobel Laureate calls for release of Palestinians

By Jessica Elgot, October 13, 2009

The Israeli Nobel prizewinner Professor Ada Yonath has called for the release of Palestinian prisoners.

Professor Yonath, who won the Nobel Prize for chemistry last week, said she believed imprisoning Palestinians just created more terrorists.

She also said she believed that the release of the prisoners should not be used as bargaining tool for kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.

"It's not clear to me why we're holding these Palestinian terrorists, or what we call 'terrorists,’” she told Israel Army Radio.

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Turkey bans Israel from air drill because of Gaza

By Jessica Elgot, October 12, 2009

Israel was deliberately excluded from a multinational air force exercise by Turkey because of concerns over Gaza, the Turkish Foreign Minister has confirmed.

The 11-day air force drill, which would have included Israel, the US, Italy, Holland and pilots from other NATO countries, was due to take place near Konya, in central Turkey.

But Turkey cancelled the exercise, which was due to start today, because it did not want Israel to participate.

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Jews and Arabs unite against Charedi town

By Ben Lynfield, October 8, 2009

Arab Israelis and Jewish kibbutz members are both trying to stop the building of the first Charedi city in northern Israel. But the kibbutzniks are wary of being seen as working too closely with Arabs, fearing Jewish public opinion.

Plans spearheaded by the strictly Orthodox Shas party call for the expansion of the small community of Harish, in the heavily Arab Wadi Ara region, into a Charedi city of 150,000 people.

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Shalit video ‘shows Hamas is serious’

By Anshel Pfeffer, October 8, 2009

The main conclusion of Israeli experts who viewed the video of Gilad Shalit is that Hamas is eager to reach a deal on a prisoner exchange.

The two-and-a-half minute tape handed by Hamas to the German negotiator last week, and broadcast on Israeli television last Friday, confirmed the intelligence assessments regarding Shalit’s condition.

“Nothing we saw there on the tape caused us to fall off our chairs,” said one senior defence official, following detailed analysis of Shalit’s appearance on camera.

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Jerusalem riots 'not new intifada, just Palestinian politics'

By Anshel Pfeffer, October 8, 2009

Experts believe that the outbreak of riots around the Old City of Jerusalem is not the beginning of a “third intifada”, but an attempt by Palestinian leaders to draw their population’s attention away from recent governmental debacles.

Stone-throwing and violent encounters with police began in Jerusalem, in and around the Old City, last Sunday, on the day before Yom Kippur.

The rioting began when a group of French tourists entered the Al Aqsa Mosque compound on the Temple Mount and rumours spread that “the Jews are trying to take over the mosques”.

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Loach film profits to be donated to Israeli cinema

By Robyn Rosen, October 8, 2009

The chief executive of Israel’s main cinema group has announced that all profits from screening of the new Ken Loach film in Israel will be dedicated to promoting Israeli films throughout the world, as a response to the maverick director’s continuous actions against Israeli filmmakers.

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