Israel news

Ehud Barak quits Labour to form new Israeli party

By Jennifer Lipman, January 17, 2011

Ehud Barak and four other former members of Israel’s Labour faction have announced they are to form a new centrist political party.

Mr Barak, who currently serves as defence minister in Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government and was Israel’s 10th prime minister, revealed the creation of the “Independence” party in an open letter to parliament.

The letter said: "The new independent faction will be a centrist Zionist and democratic faction and will advance these ideas in the Knesset and the coalition, and in the future in public.”


Britain 'concerned' over Bilin activist case

By Jennifer Lipman, January 14, 2011

Britain has criticised Israel for extending the sentence of a Palestinian man in prison for his role in weekly and often violent anti-Israel protests.

Abdallah Abu Rahma, a leading figure in the regular demonstrations in the West Bank village of Bilin, was handed the 12 month sentence in October 2010 for incitement and for organising and participating in the unauthorised protests.

He had been arrested eight months earlier, so has now served the conditions of his initial sentence.


Last chance for peace in Middle East

January 14, 2011

Time is running out for Israel to make a deal with the Palestinians, according to three of the most influential figures in recent peace negotiations.

Former Jordanian ambassador to Israel Omar Rifa'i, Dr. Ron Pundak, an initiator of the Oslo peace talks, and former Palestinian Authority minister Dr Sufian Abu Zaydeh were in London to launch a Bicom research paper on Britain's role in the peace process.


Netanyahu: More cash for Birthright

By Jessica Elgot, January 13, 2011

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced that the government will give more than £64m to Taglit-Birthright so that more young Jews can visit Israel for the first time.

UJIA, which co-ordinates the British tours, said the money would have a direct impact on extra places for British participants, although it could not confirm how much extra funding the UK would receive.


Israelis face new border conflicts

January 13, 2011

Israel was facing possible wars on two fronts this week as Hizbollah took a step towards armed revolution in Lebanon and Egypt warned Hamas that it could soon provoke a new attack by Israel.

Meanwhile, three experts in peace negotiations have signalled in exclusive briefings for the JC that time is almost out for Israel to make a deal with the Palestinians.


Israeli police arrest scroll gang rabbi

January 13, 2011

Police hope to have put a brake on the rising number of Torah scroll thefts from synagogues around Israel after arresting two gangs last week.

In the largest of the swoops, police uncovered an unusual example of Arab-Jewish co-operation when they charged three Arabs in Lod and a prominent rabbi from the strictly-Orthodox town of Elad, near Petach Tikvah, with the theft of 70 Torah scrolls.


Moshe Katzav in 'deep distress'

By Jessica Elgot, January 13, 2011

The disgraced former Israeli president Moshe Katzav is in "very bad shape", according to his lawyers.

Tel Aviv District Court announced that the pre-sentencing hearing for Katzav, 65, would take place on February 22. Last month, a Tel Aviv court found the former president guilty of two counts of rape and other serious sexual offences.

Katzav could face around 16 years in prison but the final sentence will not be decided until late February or early March according to one of his defence lawyers, Zion Amir.


Tycoon property war erupts in Jerusalem

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 13, 2011

Jewish, Israeli and Palestinian millionaires are trying to go beyond politics and decide the future of east Jerusalem using their money and business acumen to wage real-estate battles against each other.

This week the demolition of the Shepherd's Hotel in Sheikh Jarrah, owned by the settlers' patron, American millionaire Irwin Moskowitz, made headlines around the world.

But another tug-of-war has been fought behind the scenes over a planned Jewish neighbourhood in east Jerusalem.


NGO probe plan stirs up storm in Israel

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 13, 2011

The Knesset vote in favour of a parliamentary commission of enquiry into the foreign sources of finance for Israeli human-rights groups has caused a political storm, not only between the right and left but also within the ruling Likud party.


Netanyahu: paid less than David Cameron

By Jennifer Lipman, January 11, 2011

Benjamin Netanyahu is paid less than both David Cameron and footballer Yossi Benayoun.

The Israeli Prime Minister revealed his monthly salary of 15,027 shekels (£2,700) by posting his pay slip on his Facebook page.

Personal information was blurred on the slip, but the document suggests that Mr Netanyahu makes more than £90,000 a year.

Writing in Hebrew, Arab and English, Mr Netanyahu told his 3,750 Facebook fans that he had posted the document online “to provide total transparency concerning my monthly pay slip”.