Israel news

Row over Sharansky’s Jewish Agency role

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 25, 2009

Former Prisoner of Zion Nathan Sharansky was expected to be voted chair of the Jewish Agency on Thursday, after an unprecedented row between the Israeli government and American Jewish organisations nearly scuttled his appointment.

Mr Sharansky was PM Netanyahu’s candidate and, in the past, would have been automatically voted in.

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PM’s office in chaos

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 18, 2009

After only two-and-a-half months in power, Binyamin Netanyahu’s office is already coming apart at the seams. Bitter arguments between senior officials, an inflation of special advisors and a lack of clarity over responsibilities all contribute to an atmosphere of chaos.

Nir Hefetz, a former executive on the Yediot Achronot daily, was appointed the new head of hasbarah in the Prime Minister’s Office last week.

Mr Hefetz is currently the fourth senior communications official in Mr Netanyahu’s team.

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At last, a kosher search engine

June 15, 2009

The strictly orthodox are now able to surf the Web like anyone else - thanks to a new Hebrew-language kosher search engine.

Those normally discouraged lest they find sexually explicit material are being encouraged to use Koogle, a search engine designed to omit anything objectionable.

It links primarily to Israeli news and shopping sites but filters the results, says its creator, Yossi Altman.

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I'll meet any Arab leader, anywhere

June 14, 2009

Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has called on Palestinian leaders to restart Middle East peace negotiations immediately and said he is prepared to go anywhere to meet Arab leaders.

In a highly anticipated foreign policy address at Bar Ilan University, he said: "I call on you, our Palestinian neighbours, and to the leadership of the Palestinian Authority: Let us begin peace negotiations immediately, without preconditions.

"Israel is committed to international agreements and expects all the other parties to fulfill their obligations as well," he said.

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Netanyahu banking on key talks

June 12, 2009

Binyamin Netanyahu does not think any of his coalition parties will leave if his diplomatic policies shifted left in Sunday's address.

Sources close to the prime minister told the Jerusalem Post that the Right have “learned lessons” from toppling right-wing governments in the past. This included Netanyahu's first administration, which led to left-wing governments entering negotiations with the Palestinians and Syria.

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Charedim divided over ‘kosher buses’

By Nathan Jeffay Tel Aviv, June 11, 2009

The government is expected to decide whether gender-segregated buses are acceptable by next week.

The prospect is scaring many in the Charedi community, who fear that the government will adopt the false assumption that all Charedim want segregated buses.

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Child porn confession

June 11, 2009

An Israeli fitness instructor has admitted making hundreds of indecent images of children.

Amir Gilboa, 36, of Finchley, north London, pleaded guilty at Wood Green Crown Court last Thursday to 14 charges of making pornographic pictures.

The final charge covered hundreds of offences relating to more than 670 images. When officers seized Gilboa’s computer, they found more than 200 images that they classed as “live” — in other words, the photographs had recently been opened from the hard drive.
Gilboa was bailed until June 29, when he will be sentenced.

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Orthodox, 60 - and a mum for the first time

June 10, 2009

A 60-year-old strictly Orthodox woman in Israel has become a mother for the first time.

After 40 years of fruitless fertility treatments, the woman and her husband, who live in the strictly Orthodox settlement of Kfar Chabad, have welcomed their firstborn son.

The woman told the Israeli newspaper Yediot Achronot on Wednesday: "I've waited for a baby for so long, I'm so happy."

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Dudu Topaz 'set up attacks on TV bosses’

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 4, 2009

One of Israel’s top television stars, Dudu Topaz, has confessed to organising a series of physical attacks on media executives who rejected his ideas for television programmes.

Mr Topaz apparently hired two former bouncers to assault Shira Margalit, vice president of Channel 2; Avi Nir, a Channel 2 director; and talent agent Boaz Ben-Zion in Tel Aviv over the past seven months. Ms Margalit was hospitalised with fractures in her face but the attacks were unexplained until Mr Topaz was arrested on Sunday.

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Tough love’ from Obama

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 4, 2009

The Israeli government is seeking ways to accommodate American demands to stop building in the settlements as some commentators warn of the worst period in US-Israel relations for over a decade.

As President Barack Obama headed for the Middle East and his address to the Muslim world in Cairo on Thursday, Israeli officials were concerned by a report that Mr Obama was considering abandoning the long-standing United States veto of United Nations resolutions against Israel.

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