Israel news

Israel joins group of world's richest countries

By Jessica Elgot, May 10, 2010

The group of the world’s richest nations, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, has accepted Israel as a member.

Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said the move was “historic”.

He added: “It gives legitimacy to Israel as an advanced and developed country.”

But Israel’s trade minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer accused the Palestinian Authority of trying to derail the bid. The PA had written to the OECD urging them to delay the vote on whether to accept Israel.


Volcano ash cloud drifts to Israel

By Jessica Elgot, May 10, 2010

The volcanic ash cloud which stranded thousands of European passengers last month when flights were cancelled, is heading for Israel.

Israel’s Ministry of Transport is preparing to cancel flights in and out of the country, Ynet reported.
Previously, it had been thought that the ash cloud from the Iclandic volcano would not reach the Middle East until later this week.

Last month hundreds of European airports closed for nearly a week, leaving airlines with huge backlogs of passengers.


On the West Bank, good wine is flowing

By Nathan Jeffay, May 6, 2010

Good wine is usually considered the result of fermentation techniques or terroirs. Biblical law rarely comes into it.

But in Israeli wine contests, a new generation of ultra-ideological religious-Zionist winemakers is enjoying considerable success - which they are crediting to their observance of Shmittah, the agricultural sabbatical year, when they leave vineyards untended.


Olmert faces charges over government jobs

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 6, 2010

State Prosecutors are planning yet another indictment of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Mr Olmert, along with one of his closes aides, will be charged with making dozens of illegal political appointments in government agencies.

He is currently on trial on three charges of fraud and acceptance of illegal payments and is expected to be questioned in the "Holyland" case of alleged bribery for building permits.

He is the main suspect in that case.


Analysis: Left's new tactic: attack Charedim

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 6, 2010

New data on the low share of the Charedi community in the Israeli workforce has re-ignited the rift in secular-ultra-Orthodox relations. And while elections are not expected to take place for at least three years, it is already clear that a number of parties will be eager to campaign on this issue.


'Proximity talks' stall before they begin

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 6, 2010

The Israeli government is concerned that the Palestinian Authority is trying to blame it for the failure of the "proximity talks" before they have even started.

The indirect talks between Israel and the Palestinians were scheduled to begin on Wednesday but despite the arrival in the region of American mediator George Mitchell, the Palestinian Authority had still not agreed to attend the talks at press time.


Hamas official's daughter treated in Israel

By Jessica Elgot, May 6, 2010

The daughter of a senior Hamas official in Gaza has been treated for a heart condition by Israeli surgeons in Ashkelon, as she was too sick to travel to Jordan.

The girl, aged 3, who is the daughter of Hams Interior Minister Elham Fathi Hammed had previously been treated unsuccessfully in Gaza.

Jordan’s King Abdullah is believed to have personally requested the Israeli authorities to allow the girl to be transported through Israel for surgery in Jordan.


Teenage girl suspected of synagogue arson

By Jessica Elgot, May 4, 2010

A teenage girl has been arrested for a suspected arson attack on a Jerusalem synagogue, which she claims was revenge for harassment by her Charedi neighbours.

The girl, who has not been named, is suspected of setting fire near the Ark at the Heichal Shlomo synagogue on Pnim Meirot Street, during Lag B’Omer.

She will be held in custody for police questioning until this evening.

Police said that the girl is believed to have carried a lighter into the synagogue and set fire to the cantor’s platform and the screen in front of the Ark.


Mitchell arrives in Israel to start peace talks

By Jessica Elgot, May 4, 2010

US Special envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell has arrived in Israel ready to start new indirect peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

Israeli media have reported that the talks are gearing up to start as soon as Wednesday.

But the Palestinian Authority has refused to participate in the talks until it has the backing of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, which will not meet until Sunday.

Talks, mediated by Mr Mitchell, were agreed last month but the PA cancelled after an Israeli announcement that new homes had been approved in Ramat Shlomo, east Jerusalem.


Netanyahu gets away with Jerusalem policy

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 29, 2010

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu believes he has turned a corner in his difficult relationship with the American administration and that peace talks are now possible without a commitment to freeze building in east Jerusalem.