Israel news

MK calls British 'dogs' over Dubai passport row

By Jessica Elgot, March 23, 2010

A Knesset member has compared the British to “dogs” and claimed the UK government has no right to judge Israel.

MK Arieh Eldad, a member of the extreme right-wing National Union party, was expressing his anger over Britain’s apparent decision to expel an Israeli diplomat after an investigation by the Serious Organised Crime Agency into the forging of British passports.

The passports were used by a hit squad which killed a Hamas terrorist in Dubai.


Israel fur ban dropped

By Jessica Elgot, March 19, 2010

The Knesset may scrap a bill which had the backing of Sir Paul McCartney, to forbid the manufacture, import and export of all kinds of furs.

MK Zevulun Orlev, who chaired a coalition committee discussion on the bill, said pressure from the Charedi community, from MK Menachem Eliezer Moses and from the Shas Party had led to the bill being temporarily shelved.
Mr Orlev said: “I have no interest in offending the Charedi public”.


Quartet: Settlement freeze and Palestinian state in 'two years'

By Jessica Elgot, March 19, 2010

The Middle East Quartet peace mediators have called on Israel to freeze all settlement activity and say their aim is to create a Palestinian state within two years.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, who led the meeting with representatives from the US, the European Union and Russia, was the latest to condemn Israel’s plan to build 1,600 homes in Ramat Shlomo, east Jerusalem.


Stanley Fischer second term at Bank of Israel

By Simon Griver, March 18, 2010

Professor Stanley Fischer has agreed to serve a second five-year term as Governor of the Bank of Israel, providing a potentially enormous boost for the Israeli economy.

Such is his international eminence that when he accepted the offer to become head of the Bank of Israel in 2005, it was likened to Michael Jordan agreeing to play basketball for Maccabi Tel Aviv.


Ashkenazim-only school 'illegal'

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 18, 2010

The Israeli Education Ministry has stepped up its campaign against schools that segregate Ashkenazi and Sephardi pupils.

This week, the ministry ordered the closure of a school that had been set up three months ago to cater for 74 Ashkenazi girls in the strictly Orthodox town of Emanuel in the West Bank.

Their parents had taken them out of the local Beit Yaakov girls' school after the Supreme Court ruled that the separate classes in the school for Ashkenazi and Sephardi girls were illegal.


Israel's Defence prepares for future attacks

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 18, 2010

The Israeli defence establishment is beefing up its preparations for extensive missile attacks on its towns and military bases in case of war.

At a special meeting chaired by the Prime Minister, the chiefs of the military and emergency services presented the latest civil defence readiness plans.

The exact details of the threat assessments are classified but it is expected that in a war between Israel and its neighbours to the north, Syria and Hizbollah in Lebanon, hundreds, perhaps thousands of missiles would rain down on the north and the Tel Aviv area.


Knesset yes to civil marriage

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 18, 2010

The Knesset has authorised civil marriage in Israel for the first time.

The law will allow for only a very limited form of civil marriage, specifically for people whose religious identity is not determined.

The new law, introduced by MK David Rotem of Yisrael Beiteinu, will allow Israeli citizens whose religious status is unclear - usually due to the fact that the Rabbinate does not recognise them as Jews - to marry through a new civil registrar's office.


Charity gives £76m in zero interest loans

By Nathan Jeffay, March 18, 2010

Listeners to Israeli radio stations have been surprised over the last four weeks to hear adverts for interest-free loans - a particularly unlikely scenario given the global economic crisis.

These slots are part of what is thought to be the first major advertising campaign by a charity seeking recipients, rather than donors.

The Israel Free Loan Association (IFLA) is trying to ensure that as Israeli banks tighten their lending criteria - like financial institutions across the world - low earners are not falling into a poverty trap because they are unable to borrow.


World's top rabbi celebrates 100th

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 18, 2010

He has never flown in a plane or used a computer, but thanks to the advances in transport and communications that have taken place during the course of his lifetime, Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, who turned 100 this week, is the most influential rabbi in the world.


Judaica collector bought fake menorah

By Marcus Dysch, March 18, 2010

A British antiques collector bought an 18th century silver menorah only to find it had been "Judaised" with candleholders added 200 years later.

Jerusalem-based Martin Stern, who has worked as a restitution campaigner, found the candlestick at a Tel Aviv auction firm.

The piece is thought to have cost thousands of dollars. Mr Stern had intended to donate it to the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, but curators declined his offer after discovering the "menorah" was not a real piece of Judaica.