Israel news

UN chief says Israel’s Gaza policies fuel radicalism

By Simon Rocker, March 26, 2009

Israeli policies in Gaza have proved counterproductive and are only fuelling more radicalism, according to the head of the United Nations agency responsible for Palestinian refugees there.

John Ging, director of operations for UNRWA (the UN Relief and Works Agency), met Foreign Secretary David Miliband and Foreign Office officials in London on Monday on the way to Washington to brief officials of the Obama administration.

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Israelis debate morality of Gaza

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 26, 2009

The publication of the experiences of young soldiers from Operation Cast Lead has kicked off a public debate in Israel over the morality of the army’s conduct in Gaza.

The stories of the soldiers, alumni of the Oranim pre-military academy, were published last week in Haaretz and Maariv. They described several IDF units as acting in a trigger-happy army that operated with scant regard for Palestinian civilians.

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Netanyahu pact splits Likud

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 26, 2009

The only obstacle still standing in the way of Binyamin Netanyahu forming a government next week is a possible revolt within his own party.

Likud members are angry with Mr Netanyahu for allocating most of the senior cabinet positions to the other parties in his coalition. “We are going to give him a rough ride when he presents the coalition agreements to the Likud Central Committee next week,” said one disgruntled MK. “Netanyahu has given everything away to the coalition partners and Likud, the ruling party, has to make do with leftovers.”

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Murders prompt new terror fears

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 19, 2009

The murder of two policemen in the West Bank last week has raised fears of a new terror offensive.

David Rabinovich, 42, and Yehezkel Ramzarker, 50, two veteran traffic policemen, were ambushed near Moshav Massua by gunmen posing as motorists.

Both officers were shot at point-blank range when they stopped to investigate a broken-down car. A previously unknown group, Imad Mughniye Brigade, claimed responsibility for the attack, but Israeli intelligence sources are dubious about the claim.

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Olmert blames Shalit’s parents

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 19, 2009

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has blamed the intensive media campaign for the release of Gilad Shalit for the breakdown of the talks over a possible prisoner deal — and told his family that they may have harmed his cause.

This week the Israeli government announced that it had refused Hamas demands for the release of 450 senior terrorists, many of them jailed for life for murder.

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Report raises hopes of possible Shalit deal

March 13, 2009

The end of the ordeal of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit may be moving closer - but at a very slow pace.

A newspaper report in Israel has claimed that it had agreed a deal that would free 450 Hamas prisoners in exchange for Mr Shalit.

However, according to the report in Haaretz, there were still areas where the two sides were a long way apart.

Quoting Palestinian sources in Cairo, the newspaper said that Israel wanted some of the prisoners to be deported abroad or to Gaza rather than returned home to the West Bank.

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Rabbis to heal rift with Pope

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 12, 2009

A visit to Rome by members of the Israeli Chief Rabbinate this weekend is intended to heal the rift between the Vatican and the Jewish world.

The eighth annual meeting of the Bilateral Commission of the Vatican and the Chief Rabbinate had been cancelled by the Israelis after Pope Benedict XVI lifted the excommunication of a group of renegade bishops, including Richard Williamson, a Holocaust denier.

Jewish organisations have accused the Vatican establishment and the Pope himself of turning a blind eye to Bishop Williamson’s statements.

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Katzav faces rape charge

March 12, 2009

Moshe Katzav, the former Israeli president, is to be charged with rape. Mr Katzav, 63, allegedly raped a female official in the late nineties while he was minister of tourism. He will be indicted on several counts of sexual misconduct.

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Gay couple allowed to adopt

March 12, 2009

A same-sex male couple have been granted the legal right to adopt for the first time in Israel.

Former MK Uzi Even and his life partner Amit Kama were permitted to adopt Yossi Even-Kama, 14 years after they took him in. Mr Kama described the decision as “legitimising our daily lives, our feelings and our emotions”. The couple applied for adoption because Tel Aviv University refused to grant Yossi Even-Kama a tuition discount reserved for families of faculty members, where Mr Even is a professor of chemistry.

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Northern Israel in economic crisis

By Ben Lynfield, March 12, 2009

Despite hopes that Israel would escape relatively unscathed from the global economic slump, the crisis is now hitting home with factory closures, hundreds of layoffs and outbreaks of worker unrest across the north of the country.

At the Of Haemek slaughterhouse and packing plant in the northern Israeli town of Ramat Yishai, 200 employees learned on Sunday that the factory had staggering debts and was to close.

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