Israel news

Palestinian support for Hamas sliding, poll shows

By Jessica Elgot and Reuters, June 29, 2009

Support for Hamas has dropped by almost ten per cent, an opinion poll has shown.

The survey of 1,199 people, by the Jerusalem Media and Communications Centre (JMCC), put public support for Hamas in the West Bank and Gaza Strip at 18.8 per cent, compared with 27.7 per cent in its previous poll in January.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction is now more popular than Hamas with a 34.9 per cent rating, up from 26 percent in January, indicating the group could take the next election in Gaza.

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Israel approves 50 new settler homes in West Bank

By Jessica Elgot, June 29, 2009

Israel plans to build 50 new West Bank homes in an existing settlement to absorb residents evicted from the illegal outpost of Migron, five kilometres north of Jerusalem.

The State Prosecutor's Office in Israel told the High Court on Friday that 190 housing units will be built in the settlement of Adam, approved by the Defence Ministry in May.

However, only 50 of the units can be erected without further approval from the ministry and the building approval does not include permission for any public buildings and roads.

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Gazans are trapped ‘in despair’- Red Cross

By Jessica Elgot, June 29, 2009

The Red Cross has released a report today on the effects of the two-year Israeli blockade of the Gaza strip, which it says has trapped 1.5 million Gaza residents ‘in despair.’

The humanitarian organisation said the blockade, which has been in place since Hamas took control of Gaza two years ago, was ‘strangling’ the local economy and that local people were unable to rebuild their homes and their lives six months after the Israeli offensive in Gaza.

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Mixed forecast from the Governor

By Candice Krieger, June 25, 2009

Sausages and the budget are pretty much the same, says Stanley Fischer, Governor of the Bank of Israel: “You do not want to know how they are made.”

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Strong shekel brings more pain than gain

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 25, 2009

Shmulik is sitting behind a 3in-thick glass window in a small flat in Meah Shearim that has been divided by a concrete wall and a steel door. This is one of half a dozen “black banks” that are the economic pipeline of Jerusalem’s Charedi community. He looks out at the empty room.

“Business is slow,” he says.

Not that long ago, the bank was packed at all hours, mainly with local residents selling dollars or cheques.

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Torture expert claims Israeli doctors were ‘complicit’

By James Martin, June 25, 2009

Israel’s secret services are operating in a “black hole” which allows torture to go unchecked, according to a leading expert on torture in Israel.

Dr Ishai Menuchin, executive director of the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI), says his organisation has recorded 600 complaints about treatment received during General Security Service interrogations since 2001.

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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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