Israel news

Bibi to meet Barack Obama at White House

By Jennifer Lipman, June 21, 2010

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has arranged to meet President Barack Obama in Washington next month.

Following Israel’s announcement that it will ease the blockade of Gaza, the two leaders are to meet at the White House on July 6 to explore “additional steps” for the region.

A meeting had been scheduled for June 1 but was postponed in the wake of the clashes on the Gaza-bound flotilla.

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Gaza blockade to be eased quickly

By Jennifer Lipman, June 21, 2010

Israel has set out details of how the Gaza blockade will be eased to allow in increased building equipment and food.

Under the new plan, which Israel has said will be implemented “as quickly as possible” it is expected that all civilian goods will be permitted to go into the area unless they are specifically banned.

Food, domestic supplies and building materials for Palestinian Authority and United Nations approved construction will be allowed in, with only "problematic dual-use" that could be used as weapons or in manufacturing arms prohibited.

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Elton John: No-one will stop me playing in Israel

By Jessica Elgot, June 18, 2010

Elton John has performed a triumphantly successful concert to nearly 50,000 cheering fans in Ramat Gan, telling Israelis: “Nobody gonna stop me from playing here, baby”.

The country’s music fans have suffered several high profile cancellations, including bands such as the Pixies, Carlos Santana, Gorillaz, the Klaxons and, most recently, Elvis Costello.

Many of the acts cancelling their performances said they had been targeted by pro-Palestinian groups.
But Sir Elton John, who has played in Israel twice previously, told the audience: “We do not cherry-pick our consciences.”

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Gaza blockade eased but Hamas demand full lift

By Jessica Elgot, June 18, 2010

Israel’s announcement that it will ease the blockade of Gaza has been welcomed internationally but dismissed by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.

Israel has already announced that some construction material, like cement and steel, supervised by international groups, will now be allowed through the blockade.

A full list of the newly approved items has not been released but Israeli media has widely speculated that all food items, toys, stationery, kitchen utensils and mattresses will be allowed in to the Strip.

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Downsize me: Israel shuns fast food

By Nathan Jeffay, June 17, 2010

For two decades it has been flying the flag for American fast food in a sea of falafel shops and shwarma joints. But Burger King is to vanish from Israeli high streets this summer.

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Diplomat's bid to 're-brand' Israel

June 17, 2010

You might think it easier to run up Masada every day with a bag of rocks on your back than take on Ido Aharoni's mission: to improve Israel's public image.

For three years, the urbane diplomat has headed the Israeli foreign service's "brand management team", charged with encouraging people elsewhere to see the country in a more positive light.

But he has an upbeat message for those in the diaspora who want to aid his work. "Help us celebrate Israel's success."

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Gaza settlers were 'failed by the state'

By James Lewis, June 17, 2010

A new report into the fate of the settlers evacuated from Gaza has accused successive Israeli governments of "absolute and complete failure" in dealing with them.

The state commission inquiry showed that 70 per cent of the settlers, who were forced to leave their Gush Katif homes following the Gaza withdrawal in August 2005, have still not been found permanent homes.

A large majority of the 9,000 evacuees have not been properly compensated and are currently living in temporary dwellings.

The state made the evacuees "refugees in their own country", said the report.

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Soldier faces charges over Cast Lead

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 17, 2010

The IDF's Military Advocate General, Major General Avichai Mendelblit, will hold a hearing next week for a soldier suspected of double manslaughter in last year's Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.

The solider allegedly shot and killed two Palestinian women who were in a group of civilians holding white flags. This is the third and most serious case in which charges are being brought against soldiers involved in the operation.

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Syria: Gaza flotilla could mean war

By Jessica Elgot, June 17, 2010

Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad has said the attack on the Gaza flotilla activists could be a catalyst for more war in the Middle East.

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Assad said there was no chance of peace with Israel’s “pyromaniac government”.

He said: "When you don't have peace, you have to expect war every day, and this is very dangerous."

Mr Assad said the raid on the flotilla, in which nine Turkish activists died, "destroyed any chance for peace in the near future".

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Parents face jail over Jewish school segregation

By Jessica Elgot, June 17, 2010

Tens of thousands of strictly Orthodox Jews marched in Jerusalem today against the proposed integration of Ashkenazi and Mizrahi girls at a religious school.

Israel’s Supreme Court has ruled that Ashkenazi, Mizrahi and Sephardi children must be educated together, and dozens of parents of girls at a school in the West Bank settlement of Emanuel face up to two weeks in jail.

The parents of Ashkenazi children have demanded the other children are educated separately - claiming they do not believe them to be observant enough.

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