Israel news

Changes to Fatah boost pragmatists

By Ben Lynfield, Bethlehem, August 13, 2009

The election of new blood to the Fatah movement’s top ranks has brought hope that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will gain ground against political rivals Hamas.

“Those Israelis who really want a peace process that will last should be happy with the congress. Those like Netanyahu who want everything and to give up nothing should be unhappy,” said Nabil Shaath, a veteran peace negotiator and one of the few members of the movement’s old guard re-elected to Fatah’s central committee.


Mermaid makes a splash in Israeli town

By Jessica Elgot, August 12, 2009

A mermaid is whipping up a storm in an Israeli seaside town, after dozens of people claim to have caught sight of the mythical creature.

Now Kiryat Yam town council, near Haifa, is offering $1million reward to anyone who can prove the existence of the mermaid.

The elusive mermaid, who only surfaces at twilight, has drawn crowds of tourists with their cameras.

"Many people are telling us they are sure they've seen a mermaid and they are all independent of each other," council spokesman Natti Zilberman told Sky News.


How racism defeated the ‘X-ray rabbi’

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 6, 2009

He faced down Israel’s most famous family of mystics, became the undisputed leader of Israeli kabbalah, transformed himself into a household name and became the close confidant of tycoons and celebrities.

But now it seems that Rabbi Yaakov Ifergan has finally come up against one immovable barrier — the strictly Orthodox Ashkenazi establishment which is forcing the Sephardi star out of his home town of Netivot.


Analysis: Lieberman's last cabinet meeting?

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 6, 2009

Yisrael Beiteinu may have 15 Knesset members, as well as several ministries and parliamentary committees, but is still essentially a one-man party.

Avigdor Lieberman handpicked the candidates, decided which spot they would receive on the list and who would become a minister.

But now, he is learning the limitations of his power.

After an investigation which seemed never ending, the police this week recommended pressing charges against Israel’s foreign minister for allegedly money laundering over NIS 10 million (£1.5 million).


Gay rabbi talks of Tel Aviv shooting heartbreak

By Keren David, August 6, 2009

When Hillel Athias-Robles was a teenager, he would stand for a long time in the street outside the Aguda gay youth centre in Tel Aviv, scared that someone would see him go inside.

As a Charedi yeshivah student, he was terrified of being spotted by someone he knew. But it was worth the risk.

“I knew I’d found a refuge where I could be myself,” he recalled this week, in the wake of the gun attack on the centre.


Police: Don't call Tel Aviv shooting a hate crime yet

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 6, 2009

Tel Aviv police are investigating additional motives for the attack on a gay youth club on Saturday night, rather than labelling it a simple “hate crime”.

The shooting spree, which resulted in the deaths of 17-year-old Liz Trubeshi and 26-year-old Nir Katz, and the wounding of 11 others, was initially interpreted by the media and politicians as an attack against the gay and lesbian community.

The unidentified shooter was portrayed by the press as someone who hated homosexuals for religious or racist reasons.


In east Jerusalem, an Arab PR coup

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 6, 2009

Two Palestinian families sitting on street corners in east Jerusalem in the sweltering August heat are at the centre of a media and diplomatic storm this week. The eviction from the homes they have lived in for 53 years has delivered the Palestinian cause a major PR coup.


Hizbollah: 40,000 rockets on Israel border

By Jessica Elgot, August 5, 2009

Hizbollah is training its militia to be able to hit Tel Aviv with long-range missiles, and has stockpiled 40,000 rockets on the border, a report by The Times claimed.

A Hezbollah warehouses which stored Katyusha rockets in southern Lebanon exploded last month, revealing the group was stockpiling rockets in the region, in violation of the UN Security Council Resolution 1701.

UN peacekeeping forces have been blocked from entering the site to investigation the claims.


Barak: We should accept US peace plan

By Jessica Elgot, August 4, 2009

Israel’s Defence Minister, Ehud Barak, has said he expects a new peace proposal from the US administration to arrive in the next few weeks, which he believes Israel should accept.

Mr Barak announced his intention of accepting the proposal at a meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee.


Charedi mother to be charged

By Jessica Elgot, August 4, 2009

The mother accused of starving her three-year-old son in the row which sparked the Jerusalem Charedi riots is to be charged with abuse.

Jerusalem State Prosecutor Moshe Lador is said to have been briefed on the case at the weekend and several counts are to be filed with the Jerusalem District Court after a psychiatric evaluation found that she was fit to stand trial.

The strictly Orthodox mother, who has been under house arrest for the past week, has not been allowed to see her son, who was recently released from hospital, but has been in contact with her other children.