Israel news

Analysis: Counter-espionage hard in a free society

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 13, 2010

In the wake of the arrests of Amir Mahoul and Omar Said, Israeli Arabs have accused the government and the security services of political persecution.

The State Prosecutor's Office will indeed have to work hard to prove that the arrests and the attendant secrecy was warranted. If the two are released without indictment, it will be a major embarrassment for the entire justice system. But there is a significant degree of disingenuousness in these accusations.


Analysis: No point to Israel-Palestine proximity talks

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 13, 2010

In a week's time, American negotiator George Mitchell will return to Jerusalem, meet Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for a couple of hours, and then hop into his car for the short drive to Ramallah and a meeting of similar length with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Everything will be as it has been so many times over the last year, with one difference: this time the meetings will be called "proximity talks".


Israeli-Arab leaders arrested as spies

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 13, 2010

Two senior Arab-Israeli activists have been arrested on charges of espionage and contacts with Hizbollah.

Their arrests, which took place over the past three weeks, were the subject of a gag-order until it was partially lifted on Monday.

Amir Mahoul, 52, of Haifa and Omar Said, 50, of Kfar Kana are currently being questioned by the General Security Service (the Shabak) and the police's International Investigations Unit.

The two were arrested on charges of serious espionage and contact with a foreign agent who was, according to the Shabak, a member of Hizbollah.


Israelis celebrate Jerusalem Day

By Jessica Elgot, May 12, 2010

Israelis have celebrated Jerusalem Day, marking 43 years since the unification of Jerusalem in 1967, when east Jerusalem was captured from the Jordanians.

Thousands of police have been mobilised in Jerusalem, as Jewish nationalists prepared a celebratory march across the city. Tensions were high in the east of the city as most Palestinians still view the area as a future capital of an independent Palestine.

An open air concert was held to celebrate the day, with American band, Kool and the Gang, performing.


Egypt and Syria "boycott" Lieberman

By Jessica Elgot, May 11, 2010

Israel’s Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, plans to attend a Mediterranean leaders’ conference despite threats from Egypt and Syria that they will boycott it in protest at his presence.

The conference, due to take place in Barcelona next month, is being held by the Union for the Mediterranean, an EU-sponsored initiative to promote good relations among Mediterranean countries.

Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is also scheduled to attend the event, which is to be co-chaired by France and Egypt.


Israel joins group of world's richest countries

By Jessica Elgot, May 10, 2010

The group of the world’s richest nations, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, has accepted Israel as a member.

Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said the move was “historic”.

He added: “It gives legitimacy to Israel as an advanced and developed country.”

But Israel’s trade minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer accused the Palestinian Authority of trying to derail the bid. The PA had written to the OECD urging them to delay the vote on whether to accept Israel.


Volcano ash cloud drifts to Israel

By Jessica Elgot, May 10, 2010

The volcanic ash cloud which stranded thousands of European passengers last month when flights were cancelled, is heading for Israel.

Israel’s Ministry of Transport is preparing to cancel flights in and out of the country, Ynet reported.
Previously, it had been thought that the ash cloud from the Iclandic volcano would not reach the Middle East until later this week.

Last month hundreds of European airports closed for nearly a week, leaving airlines with huge backlogs of passengers.


On the West Bank, good wine is flowing

By Nathan Jeffay, May 6, 2010

Good wine is usually considered the result of fermentation techniques or terroirs. Biblical law rarely comes into it.

But in Israeli wine contests, a new generation of ultra-ideological religious-Zionist winemakers is enjoying considerable success - which they are crediting to their observance of Shmittah, the agricultural sabbatical year, when they leave vineyards untended.


Olmert faces charges over government jobs

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 6, 2010

State Prosecutors are planning yet another indictment of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Mr Olmert, along with one of his closes aides, will be charged with making dozens of illegal political appointments in government agencies.

He is currently on trial on three charges of fraud and acceptance of illegal payments and is expected to be questioned in the "Holyland" case of alleged bribery for building permits.

He is the main suspect in that case.


Analysis: Left's new tactic: attack Charedim

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 6, 2010

New data on the low share of the Charedi community in the Israeli workforce has re-ignited the rift in secular-ultra-Orthodox relations. And while elections are not expected to take place for at least three years, it is already clear that a number of parties will be eager to campaign on this issue.