Israel news

Likud names revealed

December 8, 2008

Likud chair Gideon Sa'ar has taken second place on the party's Knesset list after party chief Binyamin Netanyahu, followed by MK Gilad Erdan into third place in yesterday’s primaries.

Likud could now sweep the coming Knesset elections, according to recent polls. Those who secured high places on the list stand to gain senior government positions.

Netanyahu spoke after the 41 candidates were called to the stage, announcing, "Friends, today we chose a new leadership for Israel."

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Israel plans to extend Gaza Strip ceasefire

By Yaakov Katz, December 4, 2008

Despite a mortar attack that wounded eight Israeli soldiers last week and almost daily Kassam rocket fire from the Gaza Strip since then, Israel is hoping to extend the ceasefire with Hamas that is scheduled to expire later this month.

On December 19, the six-month truce with Hamas will officially expire. Defence officials said this week that the IDF assessment is that Hamas will want to extend the truce under which the crossings — which have been closed for most of the last month due to the rocket attacks — will be opened.

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Unilever to sell West Bank plant

By Michal Levertov, December 4, 2008

The multinational company, Unilever, is to sell its share in a food factory located in a West Bank settlement.

The Anglo-Dutch company, the manufacturer of 400 brands in 150 countries, intends to sell its 51 per cent stake in the Beigel & Beigel pretzel factory, based in the Barkan industrial zone near the settlement of Ariel.

In October, Swedish company Assa Abloy decided to move a locksmith plant from the same industrial zone following NGO reports warning that companies may be subject to law suits over the violation of international law if their factories are located in such areas.

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Olmert and Treasury in clash over pension plan

By Yaakov Katz, December 4, 2008

With two months left until the general election, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Finance Minister Roni Bar-On exchanged barbs this week over their different approaches to a pension safety net.

In a rare step, four of the top Finance Ministry officials wrote to the Prime Minister to accuse his office of acting illegally to sidestep the Treasury’s authority.

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Israel hopes to extend Gaza ceasefire

By Yaakov Katz, December 2, 2008

Despite a mortar attack that wounded eight Israeli soldiers last week and almost daily Kassam rocket fire from the Gaza Strip since, Israel is hoping to extend the ceasefire with Hamas that is scheduled to expire later this month.

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A simmering dispute set to bring the house down

By Yaakov Katz, November 27, 2008

Soldiers pose on the rooftop for pictures, young women with scarves covering their heads stuff laundry into washing machines lining the hallway, and teenage boys with large kippot and sidelocks sit in a room nearby listening attentively to a rabbi's sermon.

All this is happening in a settler-squatted four-story building in Hebron on a road that links the settlement of Kiryat Arba and the Cave of the Patriarchs.

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Mazuz plans to indict Olmert for corruption

By Yaakov Katz and Nathan Guttman, November 27, 2008

After a long and highly publicised police investigation, Israel's Attorney General Menahem Mazuz announced Wednesday night that he was planning to indict Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on corruption charges.

Mr Mazuz said that his final decision would be made pending a hearing for Mr Olmert and his lawyers, during which he will give the beleaguered prime minister an opportunity to present his defence. Such a hearing is typically offered to government officials prior to their indictment.

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Further violence feared as neo-Nazi gang is sentenced

By Yaakov Katz, November 27, 2008

Dozens of neo-Nazis may still be active in Israel, police officers warned this week, after a Tel Aviv court sent eight Jewish teenagers to prison for establishing an extremist cell and carrying out a series of xenophobic and antisemitic attacks across the country.

Members of the group, called the Petah Tikvah Gang, received sentences ranging between one and seven years. Judge Zvi Gurfinkel called the teenagers' crimes "shocking and horrifying" and said that his harsh sentences were aimed at deterring additional youth from joining such gangs in the future.

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Global recession hits growth in Israel

By Simon Griver, November 27, 2008

The Israeli government has announced a range of rescue measures as new data show the country's economy is beginning to feel the effects of the global recession.

Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer also sprang a surprise by cutting interest rates an additional 0.5 per cent to 2.5 per cent - the lowest level in Israel's history. Mr Fischer has now lowered interest rates by 1.75 per cent since the start of October.

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Pope to visit Israel

By Anshel Pfeffer, November 27, 2008

Pope Benedict XVI is to visit Israel next year at the invitation of President Shimon Peres, in an attempt to end the recent period of tension over the beatification of former Pope Pius XII.

The visit, which is yet to be formally announced, is set to take place in early May 2009.

President Peres officially invited the Pope a few weeks ago, following a meeting with Archbishop Antonio Franco, the papal nuncio in Jerusalem, who indicated that such an invitation would be positively received.

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