Israel news

Israel tourist boom biggest for 60 years

By Anthea Gerrie, November 13, 2008

Israel has enjoyed unprecedented tourism success this year, with a staggering three million international arrivals.

The figure, the highest in the 60 years since independence, presages a lucrative new source of prosperity for a country which saw foreign tourism dwindle to a near-standstill during the intifada.

Low-cost flights, the return of cruise ships to Haifa and what Rafi Shalev, new director of tourism in UK and Ireland for the Israel Government Tourist Office, calls the "football factor" have all been leading reasons.

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New mayor boosts secular Jerusalem

By Ben Lynfield, November 13, 2008

Newly elected Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat has vowed to serve all sectors of the city's population after a campaign that brought to the fore deep divisions between the secular and the strictly-Orthodox community.

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Barak faces challenge from former allies

By Michal Levertov, November 12, 2008

Former Labour leaders and high-profile figures including authors Amos Oz and David Grossman are to launch a new movement to run jointly with Meretz in February's elections.

Their aim is to win 10-12 seats in the next Knesset and replace Labour as Israel's largest left-wing political camp.

Leading figures in the new grouping, to be announced today (Friday) include former Labour ministers Uzi Baram and Shlomo Ben-Ami, and former Knesset speaker Avraham Burg.

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Livni fears UK-led push to boycott settlement goods

By Anshel Pfeffer, November 6, 2008

The Israeli and British governments have clashed over imports from West Bank settlements, with Jerusalem concerned this may be the first salvo in a British-led international campaign.

The issue has been personally pursued by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who, according to an internal document "has proposed a round-table involving UK government officials, NGOs, and retailers" to discuss it.

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Shin Bet fears settlers may turn to arms

By Ben Lynfield, November 6, 2008

Amid growing tensions with radical settlers, the head of the Shin Bet security service has warned that extremists can be expected to engage in armed attacks against the IDF in the event of peace moves with the Palestinians.

Yuval Diskin did not explicitly say that he expected attempts at political assassination in the event of a push for removal of settlements and outposts in the West Bank.

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National race gets fresh faces

By Anshel Pfeffer, November 6, 2008

A raft of political newcomers and veterans have already entered the fray of Israel's election season.

This week's most prominent debut was of Benny Begin, the son of the late Prime Minister Menachem Begin, who will return to the Likud almost a decade after leaving in protest at Binyamin Netanyahu's acceptance of the Oslo Accords. Another recruit to Likud was Brigadier-General (Res) Miri Regev, the former IDF spokeswoman.

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Record number of women standing to become mayors

By Simon Griver, November 6, 2008

A record number of women are to stand in next week's municipal elections all over Israel.

There will be 40 women standing for mayor, or head of local councils, in the elections, representing a 40 per cent increase over the 2003 elections.

Female representation in this political sector is lower than in the Knesset, where 14 per cent of members are women. There are 245 municipalities and councils in Israel but there have only ever been 10 female mayors.

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Communist a hot ticket in Tel Aviv polls

By Michal Levertov, November 6, 2008

An unlikely candidate has emerged as a viable contender in the race to be the next Tel Aviv mayor - and turned a sleepy campaign into an ideological struggle over the city's future.

Dov Khenin, an MK for the non-Zionist Hadash [Communist party], is predicted to win nearly a quarter of the votes when the city goes to the polls on November 11, and may face a run-off against the incumbent Ron Huldai.

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Israel welcomes Obama win

By Daniella Peled, November 5, 2008

The historic election of Democrat Barack Obama as US President has been warmly welcomed by Israeli and Palestinian leaders alike.

Foreign Minister and Kadima leader Tzipi Livni said that the election as the first-ever African-American president was "a mark of merit for American democracy".

She added: "During Barack Obama's recent visit to Israel, and especially during the tour we conducted together in the city of Sderot, the people of Israel were impressed by his commitment to the peace and security of Israel."

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Hamas pledges truce as Kassams hit Ashkelon

November 5, 2008

Palestinians have fired 35 Kassam rockets into Israel today from the Gaza Strip, in the worst outbreak of violence since June's ceasefire.

Hamas have claimed responsibility for the rockets but have vowed to maintain the five-month truce with Israel.

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