Israel news

Outrage in Knesset as Olmert avoids early poll

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 27, 2008

A last-minute deal between Kadima and Labour in the early hours of Wednesday staved off — for now — the threat of early elections in Israel, but may have hastened the political demise of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who committed his party to leadership primaries in three months.

The Knesset was to vote on a motion by Likud MK Silvan Shalom for bringing the elections forward two years to this November. Kadima’s two main coalition partners, Labour and Shas, announced at the beginning of the week that they were planning to support the motion.

More..

Hamas prisoner swap ‘on course’

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 27, 2008

The negotiations over the release of captured Israeli soldier First-Sergeant Gilad Shalit are expected to intensify this week in Cairo, a week into the fragile ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

The ceasefire, which began last Thursday morning, has not been without its hiccups. Though both sides observed their commitments not to launch attacks on and from the Gaza Strip, Hamas did not prevent the Islamic Jihad movement from firing three rockets at Israel on Tuesday, in retaliation to one of its senior members being killed by the IDF near Nablus in the West Bank.

More..

All hugs and no policy on Sarko’s Israel tour

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 27, 2008

“Anyone trying to destroy Israel will find France blocking the way,” French President Nicolas Sarkozy declared at a special session of the Knesset this week, during his three-day state visit to Israel. Mr Sarkozy’s visit was heavy on gestures, though rather light on political substance.

More..

Olmert talks tough as Gaza ceasefire begins

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 20, 2008

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has made clear he would not shrink from a military response if Hamas violated the Egypt-brokered ceasefire with Israel due to begin at 6am yesterday (Thursday).

More..

Fans flock to Tel Aviv — but where in the world is Wayne?

By Simon Griver, June 20, 2008

Dozens of paparazzi, reporters and soccer fans waited for several hours at Ben-Gurion Airport on Monday night to welcome Wayne Rooney and his new wife Coleen.

The couple, who were married last week in Portofino, Italy, were said to have been flying to Israel for a post-wedding stag night for Rooney at the Apartment 98 Club in Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Street.

More..

Prisoner swap close as families cling to hope

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 20, 2008

A prisoner deal between Israel and Hizbollah is a “matter of days” away, according to Israeli officials, as the families of the captured israeli soldiers cling to hope they might still be alive.

In the deal, Israel will transfer to Lebanon convicted murderer Samir Kuntar and four Hizbollah members. Israel will receive its two soldiers, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, who were captured two years ago. The unofficial assumption in Israel is that the soldiers are dead.

More..

State and religion clash on converts

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 20, 2008

In an unprecedented clash between state and religion, Justice Minister Daniel Friedman announced this week that he will act to fire the Dayan (rabbinical judge) who ruled that all the conversions made over the last nine years by the special conversion courts were null and void.

The ruling has caused chaos in the already unsteady conversion process in Israel.

More..

Olmert agrees to Kadima primaries

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 13, 2008

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert caved into pressure on Wednesday and agreed to his Kadima party preparing for leadership primaries at the soonest possible date.

Mr Olmert had tried in the preceding days to persuade his colleagues to wait, but the threats by coalition partners that they would support a Knesset motion for early elections forced his hand.

On Wednesday, Mr Olmert met MK Tzachi Hanegbi, the chairman of Kadima’s Party Affairs Committee, and the head of the party’s Knesset faction MK Eli Aflalo.

More..

Kibbutz admits Arab as member

By Simon Griver, June 13, 2008

A kibbutz has accepted an Arab citizen’s request to become a member for what is claimed to be the first time.

Amal Karmia, a divorcee from the Arab town of Kalanswa, north-east of Tel Aviv, officially became a member of Kibbutz Nir Eliahu, near Kfar Saba, where she lives with her teenage daughter Aya and son Adam.

More..

No Gaza incursion — for now

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 13, 2008

A further round of bloodshed in Israel and the Gaza Strip and stalled  ceasefire talks has not given the Israeli leadership a renewed appetite for a large-scale military incursion into Gaza.

Amnon Rosenberg, a 51-year-old worker at a paint factory at Kibbutz Nir Oz, was killed in a mortar attack last Thursday morning and five others wounded. Hamas took responsibility for the attack. In retaliation, the Israeli Air Force attacked a Hamas position in Beit Lahiya.

More..