Israel news

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.


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.


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.


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."


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.


Shin Bet chief fears settlers may turn to violence

By Ben Lynfield, November 4, 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.


Olmert faces fresh allegation

By Anshel Pfeffer, October 30, 2008

A new allegation of corruption was raised this week against Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

David Cohen, one of the central witnesses in the case against former Finance Minister Avraham Hirschson - accused of stealing NIS 4 million (£680,000) from two public organisations - told a Tel Aviv courtroom that he had passed a "fat envelope" to Mr Olmert in the early 1990s when he was health minister.


Swedish firm to quit West Bank

By Michal Levertov, October 30, 2008

A Swedish company has apologised for setting up a factory in a settlement-based industrial zone and announced it will move it within Israel.


Settlers turn against their state

By Ben Lynfield, October 30, 2008

The Intensifying enmity of far-right settlers towards the state erupted into violence this week after soldiers destroyed two illegal structures in Kiryat Arba, near Hebron.

In response, settlers vandalised Palestinian cars, desecrated a Muslim graveyard and gave incendiary radio interviews. Shmuel Ben-Ishai, a Hebron settler, told Army Radio: "We hope they [the soldiers] will be smitten by their enemies, that all of them will be like Gilad Shalit [the soldier held by Hamas] and that they will all be slaughtered."


Gap closing in race for Jerusalem mayor

By Simon Griver, October 30, 2008

As the campaign for Jerusalem mayor approaches the November 11 election date, strictly Orthodox candidate Rabbi Meir Porush appears to be closing the gap on secular frontrunner Nir Barkat.

In a poll published by the Dahaf Institute, Rabbi Porush, a United Torah Judaism MK, won 36 per cent of the vote compared to 48 per cent for Mr Barkat's independent Jerusalem Will Succeed party.

Russian-Israeli billionaire Arkady Gaydamak polled 6 per cent and Dan Biron of the Green Leaf party, which wants to legalise marijuana, failed to reach even 1 per cent.