Israel news

Charedim attempt to block conversion law

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 11, 2010

A new law on conversion to Judaism could lead to a full-blown coalition crisis in Israel.

The law, presented by Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu, would allow each city's chief rabbi to perform conversions. The Charedi parties are threatening to leave Binyamin Netanyahu's government if the law is passed.


Analysis: Israel has been hurt by the failure of its Left

By Uri Dromi, March 11, 2010

In case you had not noticed, the Left in Israel hardly exists. Meretz, the socialist party which had mustered 12 Knesset seats in 1992, won only three miserable seats in the last elections. Labour, which had led the Zionist movement, built the land and established the State of Israel, was decimated as well, moving from 44 MKs in the mid-1980s to a mere dozen today, with some leaving the party in disgust, never to look back again.


Teens 'addicted to air conditioner gas'

By Nathan Jeffay, March 11, 2010

A 16-year-old boy plunged to his death from the roof of a Netanya school on Saturday, drawing attention to a normally ignored problem among Israeli teenagers.

Police say that the boy, Sisai Astan, had been on the roof of Rashi School inhaling gas from air conditioning units along with three other boys.

"They were up there to inhale air conditioner gas and there was an argument that took place. One of the youngsters pushed another off the roof," said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.


EU chief allowed into Gaza

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 11, 2010

Israel will allow the European Union Foreign Affairs Representative, Baroness Catherine Ashton, and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, to enter the Gaza Strip, in an apparent reversal of policy.

Baroness Ashton will visit next week and Mr Ban in April. Both asked Israel to open the Erez crossing into Gaza for their delegations.

Since Hamas took control of the Strip in 2007, Israel has enforced a ban on visitors. The closure was designed to delegitimise Hamas and help the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority assert its leadership.


Getting Charedim to work

By Nathan Jeffay, March 11, 2010

The large buildings and symmetrical streets in Modiin Illit are a world away from the crowded flats found in other Charedi neighbourhoods in Jerusalem and Bnei Brak. And according to new figures, the environment is directly contributing to a growing enthusiasm for work.

Israel's fast-growing Charedi community is traditionally characterised by low employment, high poverty and dependence on charity and benefits. How to change this has become a perennial question of Israeli politics.


Israel's The Office: Who's playing David Brent?

By Simon Round, March 11, 2010

It has been the most sought-after comedy role in Israel. Who would play David Brent in the country's upcoming version of The Office?

Now the Israeli production company has released news of the castings for its own version of the award-winning show - to be called Ha Misrad -– a direct translation of The Office.

In the David Brent role is Dvir Benedek, who, disappointingly will not be called Dovid Brent Cross, but rather Avi Meshulam.


Mossad spy and founding father David Kimche dies

By Jessica Elgot, March 9, 2010

The former leading Mossad agent and diplomat David Kimche has died aged 82.

Born in London, Mr Kimche made aliyah aged 18 and fought in the War of Independence before joining Mossad in the early 1950s.

He became one of the organisation’s leading figures, helping to formulate its mission statement. He also founded Mossad’s research department.

He recruited and directed agents for the intelligence agency, which infiltrated Arab countries, and spent time undercover in Africa, posing as a journalist, in the late 1960s. He later became deputy head of Mossad.


Israel, Palestinians agree to peace talks

By Jessica Elgot, March 8, 2010

Israel and the Palestinians have agreed to indirect peace talks, brokered by US special envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell.

Mr Mitchell, who is currently in Israel, met Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu over the last two days to raise the issue of restarting negotiations. He then met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas this afternoon.

Israel and the Palestinians are expected to conduct four months of negotiations through a US mediator, which will focus on security issues and borders of a potential future Palestinian state.


Apartheid activist slams 'Israel Apartheid Week'

By Marcus Dysch, March 4, 2010

A renowned anti-apartheid activist has defended Israel against comparisons with racially segregated South Africa.

South African-born Benjamin Pogrund, former deputy editor of the Rand Daily Mail in Johannesburg, visited Britain this week as pro-Palestinian groups marked the sixth annual Israeli Apartheid Week.

He said: "I say flatly: Israel within its 1948 borders is not an apartheid state. That is nonsense. Anyone who says it is has either forgotten or does not know what apartheid was."


Ben Gurion airport hit by new safety fears

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 4, 2010

Just how safe is it to land at Ben Gurion airport? Within the next few weeks, the Israeli State Comptroller will publish a comprehensive report chronicling endemic safety failures in the country's civil aviation.

At the root of the problem is the crowded airspace.