Israel news

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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Minister’s threat of Iran attack ‘sends oil price soaring’

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 13, 2008

A weekend newspaper interview with Israel’s Transportation Minister, Shaul Mofaz, who threatened Iran with military action, has been deemed a major cause of the latest spike in oil prices.

Mr Mofaz’s threats coincided with the unofficial start of his Kadima leadership primaries campaign, but its reverberations were felt much further afield than Israel’s political scene.

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Paratrooper thanks pilot who risked all to save him

By Shelly Paz, June 6, 2008

Lying seriously injured in a battlefield in South Lebanon, with a bullet in his head and another in his leg, 21-year-old Israeli Staff Sergeant Gur Nedzvetsky knew that the chances of rescue were receding rapidly.

But as dawn began to break on the ninth day of the Second Lebanon War — making a landing by a rescue helicopter even riskier than usual — the sounds of an Israeli military Blackhawk hovering above him gave the young Russian-born paratrooper fresh hope.

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