Israel news

Barak opposes 'free Shalit' march

By Yaakov Katz, October 20, 2008

Ehud Barak and Noam Shalit, father of captured soldier Gilad, exchanged barbs this week after the defence minister claimed that demonstrations calling for the soldier's release were damaging to negotiations with Hamas that are slated to be renewed in the coming week.

Labour Party leader Mr Barak said on Sunday that he loses sleep at night over the Shalit issue but that the demonstrations could be harmful since Hamas may interpret them as a sign of weakness in Israel and in response increase its demands for the soldier's release.


Jerusalem mayoral race enters last lap

By Anshel Pfeffer, October 17, 2008

The Four candidates vying for the job of Jerusalem's mayor in the elections that will take place on November 11 have been finalised.

The two front-runners are MK Meir Porush of United Torah Judaism (UTJ), representing Jerusalem's strictly Orthodox community, and the independent Nir Barkat, who has led the opposition in Jerusalem's City Hall for the last five years and has emerged as the champion of the secular camp.


New push in Shalit mediation

By Yaakov Katz, October 17, 2008

In an effort to renew negotiations with Hamas for the release of captured soldier Gilad Shalit, Defence Minister Ehud Barak dispatched a senior aide to Cairo this week for talks with Egypt.

Cairo has mediated between Israel and Hamas since Mr Shalit was captured in a cross-border attack in June 2006. Since Israel's prisoner swap with Hizbollah in July, however, talks have been frozen.


‘Halal beer protects us from Hamas’

By Ben Lynfield, October 17, 2008

The hundreds who flocked to the fourth annual Oktoberfest in Taybeh, near Ramallah, had a choice: the eponymous golden draught beer readily available at discount prices, or a non-alcoholic alternative.

This alcohol-free beverage was "halal" beer, according to the appropriately green (the colour of Islam) label on the bottle.

But it was the booze that was most popular at this event, aimed as much at boosting the spirits of the dwindling local Christian community as at promoting the Taybeh Brewing Company, its sponsor.


Leviev cuts back on schools

By Anshel Pfeffer, October 17, 2008

The largest Jewish education network in Europe is to cut back as a result of the global financial crisis.

Or Avner, founded by billionaire Lev Leviev, is to "rationalise" operations due to a shortfall in donations.

Operating more than 100 Jewish schools in Russia, the former Soviet Union, Germany, Israel and the US, it is planning to cut back particularly in places where there are only small communities and little Jewish activity.


Congress stalls Iran bill

October 17, 2008

Efforts to approve tougher sanctions against Iran in the last days before Congress ends its term have fallen through due to partisan disagreements and political disputes.

Republicans blocked the bill - composed of two pieces of legislation which had passed in the House of Representatives - from reaching the Senate floor.


Livni entices Labour into Kadima coalition

By Yaakov Katz, October 17, 2008

Foreign Minister and Kadima party head Tzipi Livni inched closer to becoming prime minister this week after agreeing a partial deal on bringing the Labour party into the coalition she is trying to form after Ehud Olmert's resignation last month.

Deputy Defence Minister Matan Vilnai said Labour was confident that a new government would be formed in the coming weeks.

According to the agreement, Labour party chairman Ehud Barak will be granted veto power over legislation and the government's diplomatic and social agenda.


Akko Riots: Arab-Jewish tensions flare

By Michal Levertov, October 17, 2008

Across the blue-collar housing projects in the mixed Jewish-Arab city of Akko, the squares are strewn with chunks of bricks, fragments of tiles and shattered glass.

Police guards are stationed outside the homes of Arab families and patrolling street corners. Five days of rioting have left this city, with 72 per cent of its 53,000 residents Jewish and 28 per cent Arab, swamped with fear.


‘Fraud’ case man’s £2.6m barmitzvah

By Leon Symons, October 10, 2008

A businessman wanted on fraud charges in America has been allowed to attend his son's barmitzvah in Israel after rabbis pledged £2m in sureties.

Zev Saltsman, who lives in Hendon, North-West London, was arrested in London a year ago after he was named as one of six men accused by US federal prosecutors in Brooklyn.

He was alleged to have made $55m (£31.5m) in fraudulent profits through private share sales. He has not admitted the allegations in the USA.


IDF on high alert for new settler violence

By Yaakov Katz, October 10, 2008

Israeli security forces went on high alert this week out of fear that a recent spate of settler violence will escalate as a result of Palestinian farmers harvesting olives in groves located near settlements.

In recent weeks, senior IDF officers have met frequently with their Palestinian counterparts to prepare for the harvest season, which started this week and will last until late December.