Israel news

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Kadima prepares for new party primaries

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 6, 2008

The countdown to the end of Ehud Olmert’s premiership will begin next week, when senior Kadima members will meet to agree upon a date for primaries for a new leader.

Mr Olmert has signalled that he will not oppose the move, though he is still maintaining that he has no plans to resign. Meanwhile, support is growing in the Knesset for bringing forward the elections.


Progress in prisoner swap but hopes fade for soldiers

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 6, 2008

The first stage of a prisoner swap between Israel and Hizbollah took place this week amid growing fears that the two IDF soldiers captured two years ago are dead.

Hizbollah surprised Israel with a consignment of body parts, belonging to five soldiers killed during the Second Lebanon War.

The handover at Nakura on Sunday was supposed to be of convicted spy Nassim Nasser who had finished serving his six-year prison sentence in Israel.


Conversion body was ‘a failure’

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 6, 2008

The Israeli Civil Service Authority has described the Conversion Directorate in a special report as “failing in a national mission” by not succeeding in boosting the number of conversions in Israel over the past decade.

The directorate’s head, Rabbi Haim Drukman, dismissed two weeks ago by the Prime Minister’s Office, hit back at the findings, insisting that “the report is warped and maliciously targeted against me and my deputy.

“We never committed ourselves to numbers and this is a travesty of the whole issue.”


Outrage over East Jerusalem plans

By Ben Lynfield, June 6, 2008

In the face of criticism from the Palestinian Authority, the United States and the UN, Israeli housing minister Zeev Boim has defended a decision to expand Jewish housing in parts of East Jerusalem considered as settlements by the international community.

Mr Boim said that the decision to build nearly 900 units at Har Homa and in Givat Zeev was taken with the “knowledge and approval” of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and underlined the government’s policy to maintain Jerusalem as an undivided capital.


Amnesty slates Israel and Palestinians in report

By Bernard Josephs, May 30, 2008

Both the Palestinians and Israel have been heavily criticised in a major report issued this week by Amnesty International to mark the 60th anniversary of the International Declaration of Human Rights.

Launching the report, the organisation’s secretary-general Irene Khan said it covered countries all over the world, but noted that in the Middle East the brunt seemed “to fall on civilians taking no part in conflict”.