Israel news

‘Obama trend’ hits mayors

By Michal Levertov, November 13, 2008

The veteran mayors of three of Israel's largest cities lost out to younger rivals in this week's municipal elections, with one blaming his defeat on "the Obama trend".

In Beer Sheva, Yaakov Turner, 73, mayor for the past 11 years, was roundly defeated by his former protégée and deputy, 36-year-old Rubik Danilovitch, who won 60 per cent of the votes.

Mr Terner said: "The Obama trend, with its spirit of change, swept many young people to voting, but hurt veteran mayors."


Concern over ‘lost’ refugees

By Ben Lynfield, November 13, 2008

The UN's refugee agency has confirmed that 91 African refugees expelled by Israel to Egypt as part of its controversial "hot return" policy have gone missing.

A spokeswoman in Cairo for the United Nations High Commission on Refugees said that Egypt had not responded to requests for information about the 91, who were returned shortly after crossing illegally from Sinai into Israel.

"We don't have access to this group, we do not know where they are," she said.


Britain confirms its anti-settlement push

By Anshel Pfeffer, November 13, 2008

The Foreign Office has confirmed that Britain's initiative against Israeli exports originating in the West Bank is merely the opening shot in a wider campaign it is waging against the settlements.

A paper sent by the UK to its European Union counterparts, which was revealed last week, urged EU members to exercise more vigilance in monitoring Israeli products, to ensure they were not manufactured in the settlements. Israel opposes British demands for clearly labelling such goods.


Israel tourist boom biggest for 60 years

By Anthea Gerrie, November 13, 2008

Israel has enjoyed unprecedented tourism success this year, with a staggering three million international arrivals.

The figure, the highest in the 60 years since independence, presages a lucrative new source of prosperity for a country which saw foreign tourism dwindle to a near-standstill during the intifada.

Low-cost flights, the return of cruise ships to Haifa and what Rafi Shalev, new director of tourism in UK and Ireland for the Israel Government Tourist Office, calls the "football factor" have all been leading reasons.


New mayor boosts secular Jerusalem

By Ben Lynfield, November 13, 2008

Newly elected Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat has vowed to serve all sectors of the city's population after a campaign that brought to the fore deep divisions between the secular and the strictly-Orthodox community.


Barak faces challenge from former allies

By Michal Levertov, November 12, 2008

Former Labour leaders and high-profile figures including authors Amos Oz and David Grossman are to launch a new movement to run jointly with Meretz in February's elections.

Their aim is to win 10-12 seats in the next Knesset and replace Labour as Israel's largest left-wing political camp.

Leading figures in the new grouping, to be announced today (Friday) include former Labour ministers Uzi Baram and Shlomo Ben-Ami, and former Knesset speaker Avraham Burg.


Livni fears UK-led push to boycott settlement goods

By Anshel Pfeffer, November 6, 2008

The Israeli and British governments have clashed over imports from West Bank settlements, with Jerusalem concerned this may be the first salvo in a British-led international campaign.

The issue has been personally pursued by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who, according to an internal document "has proposed a round-table involving UK government officials, NGOs, and retailers" to discuss it.


Shin Bet fears settlers may turn to arms

By Ben Lynfield, November 6, 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.


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.