Israel news

Israel will swap land for peace, Livni tells Berlin

By Shelly Paz, June 27, 2008

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told a Berlin conference this week that Israel was willing to accept territorial compromise in return for peace.

But Israel would not accept another “extremist Islamic state which is unable to fulfil its commitments and control its own territory”, said Ms Livni. She was one of 20 foreign ministers — including US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice — at the Conference in Support of Palestinian Civil Security and the Rule of Law hosted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

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Diaspora ‘crisis’ plan

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 27, 2008

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced a radical rethink of policy in Israel-diaspora relations this week, warning that “a serious crisis” of assimilation and alienation faces world Jewry.

In the keynote speech to the Jewish Agency’s board of governors in Jerusalem, Mr Olmert acknowledged that “the era of mass aliyah from countries of distress has come to a close”.

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Family fury as Olmert zig-zags on prisoner swap

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 27, 2008

The Israeli cabinet is to vote on Sunday on the prisoner exchange with Hizbollah, after a week in which Prime Minister Ehud Olmert twice changed his mind on the deal by which Israel is to receive two soldiers in return for handing over five Lebanese prisoners.

The prisoner swap seemed imminent last week after Israeli and Lebanese sources both confirmed that a deal had been brokered by the German government.

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Israeli top brass split over plan to hit Iran

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 27, 2008

Media reports of a recent wide-scale Israeli military exercise over the Mediterranean — widely interpreted as a dry-run for a possible attack on Iran — have highlighted stark differences among the Israeli leadership over what action to take against Iran’s nuclear programme.

More than 100 F-15 and F-16 fighter planes, backed up by rescue helicopters, air-refuelling aircraft, command-and-communications and electronic-warfare planes, flew almost 1,000 miles simulating the flight-path which would be used to bomb Iran.

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Outrage in Knesset as Olmert avoids early poll

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 27, 2008

A last-minute deal between Kadima and Labour in the early hours of Wednesday staved off — for now — the threat of early elections in Israel, but may have hastened the political demise of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who committed his party to leadership primaries in three months.

The Knesset was to vote on a motion by Likud MK Silvan Shalom for bringing the elections forward two years to this November. Kadima’s two main coalition partners, Labour and Shas, announced at the beginning of the week that they were planning to support the motion.

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Hamas prisoner swap ‘on course’

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 27, 2008

The negotiations over the release of captured Israeli soldier First-Sergeant Gilad Shalit are expected to intensify this week in Cairo, a week into the fragile ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

The ceasefire, which began last Thursday morning, has not been without its hiccups. Though both sides observed their commitments not to launch attacks on and from the Gaza Strip, Hamas did not prevent the Islamic Jihad movement from firing three rockets at Israel on Tuesday, in retaliation to one of its senior members being killed by the IDF near Nablus in the West Bank.

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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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Fans flock to Tel Aviv — but where in the world is Wayne?

By Simon Griver, June 19, 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 19, 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 19, 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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