Israeli government

Israel, Palestinians agree to peace talks

By Jessica Elgot, March 8, 2010

Israel and the Palestinians have agreed to indirect peace talks, brokered by US special envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell.

Mr Mitchell, who is currently in Israel, met Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu over the last two days to raise the issue of restarting negotiations. He then met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas this afternoon.

Israel and the Palestinians are expected to conduct four months of negotiations through a US mediator, which will focus on security issues and borders of a potential future Palestinian state.

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Israeli heritage site row 'could start intifada'

By Jessica Elgot, February 24, 2010

Israeli president Shimon Peres has said that the row over the protection of Jewish and Muslim heritage sites by Israel is being incited by extremists and Hamas.

Hamas’s leader in Gaza has called on Palestinians to attack Israel over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to include the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, and the site of Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem, in a £69m restoration plan. Both are also important Islamic shrines.

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Oxford student at Israeli minister: 'Kill the Jews'

By Marcus Dysch, February 9, 2010

Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister was met by a protester screaming “slaughter the Jews” as he spoke at the Oxford Union.

Antisemitic and anti-Israel abuse was shouted throughout Danny Ayalon’s speech on Monday evening, with students causing numerous disruptions to the event.

During the hour-long session one student ran towards Mr Ayalon shouting the Arabic phrase “Itbah Al-Yahud” [Slaughter the Jews].

As many as 10 others, carrying Palestinian flags, made attempts to attack Mr Ayalon but were intercepted and removed by security.

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No peace? Blame the EU and the UN

By Stephen Pollard, February 8, 2010

The cliché about the annual Herzliya conference is that anyone who is anyone in discussions about Israel’s security is there. But that’s not quite true. Rather, everyone is there — from the most senior Israeli politicians, soldiers and advisers to students, foreign experts and even grubby hacks.

Most years there tends to be a theme on everyone’s lips. This year, there were two.

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Israel to fence off Egyptian border

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 14, 2010

After years of deliberations, the Israeli government has decided to build a border fence along its border with Egypt. The fence is meant to keep out terrorists, but the more immediate reason is to stem the flood of African refugees into Israel.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu authorised a plan presented to him by the Defence Ministry to spend NIS 1.5 billion on a fence between Israel and Egypt.

Besides a few short fences near the Gaza Strip to the north and Eilat in the south, most of the border, over 300km, is not fenced.

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Bourekas 'banned' from Israeli cabinet

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 6, 2010

Israeli ministers arriving for the weekly government meeting on Sunday morning were surprised to find sliced vegetables and fresh fruit on the cabinet table, instead of the normal lavish repast.

The change of menu is the initiative of Cabinet Secretary, Tzvi Hauser, who decided to end the age-old custom where ministers enjoyed bourekas, ruggelach and sandwiches during their meeting.

"I reached the conclusion that the ministers have to eat healthy food, it's time to say enough to the dough and oil," said Mr Hauser.

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Israel marks four years of Ariel Sharon's coma

By Jessica Elgot, January 4, 2010

Israel has marked the fourth anniversary of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s coma after a massive stroke.

Mr Sharon, 81, has been in a coma since 2006 and is currently in a care facility in Ra’anana, outside Tel Aviv. He suffered a stroke several months after the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.

He was elected Prime Minister in 2001 as head of Likud, but abandoned his old party after making enemies when he backed the withdrawal from Gaza.

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Israeli MK: Boycott UK products

By Jessica Elgot, December 17, 2009

British-Israeli relations have plummeted further after an Israeli MP called for a boycott of British products.

Kadima MK Ronit Tirosh has led an initiative in the Knesset against Britain’s decision to label products from the West Bank as being made by Jewish settlers or Palestinians.

A petition signed by 40 of the 120 MKs is to be sent to the British government, urging them to reconsider the decision.

Ms Tirosh said: “I call on Israelis to think twice before buying British products if the decision is not rescinded by the British government."

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Israel and UK row over settlement labels

By Marcus Dysch, December 11, 2009

The Israeli government has accused Britain of encouraging a boycott of goods from West Bank settlements.

The two countries are locked in a diplomatic row after the British government released new guidelines for supermarkets on labelling of foods from settlements and products made by Palestinians.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has issued voluntary guidance to UK stores stating that labels should differentiate between “Israeli settlement produce” and “Palestinian produce”. Currently, foods are labeled “Produce of the West Bank”.

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BNP praises Israel minister on foreigners

By Martin Bright and Anshel Pfeffer, November 5, 2009

The British National Party has leapt on comments by Israel’s Interior Minister, Eli Yishai, to suggest that the extreme-right party shares a common immigration policy with Israel.

Mr Yishai claimed that foreign workers brought diseases into Israel and that their presence threatened the Jewish and Zionist identity of the state.

He also attacked cabinet colleagues who were in favour of allowing the children of illegal foreign workers to remain in Israel.

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