Israeli government

Ehud Barak quits Labour to form new Israeli party

By Jennifer Lipman, January 17, 2011

Ehud Barak and four other former members of Israel’s Labour faction have announced they are to form a new centrist political party.

Mr Barak, who currently serves as defence minister in Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government and was Israel’s 10th prime minister, revealed the creation of the “Independence” party in an open letter to parliament.

The letter said: "The new independent faction will be a centrist Zionist and democratic faction and will advance these ideas in the Knesset and the coalition, and in the future in public.”

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Netanyahu: paid less than David Cameron

By Jennifer Lipman, January 11, 2011

Benjamin Netanyahu is paid less than both David Cameron and footballer Yossi Benayoun.

The Israeli Prime Minister revealed his monthly salary of 15,027 shekels (£2,700) by posting his pay slip on his Facebook page.

Personal information was blurred on the slip, but the document suggests that Mr Netanyahu makes more than £90,000 a year.

Writing in Hebrew, Arab and English, Mr Netanyahu told his 3,750 Facebook fans that he had posted the document online “to provide total transparency concerning my monthly pay slip”.

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Moshe Katzav: Shock and anger sweep Israel - but also pride

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 6, 2011

Moshe Katzav is planning to appeal against his conviction - but he may have to do it from a prison cell.

The judges' damning verdict leaves little doubt that he will be handed a lengthy prison term before he is able to take his case to Israel's Supreme Court.

But despite fierce criticism of the conduct of the trial by Katzav and his supporters, opinion polls suggest most Israelis think he received fair treatment.

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Profile: Moshe Katzav

December 30, 2010

Moshe Katzav was the eighth president of Israel, holding office from 2000 until his resignation in July 2007.

Born in Yazd, in Iran, he was brought to Tehran by his family before their immigration to Israel in 1951, when he was five.

At first the family lived in an immigrant campsite, near the port city of Ashdod. Tragedy struck that winter when severe flooding in the camp claimed the life of Katzav's two-month-old brother, Zion.

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Ex-president Katzav guilty of rape

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 30, 2010

Israel was shocked this morning as former president, Moshe Katzav was found guilty of two counts of rape, one of an obscene act, one of sexual harassment and of attempting to subvert the course of justice.

The Tel-Aviv District Court, headed by Judge George Kara, upheld the claims of three un-named women who had worked in Mr Katzav's office when he served as president and previously as tourism minister. The court's verdict was total and devastating, rejecting the defence's claims and describing the former president's version as "riddled with lies."

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Israeli cabinet approves detention centre for illegal immigrants

By Nathan Jeffay, December 9, 2010

The Israeli government has announced it will build a detention centre for the growing number of people entering the country illegally.

Since 2005, there has been an influx of Africans, the vast majority of them Sudanese and Eritreans. More than 35,000 of them have reached Israel via Egypt.

At the end of November, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu declared: "This growing wave threatens Israelis' jobs, is changing the character of the country and we must stop it." He added that "there has been talk for years but now we are not talking".

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Israel's leaders must accept some blame for fire

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 9, 2010

Binyamin Netanyahu can arguably be said to have come out well from the first national emergency of his second premiership.

Indeed, his decision to call it
a "national emergency" - at one stage he even used the word "international" - contributed to the marshalling of resources necessary to put the fire out, four days and 42 deaths after it was ignited.

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Sacked MK vows to run new party

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 2, 2010

Rabbi Chaim Amsellem, the Knesset member banished last week by his party Shas for his "heretical" views, is now threatening to form a new party for "traditional" Sephardi voters.

Rabbi Amsellem, a second-term MK, has repeatedly angered conservative Charedi rabbis and politicians with his over-liberal positions on religious and social issues.

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Israel-Britain strategic talks back on

By Jennifer Lipman, November 4, 2010

Security and defence talks between the Israeli and British government will now take place in Israel amidst fears that Knesset members could be prosecuted under universal jurisdiction legislation if they visit Britain.

As the JC reported earlier this week, the Israeli Deputy Prime Minister, Dan Meridor, cancelled a speech at the Bicom dinner in London just hours before the event.

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On this day: Yitzhak Rabin is assassinated

By Jennifer Lipman, November 4, 2010

What was supposed be an event celebrating peace ended as one mourning a tragedy.

More 300,000 people had gathered that night in a square in Tel Aviv for a peace concert, hopeful that the Oslo accords signed by Mr Rabin and PLO chairman Yasir Arafat in 1993, would finally bring an end to the Middle East conflict.

It was not to be. Yigal Amir, an extremist Orthodox Jewish man, shot Mr Rabin as he was leaving the square. Amir is now serving a life sentence for the murder.

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