Israeli government

Netanyahu and Mitchell 'can't agree on settlements'

By Jessica Elgot, September 15, 2009

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US envoy George Mitchell have failed to reach any agreement over settlement construction in the West Bank.

The two men held a two-hour meeting in Jerusalem, but Mr Mitchell has been forced to extend his stay in Israel until Thursday when the two will meet again for further discussions.

They had hoped to reach an agreement in time to announce plans for a potential settlement construction freeze at the meeting of the UN General Assembly in New York next week.

More..

Settlements approved before West Bank freeze

September 4, 2009

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is set to approve hundreds of West Bank housing units ahead of a possible construction freeze, according to Israeli officials.

Mr Netanyahu is expected to support the building of new units, in addition to the 2,500 that are yet to be completed. The new buildings will be based in the West Bank, rather than East Jerusalem.

The US has been pressuring the Israeli government to halt all new settlement construction.

More..

Hundreds of settlements will be approved before West Bank freeze

September 4, 2009

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is set to approve hundreds of West Bank housing units ahead of a possible construction freeze, according to Israeli officials.

Mr Netanyahu is expected to support the building of new units, in addition to the 2,500 that are yet to be completed. The new buildings will be based in the West Bank, rather than East Jerusalem.

The US has been pressuring the Israeli government to halt all new settlement construction.

More..

Israeli Foreign Minister Lieberman heads to Africa

September 2, 2009

Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman leaves on a diplomatic mission to Africa today, as he looks to take Israeli foreign policy in a new direction.

The trip marks the first time that an Israeli foreign minister has visited sub-Saharan Africa in more than 20 years.

Mr Lieberman and a delegation of 20 Israeli businesspeople will visit Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, and Ghana during the week-long trip.

Africa has a strong presence in international forums, such as the UN, where it tends to exhibit pro-Arab sentiment.

More..

Analysis: Lieberman's last cabinet meeting?

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 6, 2009

Yisrael Beiteinu may have 15 Knesset members, as well as several ministries and parliamentary committees, but is still essentially a one-man party.

Avigdor Lieberman handpicked the candidates, decided which spot they would receive on the list and who would become a minister.

But now, he is learning the limitations of his power.

After an investigation which seemed never ending, the police this week recommended pressing charges against Israel’s foreign minister for allegedly money laundering over NIS 10 million (£1.5 million).

More..

Barak: We should accept US peace plan

By Jessica Elgot, August 4, 2009

Israel’s Defence Minister, Ehud Barak, has said he expects a new peace proposal from the US administration to arrive in the next few weeks, which he believes Israel should accept.

Mr Barak announced his intention of accepting the proposal at a meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee.

More..

Lieberman: "I'll resign if I'm charged"

By Jessica Elgot, August 3, 2009

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has announced that if fraud charges are brought against him then he will immediately resign.

But in a statement he said: "I believe that next year, and in two years, I will remain the (Yisrael Beiteinu) chairman and the foreign minister."

Israeli police recommended Mr Lieberman be charged with corruption, breach of trust, embezzlement and money-laundering, after a 13-year investigation.

Police have been investigating fake companies allegedly formed by Mr Lieberman and his partners, which they claim were used as fronts to launder money.

More..

Israel fourth from bottom of peace index

By Jessica Elgot, July 31, 2009

Israel has been placed a dismal 141st out of 144 on a list of the world’s most peaceful countries, beating just Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia.

Countries which ranked higher in the 2009 Global Peace Index included Sudan, Zimbabwe, Lebanon, North Korea, and Iran.

The index was compiled by the think-tank Vision of Humanity, with the data compiled and analysed by the Economic Intelligence Unit.

The survey is endorsed by ex-United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Anan, the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former US President Jimmy Carter.

More..

The New Jersey scandal could hurt Israel's Shas party

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 30, 2009

The arrest of leaders of the Halebi community in New York and New Jersey sent shockwaves through the Sephardi Orthodox party, Shas, in Israel.

While numerically the Halebis are one of the smaller Sephardi groups, their financial clout is inordinate.
Rabbi Ovadia Yossef and other Shas leaders have regularly visited the Halebi communities in New York, Sao Paolo and Mexico City to give sermons and fundraise.

Rabbi Ovadia has been close to the community for over six decades. While he was born in Baghdad, his late wife, Margalit, was the daughter of a respected Halebi family.

More..

Analysis: An agreement on a settlement freeze is imminent

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 30, 2009

Visits by four high-ranking American officials to Israel this week seem to have pushed Binyamin Netanyahu’s government to the brink of an agreement on freezing settlement building.

Defence Secretary Robert Gates, National Security Adviser Jim Jones, special envoy George Mitchell and Middle East negotiator Dennis Ross all repeated the requisite statements on America’s commitment to Israel’s security and tried hard to infuse a friendly atmosphere into the talks. They even began to sound tough about imposing time limits on talks with Iran.

More..