Palestine

Israel helps to boost Bethlehem tourism

By Ben Lynfield, December 23, 2008

A tourist revival in Bethlehem has seen the number of visitors double this year.

Israel and the Palestinian Authority cite improved security as the main factor in bringing 1.25 million tourists to Bethlehem, twice as many as in 2007.

But while Israel stresses that it has made it easier for tourists to cross from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, the PA insists difficulties still remain and that tourism figures could be higher if not for the difficulties still involved in travel.

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Brown criticises Israel’s Palestinian policy

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 18, 2008

Prime Minister Gordon Brown criticised Israel’s policy on the territories at a London conference on investment in the Palestinian economy this week.

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Fayyad talks

December 4, 2008

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has invited the Palestinian Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, to talks at 10 Downing Street on December 15.

He has also invited the Israeli premier, Ehud Olmert, for separate discussions on the same day.

On the agenda for both the Mid East prime ministers will be economic regeneration for the Palestinian region and long- and short-term prospects for peace in the area.

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Palestinians ‘optimistic’ over Obama

By Ben Lynfield, November 6, 2008

Palestinian leaders are hoping Barack Obama's campaign emphasis on change will translate in office into a shift away from what they view as reflexive American support for Israel.

"I don't know if there is going to be pressure on Israel but he may have a different approach, one of engaging the Israelis, of persuading them," former Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Ziyad Abu Amer said.

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Miliband in Mid-East diplomacy drive

By Bernard Josephs and Anshel Pfeffer, November 6, 2008

Talks with Syria and the Palestinian Authority will be high on the agenda during Foreign Secretary David Miliband's visit to Israel in 10 days' time. Mr Miliband will be reporting to his Israeli counterparts on his meeting last week with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem.

Mr Miliband will be travelling to Israel during its election season, and in addition to meeting outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Kadima leader Tzipi Livni, he will also be sounding out Defence Minister Ehud Barak of Labour and Likud's Binyamin Netanyahu.

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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.

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Hamas pledges truce as Kassams hit Ashkelon

November 5, 2008

Palestinians have fired 35 Kassam rockets into Israel today from the Gaza Strip, in the worst outbreak of violence since June's ceasefire.

Hamas have claimed responsibility for the rockets but have vowed to maintain the five-month truce with Israel.

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Palestinian envoy to speak at Reform shul

By Simon Rocker, October 10, 2008

The Palestinian Authority's UK envoy has been invited to address a meeting of Reform synagogues next month.

Professor Manuel Hassassian will speak at the North Western Reform Synagogue (Alyth Gardens) in London at an event jointly hosted by the synagogue, Finchley Reform Synagogue and the Progressive Zionist movement, Pro Zion.

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Rice urges Israel, PA to forge agreement

By Yaakov Katz, August 28, 2008

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made a lightning trip to Israel this week in a last-ditch effort to secure a written agreement between Israel and the Palestinians before the end of President Bush's term in January.

Ms Rice met with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and also paid a short visit to Ramallah for talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

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Prisoner release may do nothing for Shalit

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 22, 2008

Israeli defence sources have warned that the government decision to release 199 Palestinian prisoners as a gesture to the Palestinian Authority - and to apply pressure on Hamas over the negotiations to free Sergeant Gilad Shalit - might backfire.

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