UK government

The clashes that divided Thatcher and Israel

By Marcus Dysch, December 30, 2010

Margaret Thatcher believed that Menachem Begin was the "most difficult" man she had to deal with in the early years of her premiership, and thought his West Bank policy "absurd".

The former Prime Minister's views about her Israeli counterpart are unearthed in documents released by the National Archives under the 30-year rule.

The previously secret papers reveal that, during a tête-à-tête with President Giscard of France at Number 10 in November 1979, Mrs Thatcher discussed how she had "never had a more difficult man to deal with" than Mr Begin.


Charedim applaud visa rule change

By Simon Rocker, December 29, 2010

The Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations has welcomed a court ruling which may force the government to ease restrictions on marriage visas.

Two years ago, new rules were introduced to refuse entry for spouses from outside the European Union if they or their British spouse were under 21.

But the change hit the Charedi community, where people marry young and often choose partners from Israel or the USA.

The Court of Appeal has now called into question the whole policy - which was designed to combat forced marriages - after upholding appeals on behalf of two non-Jewish couples.


FOI papers 'lost', say

By Jonathan Kalmus, December 22, 2010

Civil servants lost a Freedom of Information appeal which could shed light on a missing Israeli soldier.

The Foreign Office said it did not know what had happened to papers requesting a 1982 ambassador's report, which may have contained references to Zachary Baumel. It only said they had been passed to the Information Commissioner's Office. But an official there said: "The FO are dealing with it. It's not an ongoing case with us."

Now lawyers acting for the soldier's family have been asked by the FO to make a fresh appeal. But they fear the mix-up could be a delaying tactic.


Tillman calls for delay to VAT rise

By Robyn Rosen, December 22, 2010

Harold Tillman, the chairman of the British Fashion Council, has urged the Government to delay VAT rises.

Mr Tillman, a member of St John’s Wood Synagogue, is calling for January’s planned VAT rise to 20 per cent to be postponed for 30 days to help consumers who have been prevented from shopping because of this month’s snow.

Mr Tillman, who owns clothing brands Jaeger and Aquascutum and was appointed a CBE for his services to fashion earlier this year, told Sky News: “I think that would allow people that were going to shop, that want to shop, to do so in January.


On this day: Eden condemns Nazi exterminations of Jews

By Jennifer Lipman, December 17, 2010

Embroiled in a war with the Axis powers since September 1939, in 1942 Britain’s Foreign Secretary made a statement in Parliament condemning "Hitler's oft repeated intention to exterminate the Jewish people in Europe".

For Anglo-Jewry it was a welcome statement at a time when reports of the extent of the Nazi genocide were beginning to emerge in the British media. Six months earlier in June 1942 the Daily Telegraph had written of the murder of 700,000 Polish Jews through methods including gas chambers.


Foreign Office says no to MIA report

By Jonathan Kalmus, December 16, 2010

The British government is refusing to release documents which could shed light on the fate of three Israeli soldiers missing since 1982 because it says sensitive information could harm diplomatic relations with Syria.

On June 11 1982, three Israeli soldiers went missing after a battle with Syrian and Palestinian forces near the Lebanese village of Sultan Yaqub in the last moments of the Lebanon war. Zachary Baumel, Yehuda Katz and Zvi Feldman, all in their 20s at the time, are still officially MIA - missing in action.


Chancellor George Osborne at Norwood event

By Jennifer Lipman, December 10, 2010
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Following the tuition fees vote George Osborne addresses guests at a Norwood panel event.

The evening raised £26,000 for the charity.


Conservative cabinet aide Lee Scott pledges to abstain in tuition fees vote

By Jennifer Lipman, December 8, 2010

Jewish MP Lee Scott has joined the list of possible government rebels in tomorrows vote on plans to raise university fees.

The Conservative MP for Ilford North has said he will abstain at the vote, despite being a senior cabinet aide in the coalition government.

In an email to the JC, he said: "I am not voting for a fees increase.”

He added: “I am working on proposals to help students and will have further details in the new year.”

Before the general election Mr Scott was one of four incumbent Conservatives to sign a pledge to block higher fees.


MPs secure parliamentary debate on antisemitism

By Jennifer Lipman, December 7, 2010

MPs will have the chance to quiz ministers on the coalition government’s policies to tackle antisemitism next January, thanks to the efforts of two backbench MPs from opposing parties.

The debate, to take place in parliament on January 20, is the first one focused on antisemitism to be set up by backbench MPs.

John Mann and Mike Freer, respectively the chair and vice-president of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) Against Antisemitism, instigated the debate to give MPs the opportunity to discuss ways to tackle antisemitism.


Government announce universal jurisdiction law change

By Jennifer Lipman, December 1, 2010

The government has at long last announced a change to Britain’s universal jurisdiction legislation.

A year after Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni cancelled a London speech for fear of arrest the Home Office published details of alterations to the law on magistrates issuing arrest warrants for foreign politicians.

The new Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill includes “a requirement for the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions to be given before an arrest warrant can be issued in a private prosecution for offences of universal jurisdiction.”