UK news

Stacey Solomon out of X Factor

By Jessica Elgot, December 12, 2009

Stacey Solomon has finished in third place in the final of X Factor, which was watched by 20 million viewers.

Stacey, who was mentored by Dannii Minogue, was voted out of the ITV show despite never having been in the bottom two of the competition.

Speaking after the vote, Stacey said: "I came third, that's really good. I'm really proud. I've had the time of my life. Thanks to everyone who kept me here to the final."

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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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Israelis win honorary MBEs in Queen's honours list

By Marcus Dysch, December 10, 2009

Two Israelis have been awarded honorary MBEs by the Queen in recognition of their work in strengthening British ties with the Jewish state.

Natie Shevel, UJIA regional director for Israel, was recognised for his “outstanding achievement” and services to the charity, and for local efforts which “stand out as an example to others”.

Sonia Feldman, who has worked as science education manager at the British Council office in Tel Aviv for 37 years, is recognised for promoting UK science in Israel.

South African-born Mr Shevel, 42, said: “It’s taken me completely by surprise.

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Charities miss out on cash

By Simon Rocker, December 10, 2009

Charities are missing out by not claiming extra tax relief through Gift Aid on cash donations, according to the Charity Commission.

It says that each £10 could attract an extra £2.50 through Gift Aid — with an additional 30p that can be reclaimed from the Inland Revenue until April 2011.

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Historian blasts UK's Israel policy

By Marcus Dysch, December 10, 2009

Historian Andrew Roberts has launched a scathing attack on British policy towards Israel, claiming only Israel itself is prepared to defend Jews from a second Holocaust.

Speaking at the Anglo-Israel Association’s annual dinner in London on Tuesday, Mr Roberts pledged to “strip away some of the myths” surrounding the relationship between the two countries.

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Matt Lucas and Ron Prosor make 2010 Who's Who

By Simon Rocker, December 10, 2009

Israeli ambassador Ron Prosor and comedian Matt Lucas are among the new Jewish entrants to the bible of British achievement, the 2010 edition of Who’s Who.

No hobbies are ascribed to the ambassador, but for the 35-year-old co-star of Little Britain, eating crisps and crumpets and watching football are listed among his recreations.

Channel Five controller Richard Woolfe, the chairman of London Fashion Week Harold Tillman, and paragliding theatre director Mark Rubinstein also make their debut this time.

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Interview: The UK's new Jewish ambassador to Israel

By Jenni Frazer, December 10, 2009

Britain has appointed its first Jewish ambassador to Israel. And Matthew Gould, a high-flying Foreign Office diplomat, is optimistic that his posting — to begin in autumn 2010 — will send out a significant message, both to his hosts and the UK Jewish community.

Mr Gould, 38, is currently Principal Private Secretary to Foreign Secretary David Miliband. Two of his predecessors as PPS to the foreign secretary of the day, Simon McDonald and Sherard Cowper-Coles, also went on to become British ambassador to Israel, so there is an established precedent.

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Err, thanks. Fascist pub lunch raises money for hospital

By Simon Rocker, December 10, 2009

Supporters of an extreme right-wing Hungarian party allied to the BNP have formed a group to promote its views in Britain.

Around 50 people came to a north London pub on Sunday for a meeting of the Jobbik Friends of Hungary UK, set up by Hungarian expats, according to the Jobbik party’s English website.

But describing the move as an “unwelcome development”, a Community Security Trust spokesman said: “We have more than enough of our own right-wing extremists, and do not need to import any more.”

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Government split over Gaza war 'line'

By Martin Bright, December 10, 2009

Two government departments have clashed over official policy on the last Gaza conflict.

The Foreign Office was forced to intervene to stop a Department for Communities and Local Government initiative to reassure the Muslim community that the British government did not support Israel’s actions in Gaza, the JC can reveal.

The DCLG, which is responsible for the government’s Prevent programme to tackle violent extremism, was keen to emphasise that the British government had serious reservations about Israel’s Cast Lead operation.

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PM: ‘Happy Chanucah’

December 10, 2009

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has marked the start of Chanucah by offering his warm wishes to Britain’s Jews.

In a message released on the Downing Street website, Mr Brown wrote: “As Britain’s Jewish community joins Jews all over the world in celebrating Chanucah I wanted to pass on my own warm wishes for this festival of lights.

“As you gather round the menorah, may you draw strength from the Chanucah story of how light and faith can endure the toughest of times.”

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