World news

Mass walkout during Ahmadinejad UN speech

By Jessica Elgot, September 24, 2009

British, American and French diplomats led a walkout at the United Nations general assembly during a virulently anti-Jewish and anti-Israel speech by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Mr Ahmadinejad infuriated many delegates with claims of a 'Jewish conspiracy'.


Egypt's Farouk Hosni beaten to UN job

By Jessica Elgot, September 23, 2009

The Egyptian Culture Minister Farouk Hosni, tipped to become head of Unesco, has been beaten to the post by former Bulgarian Foreign Minister Irina Bokova.

It took a committee five rounds of votes to decide that the new Director General of Unesco, the United Nations’ cultural arm, would be Ms Bokova.

Mr Hosni, who would have been the first Arab to hold the position, has been an outspoken critic of Israel and his campaign was dogged with allegations of antisemitism.


Obama meets Netanyahu and Abbas

By Jessica Elgot, September 23, 2009

President Barack Obama has told Israeli and Palestinian leaders that they must show the will to “break the deadlock that has trapped generations”.

Mr Obama met Israeli Prime Minster Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas separately in New York, before chairing a trilateral meeting.

The meeting was denounced by many politicians and commentators as nothing more than a photo opportunity, given that talks between US Special Envoy George Mitchell with Mr Netanyahu and Mr Abbas last week in Jerusalem and Ramallah failed to bring agreement.


Israel 'would consider Iran attack'

By Jessica Elgot, September 22, 2009

Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister has said it would not rule out an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, despite alleged assurances to the contrary to Russia.

Danny Ayalon said: "I don't think that, with all due respect, the Russian President [Dmitry Medvedev] is authorised to speak for Israel and certainly we have not taken any option off the table."

Echoing Mr Ayalon's sentiments, IDF chief Lt Gen Gabi Ashkenazi stressed that Israel had "the right to defend itself and all options are on the table".


Leonard Cohen 'will still play Tel Aviv' after collapse

By Jessica Elgot, September 21, 2009
Leonard Cohen, who collapsed from suspected food poisoning, has left hospital to continue his tour in Spain.

The singer, 75, collapsed during a rendition of Bird on the Wire at a concert in Valencia and was rushed to hospital by ambulance.

He spent the night at the Hospital 9 de October but left hospital to continue his tour to Barcelona.

Mr Cohen is scheduled play a concert in Tel Aviv later this week, and his Israeli promoter has confirmed the show will go ahead.


Obama to meet Abbas and Netanyahu

By Jessica Elgot, September 21, 2009

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are set to meet US President Barack Obama separately in New York this week, with a trilateral meeting likely.

Mr Obama is expected to meet Mr Netanyahu and Mr Abbas individually before chairing a joint session.

If the meeting goes ahead, the three leaders are likely to meet at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York, where Mr Obama is staying for the meeting of the UN general assembly.

Israeli commentators denounced the meeting as a "photo opportunity" and said it would be wholly symbolic.


Ahmadinejad: 'Iran's duty to confront Israel'

By Jessica Elgot, September 18, 2009

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has told Iranians that the Holocaust is a "lie", and that confronting Israel was an Iranian's "national and religious duty".

Speaking at the anti-Israel Quds Day rally at Tehran University, Mr Ahmadinejad said: "The Holocaust is a pretext for the creation of the Zionist regime and is false. It is a lie based on an unprovable and mythical claim. “


No pensions for Chernobyl workers in Israel

By Edward Doks, Ukraine, September 18, 2009

Israel’s immigration minister, Sofa Landver, ended a visit to the Ukraine this week without managing to settle the contentious issue of pensions for immigrants to Israel.

Unlike Russians living in Israel, who receive their full pensions from the Russian government, Ukrainian olim do not receive any funds. This includes a large number of men who took part in the cleanup of the Chernobyl nuclear plant after the reactor accident in 1996 and suffer from ill health as a result.


Jews lobby for Iran sanctions

By Hilary Krieger, September 18, 2009

American Jewish organisations are intensifying their calls for the US Congress to enact strict sanctions on Iran, as Tehran continues to make progress on its nuclear programme.

Their activism comes amidst signs that the US might be getting more serious about sanctions. But they might find that the hardest opposition comes from Europeans, whose companies will be hurt by the measures.

Congress proposed sanctions legislation in the spring but did not attempt to enact it in order to give the new US administration time to see if diplomacy could work.


Ancient shuls are exposed

By Sami Kohen, Istanbul, September 18, 2009

Archaeologists have uncovered two of the world’s oldest synagogues.

In Israel, a synagogue from the Second Temple period was discovered at a site slated for the construction of a hotel on the shore of the Kinneret.

It is only the seventh synagogue in the world that is known to date back that far.

The main hall of synagogue is around 120 sq m in area and its stone benches, which served as seats for the worshippers, were built up against the walls of the hall.