Anshel Pfeffer

Obama to Israel: ‘We stand together’

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 21, 2013

He was barely off the plane before he ticked all the necessary boxes.

Right from the start, Mr Obama spoke about the connection between the modern state of Israel and the Jewish people who lived in the same land “more than 3,000 years ago”. This was not just an opening pleasantry.

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Peres’s diplomatic Euro-tour de force

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 14, 2013

To judge from the standing ovation that President Shimon Peres received following his speech on Tuesday morning to the European Parliament in Strasbourg — the first such speech by an Israeli head of state — you would think that Israel was the most favoured nation in the EU. As it was, Mr Peres did not spare his listeners from criticism.

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Wobbles ahead of Barack Obama's Israel trip

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 14, 2013

last-minute itinerary changes have played havoc with Israeli preparations for President Barack Obama’s planned 48-hour trip to the Holy Land from March 20-21.

Before the election of Argentinian Pope Francis I on Wednesday night, there had been speculation that Mr Obama might have had to interrupt his visit and attend the installation ceremony if an American pontiff had been chosen.

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Livni ‘helped foil Abbas peace deal’

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 14, 2013

Former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni urged Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2008 not to sign a peace agreement that Mr Abbas had formulated together with the then Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

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Disquiet over Italy’s rising political star

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 14, 2013

The Israeli government is planning to try to engage with members of the new power in Italian politics, the Five Star Movement (5SM), while trying to avoid its leader, Beppe Grillo.

5SM was the surprise of the Italian elections three weeks ago when it succeeded in capturing 25.5 per cent of votes for the Chamber of Deputies and 23.8 per cent for the Senate.

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Top three cabinet posts to change hands

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 14, 2013

All three top ministers in the Israeli cabinet below the Prime Minister — defence, finance and foreign affairs — are about to change. What does this mean for Israeli policy in the coming years?

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Relief over choice of new pope

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 14, 2013

Vatican watchers in Israel’s Foreign Ministry and in the headquarters of Jewish organisations heaved a sigh of relief on Wednesday evening when they learnt that Cardinal Jorge Maria Bergoglio had just been elected Pope Francis I.

As potential pontiffs go, Cardinal Bergoglio was about the best they could have hoped for.

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Charedim out as ground-shaking deal is brokered

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 14, 2013

It came down to the wire but at the last moment, a coalition has almost certainly been formed in Israel, five weeks after Benjamin Netanyahu was first called to President Shimon Peres and nearly two months after the elections.

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New ‘Palestinian’ bus lines cause human rights row

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 7, 2013

Segregation, security and customer service have all been blurred in this week’s flurry of reports over the new separate bus services into Israel for West Bank Palestinian workers.

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Key witness death rocks Olmert trial

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 7, 2013

The death of the main witness in ex-prime minister Ehud Olmert’s ‘Holyland’ trial is expected to have an impact on legal proceedings, even though the prosecution insists that the case will continue.

Mr Olmert is accused of accepting millions of shekels in bribes in return for approving a massive expansion of the Holyland housing project in Jerusalem.

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Syrian long-range missile base taken by jihadists

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 7, 2013

Rebel forces in Syria have made significant gains over the past few days, capturing additional towns and military bases from the army still loyal to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Jihadist militias thought be aligned with Al-Qaeda have taken control of Scud missile bases in the north-eastern province of Dier ez-Zor.

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Haggling at fever pitch as Bibi seeks coalition

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 7, 2013

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has one week left to form a government and, although the outlines of the new coalition are now becoming clear, he still has major differences with his two main future partners, Yesh Atid and Habayit Hayehudi.

Last Saturday, Mr Netanyahu received a two-week extension from President Shimon Peres in which to build a coalition.

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Bibi nears deal with Bennett and Yesh Atid

By Anshel Pfeffer, February 28, 2013

Likud-Beiteinu negotiators achieved a breakthrough this week in discussions with the religious-right party Habayit Hayehudi — and were due to re-enter talks with the centre-right Yesh Atid on Thursday.

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Two guesses why Azerbaijan loves Israel

By Anshel Pfeffer, February 28, 2013

The leaders of Azerbaijan believed that hosting the Eurovision song contest last year would transform their international image — only to become the focus of unwelcome attention from human rights organisations and critical coverage by the Western media.

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Barack Obama to speak ‘directly to Israeli people’

By Anshel Pfeffer, February 21, 2013

President Barack Obama’s whirlwind visit to Israel next month will be full of symbolism and pomp — but there is little expectation that the trip will yield any diplomatic substance.

The president, however, is expected to “directly” address the Israeli nation.

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Muslim Brotherhood forces out top Egyptian news editor

By Anshel Pfeffer, February 21, 2013

Al-Ahram, Egypt’s largest media publishing company, had long been considered the official voice of Egypt’s ruling class. Over the last two years, however, following the toppling of former president Hosni Mubarak, the newspaper seemed to be gaining a greater degree of independence and, with it, a newfound level of authority.

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Tzipi Livni’s return divides opinion

By Anshel Pfeffer, February 21, 2013

Tzipi Livni’s imminent appointment — providing Benjamin Netanyahu can form a coalition — as minister in charge of negotiations with the Palestinians hardly means that peace is about to break out. For a start, a strategy for talks is yet to be agreed.

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Lonely Netanyahu seeks stable coalition partner

By Anshel Pfeffer, February 21, 2013

The leaders of both of Likud’s largest potential coalition partners have said that talks have ground to a virtual standstill.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces his own problems as his effective number two, Avigdor Lieberman, starts a lengthy fraud trial.

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Israeli parties squabble over plum coalition jobs

By Anshel Pfeffer, February 14, 2013

Talks between Likud Beiteinu and the two main potential coalition partners — Yesh Atid and Habayit Hayehudi — were bogged down this week over disagreement between the sides on the new government’s policies and ministerial appointments.

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Space-ape, the fake jet and one mad astronaut

By Anshel Pfeffer, February 7, 2013

Hollow boasts of Iran’s technological prowess in recent days have placed a question mark over the Islamic Republic’s true capabilities.

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