Anshel Pfeffer

Analysis: Shoot-out in Lebanon is an ominous sign

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 5, 2010

The short but very sharp battle on the Lebanese border on Tuesday which took the lives of an Israeli battalion commander, three Lebanese soldiers and one reporter, may turn out to be an isolated incident. By evening, calm had returned to Israel's north, but it is a worrying indication of the state of affairs in the land ofthe cedars.

The direct fire at the Israeli command post, during a routine maintenance operation across the border fence but well within Israeli territory, was at the orders of a low-level officer, but it is still unclear whether he was acting on his own initiative.

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Analysis: This time, ignoring the council is right

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 29, 2010

A year-and-a-half ago, in the aftermath of Operation Cast Lead, the United Nations Human Rights Council announced that it was setting up a fact-finding commission to investigate claims of human rights abuse and war crimes.

The commission's chairman, one of the most respected members of the South African Jewish community and a committed Zionist, begged senior Israeli ministers to cooperate with him, but Prime Minister Ehud Olmert refused. The result was the damning Goldstone Report, which has continued to haunt Israel and especially the IDF for almost a year now.

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Israel to boycott UN Gaza flotilla inquiry

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 29, 2010

The Israeli government will not cooperate with the latest commission set up by the United Nations Human Rights Council to investigate Israel's conduct during the Gaza flotilla affair two months ago.

Despite no official statement being made by the government, senior officials all confirmed that there was no way Israel would confer legitimacy on the UNHRC, widely seen as a forum designed solely for attacking Israel. One official said that "we are not going to even grace them with an official statement. They are totally irrelevant".

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Israel clamps down on violent settlers

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 29, 2010

ISraeli law enforcement agencies have begun a new crackdown on what it believes are "violent and inciteful elements" amongst extreme right-wing settlers.

On Monday, Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira, head of the Od Yosef Chai yeshivah and an influential figure, especially among the younger settlers, was arrested by the police for questioning on allegations of "severe incitement".

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Loyalty oath bill ‘provokes Arab citizens’

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 22, 2010

The Israeli cabinet is split over a demand to make all new citizens pledge allegiance to the "Jewish and democratic" character of the state of Israel.

There is no formal pledge of allegiance today in Israeli law. Native-born Israelis do not have to make any kind of commitment as a condition for citizenship and neither do immigrants of Jewish descent who become Israeli by the Law of Return.

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Israel may lift bar on entering West Bank

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 22, 2010

The IDF is considering lifting the ban on Israelis entering Palestinian cities in the West Bank for the first time in a decade.

The ban was originally imposed a few months after the second intifada began in late 2000, after a number of Israelis who had entered the cities of the West Bank were murdered by terror groups.

Since then, roadblocks at the entrances to all the cities prevent Israelis from entering. Palestinian police who find Israelis in those cities without an official permit arrest them and escort them out to the roadblocks.

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Analysis: Lieberman wants Netanyahu's job

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 22, 2010

Binyamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman have a lot in common.

Both are shrewd and cynical political operators who, despite all they have done, are still treated by the old Israeli elite as outsiders. Both are regarded by the international media as dangerous hardliners. Neither let any of that stand in their way in their struggle to reach the top. And both made millions in the short breaks they took from their meteoric political careers.

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Tension between Netanyahu and Lieberman

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 22, 2010

A late-night meeting between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has ended what is being seen as the coalition government's most serious crisis to date. However, the tension between the two is far from over.

Following a weekend of angry statements from Mr Lieberman and his party colleagues regarding the failure of the prime minister to honour his coalition commitments, the pair met on Monday for two hours and emerged promising to continue their partnership and improve co-operation.

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Maverick rabbi stirred religious left

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 15, 2010

Rabbi Yehuda Amital, who died last Friday in Jerusalem, could have been one of the most significant religious leaders of his generation. But by embracing left-wing positions on the Israeli-Palestinian question and trying to represent a voice of religious moderation, he chose a lonelier path.

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Analysis: Not quite a whitewash, but close

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 15, 2010

The Eiland report held few surprises. One does not have to be a military expert to understand that only patchy intelligence and faulty planning could have led to a situation where a small group of commandos landed one-by-one into a violent mob holding paint-guns.

So what else is new? The report praised the commandos, saying they used lethal force only when their lives were in danger. But medals for fighters in the field are usually awarded to cover the screw-ups of those who sent them into battle.

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Flotilla mess blamed on 'bad plans'

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 15, 2010

Experts appointed by the military to investigate the IDF operation against the Gaza flotilla found a series of mistakes in the intelligence-gathering and planning stages of the mission.

But they praised the actions of the naval commandos who carried out the May raid on the Mavi Marmara, in which nine Turkish activists were killed.

The team, headed by reserve Major General Giora Eiland, was appointed by Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi a month ago to probe the military aspects of the operation.

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Israel draws up concession list

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 15, 2010

Following the friendly meeting between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama in Washington last week, Mr Netanyahu is putting together a list of gestures to the Palestinians that, he hopes, will convince the Palestinian leadership to enter direct negotiations.

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Analysis: Conversion bill threatens the coalition

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 15, 2010

Across the diaspora, Jews may be preoccupied with issues of conversion. But in Israel, the plight of over 300,000 immigrants from the former Soviet Union who are not recognised as Jews by the Orthodox rabbinate and cannot marry locally has attracted very little attention. Nor has there been much of an outcry against the increasing hold of the Charedi non-Zionist rabbis on the state conversion courts, where they impose their super-stringent demands on every prospective convert.

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Flotilla probe: IDF made intelligence mistakes

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 13, 2010

The team of military experts appointed to investigate the IDF operation against the Gaza flotilla found a series of mistakes in the intelligence-gathering and planning stages of the mission.

However, they praised the actions of the naval commandos who carried out the May raid on the Mavi Marmara, in which nine Turkish activists were killed.

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Eilat buckles under pressure of illegal African migrants

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 8, 2010

Eilat is struggling to deal with an influx of illegal immigrants from Africa, who now form some 10 per cent of the holiday town's population.

Hundreds of Africans, mainly from Sudan but also from Eritrea, Somalia, Ivory Coast and Ghana, cross over the Israel-Egypt border every month. Most try to reach Tel-Aviv, but many remain down south and gravitate either to the Negev city of Arad, or to Eilat.

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Lebanon uncovers more Israeli 'spies'

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 8, 2010

The capture of another group of alleged "Israeli spies" in Lebanon indicates the depth of Israel's penetration into the country's infrastructure and upper echelons.

Last week Charbel Qazzi, a senior executive at the Alfa mobile phone company, in charge of transmissions and broadcasting, was arrested on suspicion that he had helped Israeli intelligence plant listening devices at the heart of Lebanon's telecommunications infrastructure. The detention is causing shockwaves that are reverberating throughout the country's business, political and security circles.

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Israeli coalition hit by secret Turkish meetings

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 8, 2010

A meeting between Israeli and Turkish ministers last week, intended to be secret, seems to have done nothing to improve the countries' rocky relations, instead causing at least two crises within Binyamin Netanyahu's coalition.

Trade and Industry Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer has close ties with politicians in many Muslim countries and has undertaken delicate diplomatic missions in the past. Following the breakdown of Israel's relationship with the Erdogan administration after the Gaza flotilla incident last month, Mr Ben-Eliezer tried to use back channels to mend fences.

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Analysis: Obama and Netanyahu smile for the cameras

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 8, 2010

The master of oratory was a bit off-form on Tuesday. President Barack Obama said all the right words at the end of his Oval Office meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, but his heart obviously was not in it.

He stuttered slightly, repeatedly failed to make eye contact with the camera and almost fluffed his lines. Mr Netanyahu seemed much more at ease, but then he has a lot more practice than the president at glossing over compromise in public.

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Analysis: No end in sight for IDF Gaza probes

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 8, 2010

Eighteen months after Operation Cast Lead in Gaza and there still is no end in sight to the investigations and court proceedings.

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Analysis: Corrupt leaders can't make peace

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 8, 2010

Both Israelis and Palestinians emerged from the failed Camp David talks 10 years ago feeling they had gained the upper hand. PM Ehud Barak and his team were certain that they had finally "unmasked Arafat's real intentions".

They had offered them almost the whole of West Bank, unprecedented rights in Jerusalem and territorial exchanges around Gaza, and Yasir Arafat had said 'no'. Barak thought he was in an unassailable position.

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