Anshel Pfeffer

Analysis: Gaza aid deaths: how could it happen?

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 31, 2010

Flotilla 13, the IDF's naval commandos, were the toast of Israel's military - until yesterday. The recipients of a rare citation for the entire unit from Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi, only last month, the "Shayetet" are credited with numerous secret missions far away from the country's shores. According to the non-Israeli press, these missions included interdiction of ships bearing arms from Iran to Israel's enemies in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.

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Dershowitz turns down Israeli ambassador role at the UN

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 27, 2010

Alan Dershowitz has declined a request from Binyamin Netanyahu for the law professor to become Israel's ambassador to the United Nations.

Mr Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman have been searching for an "international media star" to replace the lacklustre Gabriela Shalev, the current ambassador to the UN.

"Netanyahu, who was himself an ambassador to the UN, sees that job as Israel's premier spokesperson abroad," said a senior official at the Foreign Ministry. "That's why he is not interested in appointing a diplomat, but a media performer."

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PA drive to boycott settlement goods

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 27, 2010

Israeli officials are concerned that the Palestinian campaign against buying produce from the settlements will escalate into a larger international boycott on Israeli goods.

In recent weeks, the Palestinian Authority published a booklet with a list of Israeli companies that operate in the West Bank and on the Golan Heights, calling upon its people not to buy their products.

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Israel to make jail harsher for Hamas

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 27, 2010

The Knesset this week passed a first reading of a new law mandating harsher prison conditions for Hamas members.

The measure, which was supported by the government, has been nicknamed the "Shalit Law" in reference to captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit who is being held by Hamas in Gaza.

Proposed by Likud MK Danny Danon, the legislation will allow prison authorities to deny Hamas prisoners rights they have enjoyed until now, including family and conjugal visits, academic studies and watching television.

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Israeli mother who starved child avoids prison

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 21, 2010

The strictly Orthodox woman from Jerusalem who was charged with starving her three-year-old son was convicted of intentionally harming her child in a plea bargain with the prosecution on Monday.

According to the terms of the plea bargain, the mother will not serve any prison time but will spend the next three years under house arrest, following which she will be sentenced by the court.

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Ex-Charedim challenge school system

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 21, 2010

A former education minister, an ex-general and a university president have joined a group of formerly Charedi men in challenging the political arrangement which allows strictly Orthodox schools to receive state funding despite not teaching secular subjects.

For the past five years, the Education Ministry has been trying to make all Israeli schools that are financed by the government teach a set of core subjects - including grammar, mathematics, basic sciences and English - as a condition of funding.

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Analysis: Counter-espionage hard in a free society

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 13, 2010

In the wake of the arrests of Amir Mahoul and Omar Said, Israeli Arabs have accused the government and the security services of political persecution.

The State Prosecutor's Office will indeed have to work hard to prove that the arrests and the attendant secrecy was warranted. If the two are released without indictment, it will be a major embarrassment for the entire justice system. But there is a significant degree of disingenuousness in these accusations.

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Analysis: No point to Israel-Palestine proximity talks

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 13, 2010

In a week's time, American negotiator George Mitchell will return to Jerusalem, meet Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for a couple of hours, and then hop into his car for the short drive to Ramallah and a meeting of similar length with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Everything will be as it has been so many times over the last year, with one difference: this time the meetings will be called "proximity talks".

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Israeli-Arab leaders arrested as spies

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 13, 2010

Two senior Arab-Israeli activists have been arrested on charges of espionage and contacts with Hizbollah.

Their arrests, which took place over the past three weeks, were the subject of a gag-order until it was partially lifted on Monday.

Amir Mahoul, 52, of Haifa and Omar Said, 50, of Kfar Kana are currently being questioned by the General Security Service (the Shabak) and the police's International Investigations Unit.

The two were arrested on charges of serious espionage and contact with a foreign agent who was, according to the Shabak, a member of Hizbollah.

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Olmert faces charges over government jobs

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 6, 2010

State Prosecutors are planning yet another indictment of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Mr Olmert, along with one of his closes aides, will be charged with making dozens of illegal political appointments in government agencies.

He is currently on trial on three charges of fraud and acceptance of illegal payments and is expected to be questioned in the "Holyland" case of alleged bribery for building permits.

He is the main suspect in that case.

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Egypt pushes for nuclear-free region

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 6, 2010

Israeli officials have played down reports that the Obama administration will support an Egyptian plan to force Israel to disclose details of its nuclear arsenal and commit to disarmament, as part of its global strategy to reduce nuclear stockpiles.

There has been no confirmation of this from official administration sources and a very senior Israeli official said that "we have received no signal at all from the Americans on this".

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Analysis: Left's new tactic: attack Charedim

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 6, 2010

New data on the low share of the Charedi community in the Israeli workforce has re-ignited the rift in secular-ultra-Orthodox relations. And while elections are not expected to take place for at least three years, it is already clear that a number of parties will be eager to campaign on this issue.

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'Proximity talks' stall before they begin

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 6, 2010

The Israeli government is concerned that the Palestinian Authority is trying to blame it for the failure of the "proximity talks" before they have even started.

The indirect talks between Israel and the Palestinians were scheduled to begin on Wednesday but despite the arrival in the region of American mediator George Mitchell, the Palestinian Authority had still not agreed to attend the talks at press time.

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Netanyahu gets away with Jerusalem policy

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 29, 2010

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu believes he has turned a corner in his difficult relationship with the American administration and that peace talks are now possible without a commitment to freeze building in east Jerusalem.

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Lag B'Omer bonfires challenged by Chief

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 29, 2010

The ancient custom of lighting bonfires on Lag Ba'Omer is being challenged for both religious and ecological reasons.

The tradition of lighting bonfires on the eve of Lag Ba'Omer, which falls on Sunday, has become a popular custom in Israel, for religious and secular youngsters alike. But the prevalence of the custom, which causes large clouds of thick smoke above most Israeli citiesm, is raising concern amongst rabbis and environmentalists.

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New Israel Fund under attack again

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 22, 2010

The right-wing movement Im Tirzu is stepping up its campaign against the New Israel Fund (NIF) with a new report accusing NIF of funding groups that have tried to prosecute IDF officers for alleged war crimes.

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Olmert faces massive new corruption investigation

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 22, 2010

Police investigators believe that they are close to securing the testimony of a number of close associates of former prime minister Ehud Olmert in what is being described as the largest corruption case in Israeli history.

So far, the allegations against Mr Olmert have focused on millions of shekels in bribes that the investigators believe were paid to secure extensive building rights in the Holyland project in Jerusalem. The suspects include a group of building tycoons and senior officials in Jerusalem City Hall.

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Analysis: Settlers are the next threat to peace

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 22, 2010

On Tuesday, Israel's Independence Day, hundreds of settlers travelled to IDF outposts and took them over. Well, they took over the kitchens and cooked the soldiers barbecue dinners.

But not all was sweetness and light between the army and the settlers. At least in one spot on the West Bank, no one was doing anyone any favours. A clash between security forces and a group of youngsters from Yitzhar left at least two soldiers wounded by stones and a growing number of settlers under threat of arrest.

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US may impose own Middle East peace plan

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 15, 2010

Israeli diplomats are coming round to the idea that the White House could try to impose its own peace plan on the Israelis and Palestinians for the first time in four decades.

In addition to reports by well-sourced correspondents in the American media, there have been a number of signals in recent days that the administration is planning to present its own peace plan. The next visit to the region by US representative George Mitchell has been repeatedly postponed, giving rise to the speculation that President Barack Obama has decided to change tack.

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Analysis: On Iran, at least, Bibi and Obama agree

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 15, 2010

Commentators have been competing with each other to come up with the best superlative to describe the apparent crisis in Israel-American relations, but it has gone almost unnoticed that on one very significant issue, President Barack Obama seems to be closer now to Israel's position that the Bush administration.

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