Anshel Pfeffer

Nobel winner is expelled from Israel

By Anshel Pfeffer, October 7, 2010

Irish Nobel prize-winner Mairead Corrigan Maguire was expelled from Israel on Tuesday morning after the Supreme Court ruled against an appeal to cancel the deportation order.

Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch recommended that the government allow Ms Maguire to complete the scheduled visit but ruled that since she had entered the country despite knowing that she was banned, the deportation order was legal.

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Analysis: Bibi fights his coalition on settlements

By Anshel Pfeffer, October 7, 2010

"Bibi really has a big dilemma right now,"a prime ministerial aide said this week. "This is probably the most difficult decision of his premiership."

Delaying tactics have become Binyamin Netanyahu's signature move but, this time, his stalling over whether or not to renew the building freeze in the West Bank settlements seems to be a sign of genuine soul-searching.

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Settlement freeze ends, talks teeter on knife edge

By Anshel Pfeffer, September 28, 2010

Israel's version of procrastination is epitomised in the phrase acharei ha-chagim. In other words, "after the High Holy Days", which is when Israelis promise to get things done, start a new diet and generally set their lives in order. This week, acharei ha-chagim also symbolises the next stage of the diplomatic process.

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Revolution in the Israeli army

By Anshel Pfeffer, September 28, 2010

IDF Chief of General Staff Lt-Gen Gabi Ashkenazi is widely credited with putting Israel's military back on an operational footing after the Second Lebanon War. But when he ends his military career in five months' time, he may be remembered for an altogether more profound change in Israeli society.

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Religious party puts up Shabbat pay-wall

By Anshel Pfeffer, September 21, 2010

Interior Minister Eli Yishai has opened a new front in the battle between state and religion by ordering his ministry's website to close down its payment facilities on Shabbat.

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How politics hurt Israel's Rabbi Ovadia Yosef

By Anshel Pfeffer, September 21, 2010

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak received a personal letter last week wishing him good health and thanking him for his involvement in the direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

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Analysis: Olmert wreaks revenge in memoir

By Anshel Pfeffer, September 21, 2010

The current political status of the two Ehuds hardly seems comparable. Defence Minister Ehud Barak was in Washington this week, conferring with senior figures in the Obama administration and then attending more high-level meetings at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, on the other hand, spent most of his week hunkered down with his lawyers, preparing for another series of damning testimonies by a former secretary on his double-billing speaking fees in the ongoing corruption case against him.

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Israel's air space 'not safe enough'

By Anshel Pfeffer, September 16, 2010

A special State Comptroller report has slammed the safety standards at Israel's airports.

The report, by Comptroller Michah Lindenstrauss, blamed the finance and transport ministries and the Israel Airports Authority for underfunding the country's air control infrastructure. It also accused them of allowing Israel's air control system to become understaffed and use antiquated equipment.

The Comptroller found that many of the recommendations included in a wide-ranging security report prepared for the Transport Ministry three years ago had not yet been carried out.

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Analysis: Peace talks? More like high-risk pregnancy

By Anshel Pfeffer, September 16, 2010

Do not buy into the hype being created by the Americans about the first round of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced on Wednesday that the sides have begun discussing the "core issues", but even if that is technically true, talking about the issues is a long way from any agreement.

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Israeli actors to boycott West Bank theatre

By Anshel Pfeffer, September 7, 2010

On November 11, a new cultural centre will open in Ariel, across the Green Line. For many actors and theatre-goers, it will be a moment of truth.

Two weeks ago, 35 actors and dramatists signed an open letter telling the directors of their theatres that they would refuse to act on the stage of the largest Jewish town in Samaria. Since then, the Israeli drama scene has been up in arms, with season-ticket holders cancelling their subscriptions, counter-petitions flying around and politicians threatening to withhold funding.

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Analysis: Bibi changed. He really does want a deal

By Anshel Pfeffer, September 7, 2010

On the surface nothing significant has changed. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, in Washington, stuck to his proven tactic of giving nothing away until he absolutely has to.

President Mahmoud Abbas brought up all the old Palestinian demands, including the right of return. The gulf between the two sides seems as wide as ever. Meanwhile, building in the settlements is set to resume in only two weeks and blow up talks that have barely resumed.

But something has changed.

Israelis who returned from the Washington summit have shed their outer layer of cynicism.

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Is this just the start?

By Anshel Pfeffer, September 2, 2010

The murder of four residents of the Beit Hagai settlement on the dark, winding road from Hebron was almost expected - as was the settlers' reaction.

Just two days earlier, the IDF Chief of General Staff, Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi, had met the commanders of the Judea and Samaria Division and warned them to be on the look-out for attempts to disrupt the opening of the direct peace talks in Washington.

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Obama to visit Israel in 2011

By Anshel Pfeffer, September 2, 2010

President Barack Obama will visit Israel and the Palestinian Authority in a few months' time if the peace process continues, according to White House officials.

Mr Obama has been criticised by Americans and Israelis for not addressing both sides of the conflict directly during the first 18 months of his presidency. The president visited the region early in his term for a much-publicised speech in Cairo, but pointedly left Israel off his itinerary.

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Analysis: Bibi's peace plan? Who knows…

By Anshel Pfeffer, September 2, 2010

Binyamin Netanyahu will try to manage the direct talks with the Palestinians in exactly the same way he ran the long period of preparation in the run up to them - bit by bit, without giving anything away until the very last moment he has to.

The Israeli prime minister is meeting the Palestinian president this weekend in Washington, under the auspices of President Barack Obama, without any details of his peace plan - if he even has one - becoming known.

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Analysis: The best bet for Israel is still sabotage, not an air attack

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 26, 2010

The much-heralded "switching on" of the Iranian nuclear reactor in Bushehr does not mean that an Israeli or American military attack is any nearer.

Despite some alarmist warnings, especially by former American ambassador the United Nations, John Bolton, this is not any sort of "point of no return". With close inspection by the IAEA and the Russian government, the light-water reactor won't give the Iranians the much-sought-after key to the nuclear power clubhouse.

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New IDF chief Galant is 'a natural leader'

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 26, 2010

There has never been an IDF Chief of General Staff from the navy and that is no coincidence. The Israeli navy may be known as the Senior Service but, in the IDF, it has always been the poor and underfunded cousin.

But within the close-knit family of naval commandos, Yoav Galant was a legend, dating back to his days as a young officer on raids on the Lebanese coast in the late 1970s. His physical strength and natural leadership skills gained the respect of his soldiers but also of his commanders.

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Comment: New IDF chief choice is highly political

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 26, 2010

Defence Minister Ehud Barak did not lose a moment. Last Thursday night, the police confirmed that none of the members of the IDF General Staff are suspected of writing the "Galant memo" - an apparently forged document setting out Maj Gen Yoav Galant's aggressive strategy for becoming the next chief-of-staff - and Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein informed him that he could legally appoint a new Chief of General Staff (CGS).

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Germany frees Mossad agent

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 20, 2010

The Israeli agent arrested two months ago in connection with the alleged assassination of senior Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in January, was released over the weekend and returned to Israel.

The man known as Uri Brodsky was arrested two months ago in Poland, on a German EU-wide arrest warrant.

Brodsky was arrested on charges that a year earlier he had helped another man receive a German passport in the name of Michael Bodenheimer. The passport was used by the team who, according to Dubai police, carried out Al-Mabhouh's assassination.

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Analysis: No Abu Ghraib photoshoot, but we should all be very concerned

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 19, 2010

The Facebook photos of former IDF Sergeant Eden Abergil's army days drew an inevitable, though ridiculous, comparison this week with the depraved scenes of sexual abuse and torture carried out by American soldiers in Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison.

But in many ways, the images of Abergil posing, smiling, with arrested Palestinian civilians bound and blindfolded in the close background, poses a more difficult and complex moral challenge for the IDF's commanders.

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Jerusalem prepares for Pop Idol clashes

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 19, 2010

Major clashes are expected next month in Jerusalem around the broadcast of the A Star is Born finale from the Sultan's Pool in Jerusalem.

The final of Israel's equivalent to Pop Idol is scheduled for Saturday night and strictly Orthodox rabbis object to it for fear that the preparations for the broadcast will take place on Shabbat, and that the heavy traffic expected will block the road for those planning to get to the Western Wall for the first night of selichot (penitential prayers said before the High Holy Days).

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