Anshel Pfeffer

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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Analysis: Secular and religious Jews are not at war

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 24, 2010

The 100,000-strong demonstration last Thursday supporting the fathers about to go to jail has been billed as the ultimate showdown between the secular state and the strictly Orthodox community.

Feelings have been inflamed for a while. The media and politicians have been ramping up the debate over the role of the Charedi sector for several months, following a number of reports on the community's growing share of the younger population and its lack of contribution to the national economy.

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Rabbi's rebel son is behind race lawsuit

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 24, 2010

The identity of the Charedi rabbi who gave his blessing to the controversial petition to the Supreme Court surprised no one.

Rabbi Yaakov Yosef has long made a name for himself in challenging not only the norms of his community, but also the wishes of his father, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the most influential Sephardi rabbi of this generation and spiritual leader of the Shas political party.

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Mothers to go to jail in school race case

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 24, 2010

The crisis surrounding the segregated Beit Yaakov school in Emanuel seems set to continue with a new Supreme Court ruling ordering that the mothers of some of the pupils be sent to prison.

Thirty five fathers of girls at the strictly Orthodox school were jailed last Thursday for two weeks for contempt of court, after they refused to allow their daughters in the mainly Ashkenazi "Chasidic stream" to study with girls in the mainly Sephardi "general stream".

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Israel eases blockade of Gaza Strip

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 24, 2010

The Israeli cabinet has agreed to ease the blockade on Gaza and allow all foodstuffs and building materials into the Strip. At the same time, the naval blockade will stay in place and the IDF is preparing to stop further flotillas from reaching Gaza.

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Israel's UK ambassador tipped for UN post

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 24, 2010

Israel's ambassador to London, Ron Prosor, is being considered for the post of temporary ambassador to the United Nations.

The UN post is considered one of the key diplomatic jobs. Often the position goes to a political appointee rather than a career diplomat. The current ambassador, Prof Gavriella Shalev, was appointed by former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. The government is determined to replace her by the time her two-year term ends in August.

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Parents jailed over school race row

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 17, 2010

Seventy four strictly Orthodox couples have decided to go to prison for two weeks rather than disobey their rabbis and send their daughters to school with Sephardim.

The Supreme Court's decision to jail the parents was the culmination of 18 months of proceedings. Charedi social activists petitioned the court last February after the Beit Yaakov School in the town of Emanuel was effectively divided between a predominantly Ashkenazi "Chasidic stream" and a mainly Sephardi "general stream".

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'Mossad spy' is arrested

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 17, 2010

An Israeli citizen has been arrested in Warsaw on charges that he fraudulently obtained a German passport that was used by one of the alleged assassins of Hamas operative Mahmoud al Mabhouh in Dubai five months ago.

Uri Brodsky is currently awaiting extradition to Germany.

He was arrested at Warsaw Airport three weeks ago on a Europe-wide arrest warrant issued by the German federal authorities.

Mr Brodsky is suspected of using a false identity to obtain a German passport last year in the name of Michael Bodenheimer, an Israeli citizen who was unaware of his identity being stolen.

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