Anshel Pfeffer

US realised settlement freeze was wrong tactic

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 6, 2011

The Israeli government was prepared to extend the settlement freeze by three months but the American administration decided at the last moment to change course, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said this week.

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Debate over death of Palestinian woman in Bil'in

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 6, 2011

A Furious debate has broken out in Israel and across the blogosphere over what caused the death of a 36-year-old Palestinian woman over the weekend.

The villagers of Bil'in in the West Bank claim Jawaher Abu Rahme was suffocated by tear-gas shot, by Israelis soldiers. The IDF maintain she died of an illness that she was already suffering from.

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Ex-president Katzav guilty of rape

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 30, 2010

Israel was shocked this morning as former president, Moshe Katzav was found guilty of two counts of rape, one of an obscene act, one of sexual harassment and of attempting to subvert the course of justice.

The Tel-Aviv District Court, headed by Judge George Kara, upheld the claims of three un-named women who had worked in Mr Katzav's office when he served as president and previously as tourism minister. The court's verdict was total and devastating, rejecting the defence's claims and describing the former president's version as "riddled with lies."

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Hamas loads the launchers once again

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 29, 2010

Hamas has escalated its rocket attacks from Gaza, two years after Operation Cast Lead. But Israeli officials believe that the movement is not interested in a return to open hostilities and is, for now, "testing the limits".

Before this month and since the end of the Gaza conflict two years ago, Hamas had refrained from taking part in the attacks against Israeli patrols on the border and from carrying out missile launches against Israeli towns and kibbutzim.

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WikiLeaks set to turn on Israel

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 29, 2010

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has promised that future documents to be published from the trove of leaked American diplomatic cables, will shed light on operations of the Mossad and Israel's Second Lebanon War in 2006.

According to Mr Assange, in an interview with Al-Jazeera, of the 3,700 cables - out of the 260,000 in WikiLeaks' possession - that deal with Israel, three quarters were sent by the American Embassy in Tel-Aviv.

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Archaeological find may change story of mankind

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 29, 2010

Archaeological finds in central Israel could challenge the accepted version of the evolution of modern humans and place the origin of mankind in the Holy Land.

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Scandal clouds top cop appointment

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 22, 2010

The appointment of a new national chief of police has failed to bring calm to the scandal-prone force.

Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch announced on Sunday that he was appointing the commander of the Police's Southern District, Yochanan Danino, as the next Commissioner General of the Police, instead of Dudi Cohen, who will retire in May 2011.

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Orthodox get IDF exemption

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 22, 2010

A series of reforms of yeshivah students' stipends and the announcement of their exemption from army service have become the subject of a coalition disagreement and a rift between the government and the IDF.

The cabinet voted on Sunday 14-8 in favour of a plan formulated by the Prime Minister's Office to continue paying stipends to yeshivah students for another five years, gradually cutting off the payments when they reach the age of 29.

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Oil sparks new Israel-Turkey crisis

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 22, 2010

A new agreement on exploration rights at sea between Israel and Cyprus has once again pushed Israel's relationship with Turkey into a diplomatic crisis. Meanwhile, the talks to end the impasse over Israel's apology for the incident of the Gaza flotilla have bogged down.

Three weeks ago, Turkey's willingness to help Israel fight the blaze on Mount Carmel, signalled by sending two fire-fighting aircraft to battle the flames, gave hope that the stormy relations between the two nations - not long ago strategic allies - could be on the mend.

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Stab victim 'could not wait to make aliyah'

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 22, 2010

Mystery still surrounds the circumstances of the stabbing in the Jerusalem Hills on Saturday in which an American tourist was murdered and a British immigrant to Israel wounded.

Kristine Luken, a Christian Messianic pilgrim from the United States, was walking with her friend Susan Wilson, a tour guide who made aliyah from Britain, near the Hirbet Hanut archaeological site south-west of Jerusalem on Saturday afternoon, when they were accosted by "two young Arab men".

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Israel fears EU push to upgrade ties with Palestinians

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 22, 2010

Israeli diplomatic representatives in Europe have been directed to try to block plans in ten European countries, including Britain, to boost diplomatic relations with the Palestinian Authority. The Israeli concern is that the upgrade will be a step towards full recognition of a unilateral Palestinian declaration of an independent state.

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Blaze devastated our service, says Manchester-raised head of prisons

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 16, 2010

The Prisons Service is not usually the most prominent of security agencies in Israel.

But it came well and truly into the spotlight after the blaze on Mount Carmel killed 37 of its members, including cadets and instructors on a select officers' course.

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Peace talksgo back to the drawing board

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 16, 2010

Following its failure to secure a second settlement freeze, the Obama administration is now pushing for indirect talks over the "core" issues between Israel and the Palestinians.

The senior US negotiator George Mitchell resumed the "shuttle diplomacy" between Jerusalem and Ramallah this week, after four fruitless months spent trying to enable direct talks.

Mr Mitchell and the Prime Minister met for over three hours on Monday in a meeting that, according to Israeli sources, was mainly dedicated to "working out a new procedure for the negotiations with the Palestinians".

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This could be the end of Netanyahu's coalition

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 16, 2010

The press was invited on Wednesday afternoon to cover a meeting between Binyamin Netanyahu and IDF soldiers undergoing a military conversion course. An hour before the reception, the Prime Minister's Office changed its mind: the event would be closed to the media.

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Conversions cause political storm

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 16, 2010

The Knesset voted unanimously on Wednesday in favour of a law affirming the conversions carried out by the IDF's rabbinate, despite warnings by the Charedi parties of a political crisis.

The Shas leader, Interior Minister Eli Yishai, said following the vote that: "If the law goes ahead, we will consider leaving the coalition".

Shas and United Torah Judaism both oppose the law which will give conversions performed in the IDF the same status as those carried out by the civilian conversion courts of the Chief Rabbinate.

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Mobile crash could be cyber attack

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 9, 2010

The reasons for a software breakdown which resulted in no service for millions of Israeli mobile phone users last week are still unclear. Computer experts are worried that this could have been a successful trial run ofa cyber attack against Israel.

Cellcom, the largest mobile phone provider in Israel, experienced last Wednesday what the company described as a "failure in the heart of our system". For over 12 hours, most of the company's 3.3 million users were without service but, despite resuming normal operations, the company has been silent as to the causes.

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Lebanon crisis may be averted

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 9, 2010

Israeli intelligence believes that serious turmoil can be avoided in Lebanon by a toning down of the results of the Special Tribunal investigating the assassination of the Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Central operatives of Hizbollah are expected to be indicted by the tribunal and Hizbollah's leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, has issued dire warnings that "political upheaval" would result from such accusations.

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Peace talks are failing and it's Obama's fault

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 9, 2010

Two weeks ago we were prophesying that a deal on a second freeze of settlement building and a return to direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority was a matter of days away. But on Tuesday, the White House unofficially admitted that there was no hope for a settlement moratorium and that it would return to pursuing peace through indirect talks between the sides.

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Turkish aid for forest fire brings diplomatic thaw

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 9, 2010

The aid sent by the Turkish government to help fight the blaze on Mount Carmel offered an opportunity to improve the relations between the two countries.

In the wake of the fire, discussions took place this week over an Israeli apology for the Gaza flotilla incident and compensations to the families of nine Turkish citizens killed by Israeli naval commandos.

On Friday, Turkey sent two firefighting planes to take part in the international effort to end the fire on the Carmel at the request of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

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Israel's leaders must accept some blame for fire

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 9, 2010

Binyamin Netanyahu can arguably be said to have come out well from the first national emergency of his second premiership.

Indeed, his decision to call it
a "national emergency" - at one stage he even used the word "international" - contributed to the marshalling of resources necessary to put the fire out, four days and 42 deaths after it was ignited.

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