Anshel Pfeffer

Analysis: Flotilla probe set up to satisfy world

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 17, 2010

The commission of inquiry into the flotilla set up this week by Israel may be called the Turkel Commission after its head, Judge Jacob Turkel, but the man whose name it really should carry is Richard Goldstone.

The only reason Binyamin Netanyahu caved in to demands to set up an inquiry is the fear of another hostile international commission, like the one set up by the UN after Operation Cast Lead last year.

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Soldier faces charges over Cast Lead

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 17, 2010

The IDF's Military Advocate General, Major General Avichai Mendelblit, will hold a hearing next week for a soldier suspected of double manslaughter in last year's Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.

The solider allegedly shot and killed two Palestinian women who were in a group of civilians holding white flags. This is the third and most serious case in which charges are being brought against soldiers involved in the operation.

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Analysis: Lebanon War lessons were totally ignored

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 10, 2010

When the commission of enquiry into the botched raid finally gets down to work, they should start by reading a three-year-old document. The Winograd Commission report, written in the wake of the Second Lebanon War four years ago, has no direct connection with the clash off the coast of Gaza, but all it had to say regarding the decision-making process of Israel's political and military leadership is relevant to the current crisis.

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Israel to announce its own inquiry into flotilla

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 10, 2010

The Israeli cabinet is expected to appoint a committee of inquiry into the Gaza flotilla operation on Sunday.

The current plan is to a form a committee with a limited mandate which will not question soldiers who took part in the operation. The inclusion of international observers on the committee is still under consideration.

The IDF has already set up its own committee of military experts to investigate the operational aspects of the boarding of the flotilla.

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Killed flotilla passengers belonged to radical Islamist group

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 10, 2010

Most of the nine men killed on board the Turkish ferry Mavi Marmara were members of Islamic movements, it has now emerged.

The majority belonged to Insan Hak ve Hurriyetleri, the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief, or IHH. The Turkish Islamist movement has ties to Hamas and al Qaida and financed and organised the ferry's trip.

Israel claims that many of the other passengers on the ferry had links to terrorist groups as well.

IDF officers who were involved in last week's operation say there were two groups of passengers.

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Israel and Egypt: the new allies

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 10, 2010

The fallout from the Gaza flotilla and the emergence of Turkey as a clear ally of Iran and Syria and all but an official enemy of Israel, is part of a radically changing balance of power in the region, one that is seeing unprecedented levels of cooperation between Israel and Egypt.

Senior Israeli officials have been saying in recent months that Egypt has been pursuing two seemingly opposite courses in its relationship with Israel.

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Turkey and Israel relations in crisis after flotilla

By Anshel Pfeffer and Sami Kohen, Istanbul, June 3, 2010

The Gaza flotilla affair has plunged the crisis in the Israel-Turkey relationship to new lows and added impetus to Israeli efforts to find alternative allies in the region.

Israeli diplomats admitted this week that the relationship with the Ankara government has never been this bad.

"If we thought that Prime Minister Erdogan could not make things any worse," said one diplomat, "his support for the flotilla and his attacks on us this week have made it clear that there is no longer any strategic alliance between the two countries. At least, not while he is in power."

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Analysis: Salvaging the wreckage

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 3, 2010

In the aftermath of the disastrous raid on the Gaza flotilla, the Israeli leadership is scrambling to prevent two specific developments. The first is a re-run of the Goldstone Commission that produced a damaging report on Israel's conduct in Operation Cast Lead last year. Few Israelis imagine that another report commissioned by the United Nation's Human Rights Council would be any kinder to their country.

The other major concern is a campaign of international pressure on Israel to remove the blockade of Gaza at a disadvantageous moment.

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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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