Anshel Pfeffer

Analysis: Israel left reeling from US-British attacks

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 25, 2010

The day after David Miliband announced that an Israeli diplomat would be expelled from Britain, British Ambassador Tom Phillips made the rounds in Jerusalem trying to promise that the ties between the two countries, especially those regarding intelligence, would remain strong.

The same could be heard from Israeli sources: this was regrettable, but the British did what they had to. It could have been worse.

That is true. The Foreign Office has not named and shamed the Mossad representative in London, who is being given time to leave in an orderly fashion, after Pesach.

More..

Israeli TV star set to run for Knesset

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 25, 2010

For once, elections in Israel are not even on the horizon. By law the country will not have to go to the polls for another three years and a coalition crisis is not even on the cards.

Even if Binyamin Netanyahu's current right-wing partners turn against him, he can still join forces with Kadima and form a new centrist coalition.

Still, this relatively stable political landscape has not stopped the Israeli media and parliament feverishly speculating about a political upheaval: the emergence of a force that may rearrange the balance of power in the Knesset.

More..

Israeli hospital A&E moved due to ancient graves

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 25, 2010

Binyamin Netanyahu was forced to take time out from his Washington trip this week to order a review of a government decision to relocate a new emergency ward planned for an Ashkelon hospital, at a cost of NIS 136 million (£24 million).

More..

Analysis: Sick Mubarak setting up son as successor

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 18, 2010

Egyptian television showed footage of President Hosni Mubarak in a German hospital following an operation on Tuesday, to scotch rumours that he was dying.

Mr Mubarak is recovering from a successful operation to remove benign cists from his gallbladder. Israeli experts believe that after his return, the president will intensify efforts to ensure his son's succession.

More..

Ashkenazim-only school 'illegal'

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 18, 2010

The Israeli Education Ministry has stepped up its campaign against schools that segregate Ashkenazi and Sephardi pupils.

This week, the ministry ordered the closure of a school that had been set up three months ago to cater for 74 Ashkenazi girls in the strictly Orthodox town of Emanuel in the West Bank.

Their parents had taken them out of the local Beit Yaakov girls' school after the Supreme Court ruled that the separate classes in the school for Ashkenazi and Sephardi girls were illegal.

More..

Israel's Defence prepares for future attacks

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 18, 2010

The Israeli defence establishment is beefing up its preparations for extensive missile attacks on its towns and military bases in case of war.

At a special meeting chaired by the Prime Minister, the chiefs of the military and emergency services presented the latest civil defence readiness plans.

The exact details of the threat assessments are classified but it is expected that in a war between Israel and its neighbours to the north, Syria and Hizbollah in Lebanon, hundreds, perhaps thousands of missiles would rain down on the north and the Tel Aviv area.

More..

Knesset yes to civil marriage

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 18, 2010

The Knesset has authorised civil marriage in Israel for the first time.

The law will allow for only a very limited form of civil marriage, specifically for people whose religious identity is not determined.

The new law, introduced by MK David Rotem of Yisrael Beiteinu, will allow Israeli citizens whose religious status is unclear - usually due to the fact that the Rabbinate does not recognise them as Jews - to marry through a new civil registrar's office.

More..

World's top rabbi celebrates 100th

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 18, 2010

He has never flown in a plane or used a computer, but thanks to the advances in transport and communications that have taken place during the course of his lifetime, Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, who turned 100 this week, is the most influential rabbi in the world.

More..

Security forces: How police limited the Jerusalem riots

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 18, 2010

Security officials believe that they have contained the violence in east Jerusalem and the West Bank.

The last four weeks saw an unprecedented outbreak of rioting, following a decision by the Israeli government to include the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem on a list of national heritage sites.

More..

Analysis: Netnayahu faces US crisis

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 18, 2010

Binyamin Netanyahu is not a natural gambler. He hates making decisions and will use every opportunity to defer and procrastinate. But this week he was handed a clear ultimatum by the White House: make the choice - us or your coalition.

His response: to continue playing for time.

More..

President Peres is turning against Bibi

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 11, 2010

Two or three times a day, Shimon Peres stands in the President's mansion, receiving groups of blushing beauty queens, farmers and international parliamentarians. Each group gets its share of smiles, joint photographs and the standard joke, always some reference to the great man's age.

In the absence of a royal family, only the 86-year-old mega-statesman can lend grandeur to the informality of Israeli official events.

But no one ever expected him to be just a figurehead. The man eternally branded by Yitzhak Rabin as "a tireless schemer" could not stop playing politics even if he tried.

More..

Peace talks derailed by building plan

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 11, 2010

A row over Israeli building in east Jerusalem has caused major embarrassment during the American Vice President's visit to the region.

More..

Charedim attempt to block conversion law

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 11, 2010

A new law on conversion to Judaism could lead to a full-blown coalition crisis in Israel.

The law, presented by Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu, would allow each city's chief rabbi to perform conversions. The Charedi parties are threatening to leave Binyamin Netanyahu's government if the law is passed.

More..

EU chief allowed into Gaza

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 11, 2010

Israel will allow the European Union Foreign Affairs Representative, Baroness Catherine Ashton, and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, to enter the Gaza Strip, in an apparent reversal of policy.

Baroness Ashton will visit next week and Mr Ban in April. Both asked Israel to open the Erez crossing into Gaza for their delegations.

Since Hamas took control of the Strip in 2007, Israel has enforced a ban on visitors. The closure was designed to delegitimise Hamas and help the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority assert its leadership.

More..

Ben Gurion airport hit by new safety fears

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 4, 2010

Just how safe is it to land at Ben Gurion airport? Within the next few weeks, the Israeli State Comptroller will publish a comprehensive report chronicling endemic safety failures in the country's civil aviation.

At the root of the problem is the crowded airspace.

More..

Analysis: Riots in Israel are not an intifada

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 4, 2010

The images of youths throwing stones and border policemen firing tear-gas grenades back at them last week in the alleyways of Hebron and at the entrance to the Temple Mount seemed eerily reminiscent of the two intifadas. But that is all they were: images.

So far, a widespread uprising throughout the territories, coupled with gradually escalating responses by the Israeli security forces, has failed to materialise; the riots seem to be petering out. This is not a third intifada, at least not yet.

More..

Government science advisor rejects evolution

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 4, 2010

The Chief scientific adviser of the Israeli Education Ministry may be forced to resign after he rejected evolution and the connection between human activity and global warming.

Doctor Gabi Avital, an expert in rocket science from the Technion and a veteran Likud Party member, was posted to the education ministry three months ago. Accusations of political cronyism soon followed as in the past the post was held by experts in the field of education.

The adviser's responsibilities include reviewing the national science school curriculum.

More..

Building plans in east Jerusalem on hold

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 4, 2010

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been forced to intervene in Jerusalem's building plans to prevent another diplomatic row with America.

On Tuesday, Mr Netanyahu asked Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat to put on hold his plan to demolish 22 houses in the Silwan neighbourhood of east Jerusalem and build a tourism complex in their place.

Mr Barkat had announced his plan earlier that day at a press conference in City Hall. According to the plan, 22 buildings in Silwan which were built without planning permission will be demolished to make way for a series of parks, hotels and restaurants.

More..

Analysis: Is this the end of Bibi’s coalition?

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 4, 2010

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has become embroiled in another criminal investigation, just when a decision on a possible indictment against him seems imminent.

If he is indicted, Mr Lieberman will have to resign his ministerial post and many coalition insiders believe that his party, Yisrael Beiteinu, will not stay for long in the Netanyahu government. Their departure would almost certainly cause a dramatic change in the coalition's make-up and could lead to the entry of the main opposition party, Kadima, into the government.

More..

'America is blocking the Shalit exchange'

By Anshel Pfeffer, February 25, 2010

The talks over a prisoner deal in which Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit could be released are set to resume over the next few days with the return of the German mediator to the region.
The talks have been frozen for almost two months following Hamas's failure to respond to Israel's latest proposal to release almost 500 Palestinians prisoners, with a quarter of them sent into exile abroad, away from the West Bank. Last week, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said during a visit to Russia that this was Israel's last offer.

More..