Anshel Pfeffer

Gilad Shalit's freedom 'will change the Middle East'

By Anshel Pfeffer, November 26, 2009

It is safe to say that the Gilad Shalit saga is now in its final stretch. Assessments by senior Israeli sources range between a prisoner exchange taking place sometime next week and sometime next month. What is clear is that both sides have reached the point of no return.

Too much is at stake for Israel and Hamas, both on the domestic front and in the international arena. Outside the direct mechanics of the negotiations, both sides made major concessions this week which will go a long way to enabling the deal to go down.

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Shabbat wars erupt over Intel Jerusalem factory

By Anshel Pfeffer, November 19, 2009

Attempts at mediation have failed so far to prevent another round of Shabbat protests in Jerusalem, this time over a high-tech factory working seven days a week.

The Intel plant in Jerusalem’s Har Hotzvim business park has carried out limited work on Shabbat for over three decades. The start of a new manufacturing process, which will greatly increase the work taking place on Shabbat, had sparked calls for renewed protests. It has been two months since the previous Shabbat protests against an open municipal car park petered out.

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Analysis: Why Bibi will not go to Copenhagen

By Anshel Pfeffer, November 19, 2009

Greenpeace Israel held an unusual demonstration outside the prime minister’s office in Jerusalem on Sunday. Dressed as El Al cabin crew, they held aloft a giant boarding card with passenger Binyamin Netanyahu’s name.

They demanded the government put the issues of global warming and protection of the environment higher up its agenda and, as a start, urged Mr Netanyahu to fly to Copenhagen next month for the global climate summit.

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Analysis: PA will not declare independence alone

By Anshel Pfeffer, November 19, 2009

Israeli politicians were up in arms this week over the stated intention of the Palestinian Authority unilaterally to declare an independent state in the near future.

Unilateral steps on the Palestinian side will be met by similar moves from Israel, they ominously warned, hinting at possible annexations of parts of the West Bank, as they did in east Jerusalem after the Six-Day War in 1967. Such a declaration, they promised, would mean an end to any diplomatic process with the Palestinians.

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Call to bar criminals from aliyah

By Anshel Pfeffer, November 12, 2009

The arrests of two alleged killers who were allowed to immigrate to Israel despite previous brushes with the law have strengthened calls for a change in the Law of Return.

Yaakov (Jack) Teitel, who was arrested a month ago by the Shin Bet (Security Service), is suspected of carrying out a long list of terror attacks on Palestinians, left-wing and gay-rights activists, messianic Jews and police, including two murders of Palestinians in 1997. The murders were carried out while Teitel was still an American tourist living on the Kfar Tapuach settlement.

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IDF set to investigate Goldstone Report

By Anshel Pfeffer, November 12, 2009

The IDF has formed an internal commission which will investigate the claims raised in the Goldstone Report over alleged war crimes during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza earlier this year.

While many voices in Israel over recent weeks supported the launch of a judicial commission of inquiry over the Goldstone allegations, the IDF has staunchly resisted “putting the IDF on trial”, insisting that the army’s internal investigations were sufficient.

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Rabbis' dismay as transplant rules change

By Anshel Pfeffer, November 12, 2009

Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman has dismayed the Israeli medical community and many rabbis by announcing that organ transplants are to be allowed only after the donor’s heart has stopped beating.

His decision contradicted a recent agreement between rabbis and doctors that said that transplants could be carried out following brain death.

Mr Litzman, of the United Torah Judaism party, made his position clear in a letter to a medical conference last week.

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Netanyahu 'agrees to settlement freeze' in tense talks with Obama

By Anshel Pfeffer, November 12, 2009

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu tried to put on a brave face following the demonstrably low-key fashion in which he was received on Monday at the White House. However, Israeli officials have admitted that the nature of the meeting was “a reprimand” to the prime minister and that Mr Netanyahu conceded on a number of issues, including the settlement freeze and the release of Palestinian prisoners.

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Swedish journalist defends organ 'blood libel' in Israel

By Anshel Pfeffer, November 5, 2009

The Swedish journalist who accused the IDF of killing Palestinian youths to harvest their organs claimed this week that he never wrote that the Palestinians were intentionally killed for that purpose.

Daniel Bostrom’s report, published two months ago in Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet, caused a diplomatic row between Israel and Sweden. His accusations were linked to the arrest of a Jewish man in New York suspected of illegal organ trafficking. The IDF denied all the allegations.

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Lev Leviev agrees to debt deal

By Anshel Pfeffer, November 5, 2009

Israeli billionaire and Lubavitch philanthropist Lev Leviev has reached an agreement to refinance the loans that his company took out from banks and pension funds in Israel.

Africa-Israel announced two months ago that it would have trouble repaying the loans, which total £1.2 billion. Mr Leviev will pay about ten per cent of the debt from his private funds and be allowed to retain control of the company.

Part of the loans will be repaid in Africa-Israel shares and the rest of the repayments will be spread over the next ten years.

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Analysis: Work of a lone wolf?

By Anshel Pfeffer, November 5, 2009

It is still unclear exactly how many murders settler Ya’akov (Jack) Teitel will eventually be charged with.

So far, the security services say he is to be accused of killing two Palestinians in 1997 and numerous counts of attempted murder, with the dead including Arabs, Christian clergymen, a left-wing professor, gay rights activists, messianic Jews and policemen.

The latest accusations centre on the mysterious double murder of two traffic policemen on a dark night in the Jordan Valley eight months ago, deaths that were originally blamed on Palestinian terror organisations.

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Murder raises questions over Israeli immigration

By Anshel Pfeffer, November 5, 2009

It took the police only six days to crack Israel’s most vicious murder, but despite the arrest of the alleged killer and his detailed confession, the case has raised serious questions about the country’s immigration policy.

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An unsettled alliance

By Anshel Pfeffer and Ben Lynfield, November 5, 2009

Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will travel to Washington next week for a meeting with President Obama in a much friendlier atmosphere than their past two meetings.

The improvement in relations between the White House and Jerusalem came as the Obama Administration took more Israel-friendly positions on the issue of settlements and the Goldstone Report.

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Fears escalate over weapons flow from Iran

By Anshel Pfeffer, November 5, 2009

A missile trial by Hamas last week and a successful seizure of a ship laden with rockets bound for Hizbollah on Wednesday show that the illegal shipments of arms from Iran to terror groups are continuing at full throttle.

On Tuesday, commander of the IDF Intelligence Branch, Major General Amos Yadlin, told a session of the Knesset Foreign and Defence Affairs Committee that Hamas had staged a trial firing of a missile capable of hitting targets 60km away. This would put Tel Aviv and Ben Gurion Airport within Hamas’s range.

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Analysis: How the IDF stalled a Cast Lead inquiry

By Anshel Pfeffer, October 29, 2009

From the moment the Goldstone Report was published a month ago, accusing Israel of war crimes in Gaza, the IDF kept mum.

Reporters who called the IDF Spokesman Unit for a response were given a standard answer: “This is a matter for the Foreign Ministry, don’t ask us.”

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EU lawyers target IDF officers

By Anshel Pfeffer, October 29, 2009

Senior IDF officers have stopped visiting several European countries, including Britain, as a network of human rights lawyers has stepped up efforts to issue arrest warrants against officers suspected of war crimes.

Lawyers in the UK, Holland, Spain and other countries have compiled a list of IDF officers who were in command of Operation Cast Lead in Gaza 10 months ago. According to Daniel Machover of Hickman & Rose in London, his office has been instructed by Palestinians in Gaza to bring charges against officers for alleged war crimes.

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Segregated public buses ruled illegal

By Anshel Pfeffer, October 29, 2009

A special committee has ruled that gender-segregated public buses are illegal, but at the same time will allow the strictly Orthodox community to organise segregated private transport.

The largest transport co-operative, Egged, has about 55 bus lines on which men and women are made to sit separately as a result of strictly Orthodox pressure. Petitions against this to the Supreme Court resulted in a committee appointed by the Transport Ministry.

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Has Barak finally managed to destroy the Labour party?

By Anshel Pfeffer, October 29, 2009

Labour Chair and Defence Minister Ehud Barak added a new title on Monday: Labour parliamentary faction leader. Mr Barak had to assume the position after his last loyal back-bencher announced he was resigning from the post.

MK Daniel Ben-Simon said he was resigning because “Labour has not fulfilled its diplomatic goals and does not belong in the coalition”.

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Financial scandals rock Israeli sports

By Anshel Pfeffer, October 29, 2009

A suicide that was seen last Monday simply as a personal and family tragedy has swiftly developed into a storm engulfing not only Israel’s most successful basketball team, but the entire sporting establishment.

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Will this be Israel’s last Nobel prize?

By Anshel Pfeffer, October 22, 2009

Five Israelis have won Nobel Prizes in various fields of research over the past eight years. Only the United States, Britain and Japan have more Nobel laureates over the same period.

This statistic may make Israel appear to be an academic giant, but many leading professors are convinced that the prizes reflect efforts made many years ago and that with the current level of investment, Professor Ada Yonath’s Chemistry Prize - announced two weeks ago and widely celebrated within Israel - may be the last Nobel an Israeli will receive for many years to come.

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