Anshel Pfeffer

Dead Sea canal put on hold

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 11, 2008

Palestinian and Arab pressure on King Abdullah of Jordan has brought the Dead Sea canal project to a standstill, according to Israeli sources.

The joint Israeli-Jordanian initiative to build a canal from the Red Sea to the rapidly drying Dead Sea with tourism infrastructure on both banks was seen as too much normalisation with Israel.

Environmental groups that had opposed the project claimed it was their opposition that had swayed the leaders’ minds, but the JC has learnt of other forces arrayed against it.

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First grisly stage of prisoner swap begins

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 11, 2008

The IDF Chaplains Corps began exhuming bodies from a special graveyard this week as part of the first stage of the prisoner exchange between Israel and Hizbollah.

For its part, Hizbollah presented their preliminary report on missing IAF navigator Ron Arad, shot down over Lebanon in 1986.

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Bulldozer killer’s home may not be demolished

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 11, 2008

High-ranking IDF officers have advised Defence Minister Ehud Barak not to order the demolition of home of Husam Dwiat, who killed three Israelis last Wednesday in Jerusalem.

Calls for the demolition of the house of Dwiat’s family in the Sur Bahir neighbourhood of East Jerusalem were heard from politicians following the tractor rampage in which Dwiat killed Bat Sheva Unterman, Elizabeth (Lili) Goren and Jean Relevy and wounded more than 50 others, before being shot by an off-duty soldier.

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Orthodoxy’s fantasist tendency

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 11, 2008

Insights from the wider Jewish world. This week, how a lack of leadership has boosted religious delusions

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Hizbollah, Israel settle terms of prisoner swap

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 4, 2008

Israel is due to receive Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, captured two years ago, in the next two weeks in return for five Lebanese prisoners and the bodies of 10 Hizbollah fighters.

The cabinet voted this Sunday in favour of the plan despite Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warning that the two soldiers are presumed to be dead.

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Ceasefire emboldens Hamas to raise stakes

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 4, 2008

The fragile Gaza ceasefire and the prisoner deal with Hizbollah have emboldened Hamas to demand a larger number of Palestinian prisoners in return for the captured Israeli soldier Sergeant Gilad Shalit.

Sporadic firings on Israel from the Gaza Strip have not caused the ceasefire to break down, despite at least four occasions on which Palestinians have fired mortars and Kassam missiles since the ceasefire began two weeks ago.

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Kadima leadership battle starts early

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 4, 2008

The two front-runners in the Kadima leadership primaries, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Transport Minister Shaul Mofaz, began trading barbs this week, even before an official date for the primaries had been decided.

The primaries are expected in September, after Kadima committed to them in return for Labour agreeing not to vote for early elections.

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A day of disbelief

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 3, 2008

Everyone agreed that it was a terrorist attack that could not have been foreseen.

The driver of the number 13 bus attacked by 31-year-old Husam Dwiat told reporters that his first response had been to harangue him for bad driving.

“When he first hit us,” said Assaf Nadav, “I opened the window to shout at him about his driving. I thought it was just a careless accident. Then he turned the bulldozer around and tipped us over with his shovel.”

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Palestinian brings terror to Jaffa Road

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 2, 2008

A six-month-old baby was saved by two passers-by on Wednesday moments after her mother was crushed to death as a Palestinian terrorist drove a bulldozer into Jerusalem traffic.

The mother, Bat Sheva Unterman, was one of three people murdered by 31-year-old construction worker Husam Dwiat in a bloody rampage.

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Diaspora ‘crisis’ plan

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 27, 2008

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced a radical rethink of policy in Israel-diaspora relations this week, warning that “a serious crisis” of assimilation and alienation faces world Jewry.

In the keynote speech to the Jewish Agency’s board of governors in Jerusalem, Mr Olmert acknowledged that “the era of mass aliyah from countries of distress has come to a close”.

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Family fury as Olmert zig-zags on prisoner swap

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 27, 2008

The Israeli cabinet is to vote on Sunday on the prisoner exchange with Hizbollah, after a week in which Prime Minister Ehud Olmert twice changed his mind on the deal by which Israel is to receive two soldiers in return for handing over five Lebanese prisoners.

The prisoner swap seemed imminent last week after Israeli and Lebanese sources both confirmed that a deal had been brokered by the German government.

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Israeli top brass split over plan to hit Iran

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 27, 2008

Media reports of a recent wide-scale Israeli military exercise over the Mediterranean — widely interpreted as a dry-run for a possible attack on Iran — have highlighted stark differences among the Israeli leadership over what action to take against Iran’s nuclear programme.

More than 100 F-15 and F-16 fighter planes, backed up by rescue helicopters, air-refuelling aircraft, command-and-communications and electronic-warfare planes, flew almost 1,000 miles simulating the flight-path which would be used to bomb Iran.

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Outrage in Knesset as Olmert avoids early poll

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 27, 2008

A last-minute deal between Kadima and Labour in the early hours of Wednesday staved off — for now — the threat of early elections in Israel, but may have hastened the political demise of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who committed his party to leadership primaries in three months.

The Knesset was to vote on a motion by Likud MK Silvan Shalom for bringing the elections forward two years to this November. Kadima’s two main coalition partners, Labour and Shas, announced at the beginning of the week that they were planning to support the motion.

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Hamas prisoner swap ‘on course’

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 27, 2008

The negotiations over the release of captured Israeli soldier First-Sergeant Gilad Shalit are expected to intensify this week in Cairo, a week into the fragile ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

The ceasefire, which began last Thursday morning, has not been without its hiccups. Though both sides observed their commitments not to launch attacks on and from the Gaza Strip, Hamas did not prevent the Islamic Jihad movement from firing three rockets at Israel on Tuesday, in retaliation to one of its senior members being killed by the IDF near Nablus in the West Bank.

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All hugs and no policy on Sarko’s Israel tour

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 27, 2008

“Anyone trying to destroy Israel will find France blocking the way,” French President Nicolas Sarkozy declared at a special session of the Knesset this week, during his three-day state visit to Israel. Mr Sarkozy’s visit was heavy on gestures, though rather light on political substance.

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Olmert talks tough as Gaza ceasefire begins

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 20, 2008

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has made clear he would not shrink from a military response if Hamas violated the Egypt-brokered ceasefire with Israel due to begin at 6am yesterday (Thursday).

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The beginning of calm or another false dawn?

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 20, 2008

The ceasefire between Israel and Hamas which went into effect yesterday (Thursday) morning was reached via the Egyptians and is expected to culminate in a prisoner deal and the opening of the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt.

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Prisoner swap close as families cling to hope

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 20, 2008

A prisoner deal between Israel and Hizbollah is a “matter of days” away, according to Israeli officials, as the families of the captured israeli soldiers cling to hope they might still be alive.

In the deal, Israel will transfer to Lebanon convicted murderer Samir Kuntar and four Hizbollah members. Israel will receive its two soldiers, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, who were captured two years ago. The unofficial assumption in Israel is that the soldiers are dead.

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Scrutiny of Claims Conference grows

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 20, 2008

The Claims Conference is facing a deeper scrutiny of its affairs, both from the Israeli Comptroller and the German Auditor’s Office.

The German investigation into the Conference’s accounts is the result of rising criticism of the lack of transparency of the body which transfers pensions to Holocaust survivors from the Berlin government.

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State and religion clash on converts

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 20, 2008

In an unprecedented clash between state and religion, Justice Minister Daniel Friedman announced this week that he will act to fire the Dayan (rabbinical judge) who ruled that all the conversions made over the last nine years by the special conversion courts were null and void.

The ruling has caused chaos in the already unsteady conversion process in Israel.

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