Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Dec 6 2010

Israel’s catastrophic fire

An unprecedented ferocious wildfire – causing death, destruction and heavy losses – was raging since Thursday morning through Mount Carmel in northern Israel, threatening to reach the southern outskirts of the country’s third largest city, Haifa. Despite the rapid arrival of more than 30 fire-fighting aircrafts from all around the world, Israeli security forces have managed only last night to contain what seems to be the worst natural disaster in the country’s history.

Smoke over Haifa University (photo: Hila Shaked)

Two teenage brothers are under arrest on suspicion of negligent conduct that police say was responsible for the blaze. The fire has left 12,000 acres of burnt forest, and damaged five million trees, with the government estimating immediate losses at $70m (€52m). (more…)

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Nov 15 2010

“UNRWA’s existence is a failure”

John Ging, head of UNRWA operations in Gaza (photo: Heinrich Böll Foundation)

John Ging, head of UNRWA operations in Gaza (photo: Heinrich Böll Foundation)

The Israeli negative view of UNRWA is perfectly understandable. Palestinians will not achieve their rights through illegal activities, such as firing rockets into Israel. UNRWA shouldn’t exist after so many years – and due to history, people in Gaza have to prove to their neighbors that they are truly committed to peace.

These are some of the most interesting remarks that John Ging, head of UNRWA operations in Gaza, made in a special interview. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees’ (UNRWA) mission is to provide welfare and education services to 4.8 million people defined by it (as of today) as refugees – in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. (more…)

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Oct 15 2010

New setback, same problems

The American envoy for Middle East peace is not a man to envy. Senator George Mitchell is trying to remain upbeat while shuttling between Jerusalem and the surrounding Arab capitals, but his deepening wrinkles leave no place for doubt: the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is – yet again – in dire straits.

Clinton, Netanyahu and Abbas (photo: State Department)

Clinton, Netanyahu and Abbas (photo: State Department)

Direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority were re-launched a month ago in Washington, so how come they’re derailing so quickly? The issue now in the forefront is Israeli settlements in the West Bank, after the Israeli government announced last November a 10-month moratorium on construction as a trust-building step. It took the international community nine of those months to get the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas on board, and the Israeli prime minister is now under intense pressure to prolong the moratorium further. Abbas has threatened to leave the talks if it is not renewed. (more…)

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Aug 29 2010

Israel’s blossoming friendship with China

If you happen to be in Beijing these days, and CCTV-2 is your favourite channel, you might stumble upon the documentary hit of the season – Walk into Israel, a 12-episode HD TV series, produced by China’s national television. It is considered to be the most comprehensive (and expensive) attempt in recent years to document the history of the Jewish people and that of the state of Israel.

The Israeli pavilion in Shangahi, Expo 2010

The Israeli pavilion in Shangahi, Expo 2010

Love is in the air between Israel and China, no doubt about that. Data just released by the Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute for the first half of 2010 indicates that China, which was previously ranked 11th among Israel’s export destinations, is now rated 5th, with $755m (€593m) worth of exports – a 115 per cent increase compared with 2009. Exports to China have surpassed those to long-time pillars of Israeli bilateral trade, such as Germany. (more…)

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Aug 14 2010

A reminder of the ‘Jewish catastrophe’

Just a month after playing host to a Russian-American spy swap, Vienna’s international airport was again last week the stage for a surprising secretive manoeuvre, this time involving the Libyan and Israeli governments, Europe’s most senior leaders and one of Austria’s richest businessmen.

Muammar Gaddafi (photo: James Gordon)

Muammar Gaddafi (photo: James Gordon)

The main protagonist of the night-time drama was Rafael Hadad, a 34-year-old Israeli photographer, who was arrested in Libya five months ago for allegedly spying for Israel. Two days before his arrest, he updated his Facebook status, writing, “I have just seen Muammar Gaddafi driving his own car, no bodyguards. Gaddafi is great”. The next day he updated again: “I’m in trouble”. (more…)

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