HERZLIYA, Israel, Jan 27 (Reuters) – When Israelis gather
around the water cooler to discuss their March 17 election, odds
are the conversation will turn to a television satire that has
caught even U.S. President Barack Obama’s notice in the past.
Eretz Nehederet (“Wonderful Country”), which airs weekly on
Israel’s biggest private station Channel 2, spares no candidate.
Conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu comes off as a
conniving buffoon and his main challenger, Labour party chief
Isaac Herzog, as a needy nerd.
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended on Sunday a planned speech to the U.S. Congress about Iran, saying he had a moral obligation to speak out on an issue that poses a mortal threat to Israel.
His visit to Washington in March has opened up a rift with the White House and has drawn accusations in Israel that Netanyahu is undermining the country’s core foreign alliance in an effort to win an election due two weeks after the trip.
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Four political parties that mostly represent Israel’s Arab minority have decided to run together in elections on March 17, creating a potential counter-weight to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing allies.
Opinion polls suggest the united Arab list could secure 11 seats in the 120-seat parliament, around the same level as they hold individually but with their political influence increased.
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – An Iranian general killed in an Israeli air strike in Syria was not its intended target and Israel believed it was attacking only low-ranking guerrillas, a senior security source said on Tuesday.
The remarks by the Israeli source, who declined to be identified because Israel has not officially confirmed it carried out the strike, appeared aimed at containing any escalation with Iran or the Lebanese Hezbollah guerrilla group.
JERUSALEM/AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Israel is lobbying member-states of the International Criminal Court to cut funding for the tribunal in response to its launch of an inquiry into possible war crimes in the Palestinian territories, the country’s foreign minister said on Sunday.
The ICC did not immediately respond to the news, but experts thought it unlikely that the lobbying effort was likely to persuade the countries that contribute most to the court to reduce their funding.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday a wave of anti-Semitism and what he called “Islamisation” in Western Europe are factors in a Jewish state push to expand trade with Asia.
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel said on Sunday it had cracked the first Islamic State cell on its soil, made up of seven Arab citizens who would be prosecuted on charges of planning attacks in the Jewish state and communicating with the insurgent group in Syria.
The defendants, including a lawyer who was representing himself in court, denied the charges of belonging to an illegal group, aiding terrorism and contacting foreign agents, a Justice Ministry spokesman said after a gag order on the case was eased.
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel shut down three local Islamist groups on Monday, accusing them of stoking tensions at a contested shrine in occupied East Jerusalem that has seen increased visits by Jews.
Al Aqsa mosque compound in East Jerusalem is Islam’s third-holiest site and the vestige of Judaism’s ancient temples. Captured by Israel from Jordan in a 1967 war, it is a focus of Palestinian statehood hopes that Jewish ultra-nationalists oppose.
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Naftali Bennett, leader of an ultra-nationalist Israeli party and a potential future defense minister, is in the spotlight over his indirect role in an army shelling attack that killed more than 100 Lebanese civilians nearly two decades ago.
Bennett, whose Jewish Home party is in Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition and is expected to perform well in elections in March, was a junior commando officer during Israel’s 1996 Lebanon offensive against Hezbollah guerrillas.
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Jewish settlers threw stones at the cars of a U.S. diplomatic delegation which came to inspect vandalism to nearby Palestinian-owned trees in the occupied West Bank on Friday, Israeli police said.
The U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv and consulate in Jerusalem had no immediate comment on the incident outside Adei Ad settlement, which caused no casualties. Such incidents are rare though Washington disapproves of Israel’s settlement policy.