Bureau Chief, Brussels
Luke's Feed
Mar 2, 2015

EU seeks to bolster Middle East Quartet via Arab involvement

JERUSALEM/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – High-level discussions are underway on increasing involvement of Arab powers to reinvigorate a four-member group overseen by Britain’s Tony Blair that has been seeking to mediate in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since 2002.

Rather than formally expanding the Middle East Quartet’s membership, the idea is to have more frequent top-level meetings with at least Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt to ensure the region is more closely engaged at a time of tumultuous change, senior diplomats based in the Middle East and Europe said.

Feb 26, 2015

As address to U.S. Congress nears, Netanyahu treads a thinning line

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepted an invitation to address the U.S. Congress two weeks before an Israeli election, there appeared to be little downside. As the appointment draws near, the potential pitfalls are growing.

The primary objective was to warn U.S. lawmakers about the risks of a deal on Iran’s nuclear program and keep alive the possibility of further sanctions on Tehran, frustrating President Barack Obama’s long-running policy of negotiation with the Islamic Republic.

Feb 19, 2015

Netanyahu on collision course with White House over Iran

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – For someone who was educated in the United States, speaks fluent American-accented English and worked as a management consultant in Boston, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sure knows how to rub his closest ally up the wrong way.

In surprisingly critical and unvarnished comments on Wednesday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest accused Israel of distorting details of the negotiations over Iran’s nuclear programme in order to scupper the talks.

Feb 16, 2015

Israeli election chief puts curbs on Netanyahu speech to Congress

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – The head of Israel’s election commission acted on Monday to limit any pre-election boost Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may get from a March 3 speech to the U.S. Congress, in which he will warn of the threat from Iran’s nuclear programme.

The speech has caused controversy in Israel and the United States, where Democrats and the White House are angry that the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, invited Netanyahu to speak at a sensitive time in the nuclear negotiations between Iran and six big powers including Washington, and only two weeks before Israel’s closely fought March 17 election.

Feb 13, 2015

Dispute over Israeli arts prize heightens political tension

JERUSALEM, Feb 13 (Reuters) – Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu backed down in a fight over Israel’s most prestigious
arts and sciences award on Friday, saying he would not meddle in
the prize days after removing several of its judges for not
reflecting “Israeli society”.

Netanyahu’s office said he would respect the advice of the
attorney-general, who warned against involvement in the
appointment of prize judges at a time of heightened political
tension before next month’s election.

Feb 10, 2015

Netanyahu considering changes to Congress speech after criticism

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli officials are considering amending the format of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned address to the U.S. Congress next month to try to calm some of the partisan furor the Iran-focused speech has provoked.

Netanyahu is due to address a joint session of Congress about Iran’s nuclear program on March 3, just two weeks before Israeli elections, following an invitation from John Boehner, the Republican speaker of the house.

Feb 3, 2015

Ancient tablets reveal life of Jews in Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – A new exhibition of ancient clay tablets discovered in modern-day Iraq is shedding light for the first time on the daily life of Jews exiled to Babylon some 2,500 years ago.

The exhibition is based on more than 100 cuneiform tablets, each no bigger than an adult’s palm, that detail transactions and contracts between Judeans driven from, or convinced to move from, Jerusalem by King Nebuchadnezzar around 600 BC.

Jan 27, 2015

France’s Jewish migrants face challenge of life in Israel

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – At a busy supermarket in Jerusalem a smartly dressed woman, recently arrived in Israel, was stopping shoppers to ask if anyone spoke French. Having found a candidate, her first question was: “Where’s the cheese counter?”

For Jews coming to “the Jewish state” from all corners reached by the diaspora, the move may bring relief, but it also raises challenges: a new language and culture, unfamiliar social codes and the difficulty of finding a job — let alone a cheese counter, something uncommon in Israel.

Jan 23, 2015

Netanyahu basks in Congress invitation, but may shake U.S. ties

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to accept an invitation to address the U.S. Congress just days before Israel’s parliamentary election offers him invaluable pre-vote publicity, but may also have shaken the balance of U.S.-Israel ties.

John Boehner, the Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, issued the invitation without consulting the White House, a breach of protocol since it is normally up to a head of state to invite a foreign leader.

Jan 20, 2015

Islamic State threatens two Japanese captives in video

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – The militant group Islamic State released an online video on Tuesday purporting to show two Japanese captives and threatening to kill them unless it received $200 million in ransom.

A black-clad figure with a knife, standing in a barren landscape along with two kneeling men wearing orange clothing, said the Japanese public had 72 hours to pressure their government to stop its “foolish” support for the U.S.-led coalition waging a military campaign against Islamic State.

    • About Luke

      "Luke is bureau chief for Reuters in Brussels. The 25-strong, multimedia bureau covers all European Union issues, from trade, energy and agriculture to foreign policy, competition, regulation and economic affairs. The bureau is also responsible for coverage of NATO and Belgian politics, economics and company news. In his beat, Luke covers foreign affairs, with a focus on the Middle East and Iran, and writes about EU economic policy. He was previously based in London, where he was defence correspondent, and before that had postings in Jerusalem, Baghdad, Rome and Johannesburg."
      Joined Reuters:
      1997
      Languages:
      English, Italian, French, Spanish
    • More from Luke

      Publications:
      Under Fire: Untold Stories from the Front Line of the Iraq War
    • Contact Luke

    • Follow Luke