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Mar 13, 2015

Center-left opposition rides a solid lead into Israeli election

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel’s center-left opposition is poised for an upset victory in national elections next week, with the last opinion polls before the March 17 vote giving it a solid lead over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s party.

Polls in two of Israel’s leading newspapers predicted the Zionist Union would secure 25 or 26 seats in the 120-seat Knesset, against 21 or 22 for Likud. All polls in the past three days have given the same margin of victory.

Mar 12, 2015

Israel’s Herzog takes election momentum to Tel Aviv market

TEL AVIV (Reuters) – With opinion polls showing his party holding a narrow but steady lead five days before Israel’s election, opposition leader Isaac Herzog took his campaign to a central Tel Aviv market on Thursday, glad-handing and haggling with eager stallholders.

Street markets are a traditional stronghold of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s party, but there is the scent of change in the air, with polls indicating that voters are growing fed up with Netanyahu and the right-wing Likud after nine years in power, spread over three terms.

Mar 11, 2015

As Israeli election nears, peace earns barely a mention

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – In a rare TV debate ahead of Israel’s tightly contested election on March 17, eight party leaders from across the political spectrum held forth for 90 minutes in a noisy, argumentative discussion of Israeli policy.

While social issues and the economy were grappled over at length, the conflict with the Palestinians and efforts to forge a two-state solution to the crisis — the issue which much of the world has looked to the region to resolve for the better part of 30 years — drew little new comment or insight.

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.

    • 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."
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