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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.

Jan 13, 2015

Jewish victims of Paris attacks buried in Jerusalem

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Four French Jews killed in the attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris were buried in Jerusalem on Tuesday before thousands of French and Israeli mourners, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying they had been returned to their “true home”.

In an emotional ceremony at a hillside cemetery amid tight security, Netanyahu denounced the “terrorism of extremist Islam” behind Friday’s assault on the grocery and the deadly shootings on Wednesday at the offices of the Charlie Hebdo weekly.

Jan 12, 2015

Netanyahu out of step with French leaders at Paris rally

JERUSALEM/PARIS (Reuters) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu managed to ruffle a few feathers while taking part in the “Charlie Hebdo” rally in Paris on Sunday, an event his office initially said he would not be attending for security reasons.

Perhaps most awkward was his invitation to French Jews — alarmed by the Paris attacks and the killing of four people at a kosher supermarket — to migrate to Israel if they wanted, leaving French Prime Minister Manuel Valls scrambling to reassure the community it was safe and an integral part of France.

Jan 5, 2015

Abbas rolls statehood dice with International Criminal Court move

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – For someone nearing 80, President Mahmoud Abbas still knows how to shake things up. But his decision last week to join the International Criminal Court is a high-risk move that may set back the ultimate goal: an independent Palestinian state.

Frustrated by the lack of progress in negotiations with Israel – the last, fruitless talks broke down in April – and the failure of his New Year’s Eve statehood bid at the United Nations, Abbas followed through on a long-promised threat to join the ICC, filing the relevant documents on Jan. 2.

Dec 19, 2014

Of $5.4 billion pledged for Gaza, only a fraction delivered

GAZA (Reuters) – Two months after donors pledged $5.4 billion to help rebuild Gaza after the war between Israel and Hamas, Palestinian, U.N. and other officials say barely 2 percent of the money has been transferred.

The conference in Cairo had been hailed as a success, with Qatar promising $1 billion, Saudi Arabia $500 million and the United States and the European Union a combined $780 million in various forms of assistance.

Dec 12, 2014
via FaithWorld

Israeli settlements squeeze religious tourism in Palestinian areas, officials say


(People gather after lighting a Christmas tree outside the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank town of Bethlehem December 6, 2014. REUTERS/ Mussa Qawasma)

Standing on the monumental hillside south of Bethlehem where King Herod the Great was buried more than 2,000 years ago, Fadi Kattan stretches out his arm to point out the nearby Israeli settlements of Tekoa and Nokdim.

Dec 12, 2014

Israeli settlements squeezing Palestinian tourism, officials say

HERODIUM, West Bank, Dec 12 (Reuters) – Standing on the
monumental hillside south of Bethlehem where King Herod the
Great was buried more than 2,000 years ago, Fadi Kattan
stretches out his arm to point out the nearby Israeli
settlements of Tekoa and Nokdim.

“That’s part of the problem,” says Kattan, a Palestinian
tourism expert, explaining the obstacles hindering the growth of
the local industry in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Dec 9, 2014

Netanyahu makes cost-of-living promise ahead of Israeli election

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – In nearly nine years as Israel’s prime minister spread over three terms, Benjamin Netanyahu has been a security hawk, promising to do whatever it takes to combat the threat from Palestinian militants or a nuclear-armed Iran.

But as he opened his campaign for a fourth term ahead of elections set for March 17, Netanyahu stepped away from his security base to make a pitch for the large number of Israelis who are more worried about the high cost of living.

Dec 3, 2014

‘Bibi’ looks right to hold on to Israeli power

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – One of Benjamin Netanyahu’s school teachers once described him as “friendly, disciplined and obedient”. Fifty years on, the Israeli prime minister could be forgiven for wishing coalition politics were the same.

Barely 20 months after forming his latest government, Netanyahu dismissed two cabinet ministers on Tuesday, accusing them of undermining his authority, and announced new elections, which have been set for March 17, 2015, two years early.

    • 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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