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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.

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.

    • 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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