Jeffrey Heller

Key witness against Olmert cross-examined

Ehud Olmert's lawyers began on Thursday the cross-examination of a US businessman who says he supplied the then mayor with cash-stuffed envelopes.

Israel confirms agreement to Gaza truce with Hamas

Israel said on Wednesday it accepted an Egyptian-brokered truce with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, but voiced scepticism the ceasefire would hold.

Olmert coalition ally demands he step aside

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak called on Wednesday for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to step aside over corruption allegations or face a collapse of his coalition that would disrupt peace talks with the Palestinians. This came a day after an American businessman told a court how he handed Olmert envelopes stuffed with thousands of dollars in cash.

Key witness testifies in Olmert bribery case

A United States businessman at the centre of a bribery case against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert testified on Tuesday he gave the Israeli leader cash-stuffed envelopes but without expecting any favours in return. ''I never expected anything personally. I never had any personal benefits from this relationship whatsoever,'' Morris Talansky told court.

Israel, Syria pursue peace talks

Israel and Syria said in surprise announcements on Wednesday they were conducting indirect peace talks with Turkish mediation. Senior officials from both sides were currently in Turkey, an Israeli government official said. He would not confirm there had been direct contacts between the two delegations.

Israeli army, Gaza militants in uneasy lull

Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip have been holding off from violence that could jeopardise Egyptian efforts to mediate a ceasefire, officials from both sides said on Monday. A truce deal may be key to United States-brokered peace efforts and also benefit Hamas Islamists.

Olmert certain Iran is secretly building nuclear arms

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Tuesday he was convinced that Iran was leading a secret operation to build nuclear weapons and urged a greater international effort to prevent Tehran from succeeding. ''We are certain that the Iranians are engaged in a serious ... clandestine operation to build up a non-conventional capacity,'' Olmert said.

Right-wing party quits Olmert’s govt

A right-wing party quit Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's government on Wednesday, condemning his peace talks with the Palestinians and leaving him even more politically vulnerable. Olmert had his majority in the 120-member Parliament cut from 78 seats to 67 after Yisrael Beiteinu's defection.

Bush nudges Israel, Palestinians toward peace

President George Bush launched a United States drive to create a Palestinian state on Monday, with Israelis and Palestinians nearing an agreement to address the toughest issues of their decades-old conflict. His legacy dominated by war in Iraq, Bush began three days of Middle East diplomacy in separate Oval Office meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Bush launches drive for Middle East peace

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators neared an agreement on Monday on a peace agenda ahead of a new drive by United States President George Bush to restart long-dormant talks to create a Palestinian state. Expectations were low for three days of meetings in Washington and nearby Annapolis, Maryland.

Bush launches last-ditch push for Mideast peace

United States President George Bush meets Palestinian and Israeli leaders on Monday in a last-ditch push for Palestinian statehood before he leaves office in 14 months. Expectations are low for three days of talks because Bush, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas all face political challenges at home.

Israel declares Gaza ‘enemy entity’ as Rice visits

Israel declared the Gaza Strip an ''enemy entity'' on Wednesday and said it would reduce its fuel and power supplies to the Hamas-run territory in response to rocket attacks by Palestinian militants. Hamas described the move as a declaration of war.

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