A seagull flies past pope Francis as he arrives for the Angelus noon prayer he celebrates from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on Sunday 5 January

Pope Francis announces first visit to Holy Land

Pontiff will travel to Israel, the West Bank and Jordan on May 24-26

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who has been in a coma for eight years, clings to his life.

Ariel Sharon in 'critical condition': Former Israeli Prime Minister's health deteriorates further as blood infection detected

The 85-year-old is experiencing multi-organ failure and has a blood infection, the hospital treating him has confirmed

Ayelet Zurer and Yair Lotan take the lead roles in the Israeli television thriller 'Hostages.

Hostages: The new Israeli thriller that promises to steal Homeland's thunder

The US version of the drama has been bought by Channel 4 and will go head-to-head with the Israeli original on BBC4 on Saturday nights

Former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon pictured in 2005

Ariel Sharon in 'critical condition': Former Israeli Prime Minister's 'life in danger'

The Israeli press are reporting that his family have been called to his bedside, as hospital confirms Sharon's medical condition

The News Matrix: Thursday 2 January 2014

Top JP Morgan staff earned £2.1m each

Former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon pictured in 2005

Ariel Sharon health: Former Israeli PM's condition deteriorates

The 85-year-old has been in a coma since suffering a devastating stroke in 2006

File: Palestinian children disembark their school bus and walk towards an Israeli checkpoint in East Jerusalem

Israel government 'tortures' children by keeping them in cages, human rights group says

The NGO called for Israel’s definition of torture to be changed after children were kept in outdoor holding pens during winter in a practice which had been going on ‘for months’

There are many positive lessons the Middle East could learn from Israel's treatment of its Christian population

The Israeli embassy responds to an article by Mira Bar Hillel

Clare Short could be arrested the next time she visits Israel, the country's defence minister has warned

Clare Short at risk of arrest in Israel, warns defence minister Moshe Ya’alon

Council for European Palestinian Relations that former International Development Secretary chairs has been outlawed in Israel

Netanyahu faces backlash after Israel releases 26 Palestinian prisoners

Prisoners receive heroes' welcomes on their return to the West Bank and Gaza with officials and jubilant relatives lining up to greet them

Israel and Lebanon exchange cross-border rocket and artillery fire in rare flare-up of violence

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commends his military for ‘quick and forceful’ retaliation

2013 - the year in review: It took his death, but the world came together for a moment for Nelson Mandela

Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel claimed that he couldn’t afford the trip. His absence reminded us of Israel’s closeness to the apartheid regime

Legislation which comes into force on 1 January will make it illegal for the owners of Berlin's estimated 12,000 private holiday apartments to rent them to tourists for short breaks

Rental ban to end Berlin’s reign as holiday lets capital

Berlin’s reputation as one of Europe’s coolest yet cheapest cities has boosted tourism by 275 per cent in only two decades. But Germany’s capital is preparing to turn its back on budget-flight visitors with new rules which will outlaw cut-price private accommodation.

Israeli-born actress Gal Gadot has been cast to play Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman Gal Gadot laughs off critics calling her 'too skinny' for the role

The Israeli actress has started hardcore physical training in preparation for her part

Snow-covered Jerusalem

Postcard from... Jerusalem

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In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
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The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
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Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
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Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
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Flogging vlogging

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Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

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When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible