News Israel's president Shimon Peres prepares to lay a wreath on the coffin of former prime minister Ariel Sharon

There will be a state memorial service for the former prime minister tomorrow before he is buried in a private ceremony at his ranch

Holy Warriors, By Jonathan Phillips

In a work "aimed squarely at the general reader", Phillips tells the story of the Crusades from 1095 to Bush's response after 9/11 that alienated moderate Islam. As Phillips reveals, earlier crusaders were better informed

Rail firm suggests use of 'kosher' cars

The company running Jerusalem's planned new light railway, already under attack for issuing a "racist" questionnaire to potential passengers, was facing fresh criticism yesterday for suggesting it would operate "kosher" men and women-only carriages.

Israel and Palestinians poised for direct talks

The first direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations for more than 18 months were in prospect last night after successful diplomatic efforts to find a formula designed to allow the talks to start.

Abbas resists US pressure for immediate talks with Israel

Arab nations yesterday backed the Palestinian President's refusal to immediately restart direct talks with Israel despite heavy US pressure.

Threat to peace talks as Israelis demolish home

Israeli bulldozers razed six buildings in East Jerusalem, including three Palestinian homes, marking the end of Israeli efforts to refrain from contentious demolitions that could undermine peace talks.

Barred from Jerusalem for crime of being Palestinian

Engineer's battle to overturn loss of residency highlights plight of thousands

Jerusalem goes ahead with disputed building idea

A controversial plan to demolish 22 Palestinian homes for a tourist centre in Jerusalem's eastern sector was approved by the mayor today.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews accused of racism over education demands

Parents of European descent are refusing to let their daughters attend school with girls of Middle Eastern or North African origin

Eyes wide open, Haim Tabakman, 96 mins (12A)

Starring: Zohar Strauss, Ran Danker, Tzahi Grad

Jerusalem's mayor denies building has been halted

Jerusalem's firebrand mayor has vowed to speed up Jewish construction in Arab-dominated East Jerusalem in comments that could undermine hopes of a long-awaited breakthrough in the peace process.

Netanyahu raises stakes with US over settlements in East Jerusalem

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected US demands to freeze Jewish construction in East Jerusalem, creating a key stumbling block to renewed peace talks just as Washington's Middle East envoy arrived in town.

Album: Weckmann, Wie Liegt die Stadt so Wüste (Harmonia Mundi)

Roughly contemporary with Buxtehude, Matthias Weckmann is another example of the rich brew of Venetian and French influences that coloured the devotional music of the Hanseatic League.

The Jerusalem Quartet: Should classical music really be a legitimate target for political demonstration?

The performers were heckled by anti-Israeli protesters at the Wigmore Hall this week.

Mark Rylance: 'I'll play another woman'

This week's Olivier Award confirms him as the best stage actor of his generation – and he's got plenty more surprises up his sleeve
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There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
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X Factor winner Ben Haenow has scored his first Christmas number one
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Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
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The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick