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

In Jerusalem, even street naming can be divisive

In East Jerusalem, addresses in many Palestinian neighborhoods are nonexistent. Without street names and house numbers, people identify where they live by adjacent landmarks: "opposite the mosque," or "next to the corner bakery."

Ultra-Orthodox students are angry at Eud Barak's plans to end their exemption from military service

Ultra-Orthodox up in arms as Israel prepares to end army exemption

The Israeli Defence Minister, Ehud Barak, has announced plans to draft thousands of Ultra-Orthodox students into the army – a move that could set him at loggerheads with the religious parties in the run-up to a general election in January.

Netanyahu chooses date of next Israeli general election

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has chosen January 22 as the date of the next general election, but it could be some time before he discovers the identity of his main challenger.

Netanyahu calls snap general election

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last night called a snap general election, hoping to cash in on his overwhelming popularity and forestall divisive wrangling over spending cuts.

The Crusader States, By Malcolm Barber. Yale, £25

Between 1099 and 1192, an assortment of Western European Christians known as Franks or Crusaders managed to recapture, rule and eventually lose Jerusalem, Antioch, Edessa, Tripoli and the lands surrounding them in Syria, Palestine and the Levant. Known as Outremer, these were Latin and Catholic polities in lands then dominated by Greek Orthodox, or Shia and Sunni Muslim. Malcolm Barber's detailed, fair-minded and scholarly history of this collection of western states in an eastern setting sheds much light on both the period, and its repercussions, which are still with us today.

The Liars' Gospel, By Naomi Alderman

This gripping and visceral novel depicts the life of Christ from a Jewish perspective.

DJ Taylor: Britain is ready for a highbrow PM

Bright politicians should learn that authenticity pays; dirty wars in leafy suburbia; and books that shape generations

Album: Bill Fay, Life Is People (Dead Oceans)

Success in songwriting is as much a lottery as a measure of true quality.

The Blagger's Guide To: Oldies

Will you still need me? Will you still feed me?

Former Israeli PM Ehud Olmert cleared of two charges but found guilty of one in corruption case

Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert has been cleared of the major charges in a corruption trial which forced him from power.

Kathy Burke: 'I'm sick of dramas about crime and murder which always make young actresses take their clothes off'

Kathy comes home

Kathy Burke has written a sitcom about her childhood, but most shows about young women make her puke, she tells James Rampton

Jez Butterworth’s latest play, The River, is billed as bewitching tale involving a remote cabin, a man and woman and a moonless night

How to build a new Jerusalem in an 85-seat theatre

Jez Butterworth's hit play caused a transatlantic stampede – and it won't be easy to catch his new work either

Israel begins rounding up African migrants

Israeli authorities say they have detained dozens of migrants from South Sudan who have entered the country illegally.

Amore

Observations: Popera act Amore are graduating to the big time

Charlotte Church and Katherine Jenkins have done wonders in changing classical music's reputation as stuffy. But will British operatic group Amore succeed in putting the fun back in opera and be the next big opera band?

Lord Rothschild backs occupy activists

Lord Jacob Rothschild, the British investment banker, arts patron and philanthropist, has expressed "sympathy" for the Occupy movement's protests against banks.

Voices
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
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
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File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
News
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
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Darrell Banks’s ‘Open The Door To Your Heart’
music
News
Detective Tam Bui works for the Toronto Police force
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Arts and Entertainment
X Factor winner Ben Haenow has scored his first Christmas number one
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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
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Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
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'