Netanyahu and Rivlin Refuse Meetings With Jimmy Carter
(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin declined requests for meetings with former US president Jimmy Carter, who is scheduled to visit Israel and the disputed Palestinian territories in early May, Israel’s Channel 10 reported Monday.
The decision reportedly followed a recommendation by the Israeli Foreign Ministry that Carter, a harsh critic of Israel’s policies, be declared persona non grata in the Jewish state. The ministry recommended that no government official, on any level, meet with Carter. A foreign ministry official told the i24 news website that Israel’s National Security Council backed the foreign ministry’s recommendation.
Carter has repeatedly spoken out against Israeli policies concerning the Palestinian Authority, particularly in his 2006 book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, and took an ardent anti-Israel stance during last summer’s war in Gaza. He stated that there was “no justification in the world for what Israel is doing” during Operation Protective Edge and urged President Barack Obama to remove Hamas from the US State Department’s list of terrorist organizations.
Jerusalem Car Ramming Confirmed as Terrorist Attack
(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) “I wanted to murder Jews,” 37-year-old Arab man Khaled Koutineh, who drove his car into a bus stop in Jerusalem’s French Hill junction last week, reportedly told Shin Bet security agency investigators, confirming their suspicions.
The Shin Bet had suspected that the April 16 incident, which killed Shalom Yohai Sherki, 26, and seriously injured Shira Klein, 20, was a terrorist attack, but also pursued leads suggesting an accident. According to Israel’s Channel 2, Koutineh, who holds an Israeli ID card, told investigators that he was driving around Jerusalem in his car “looking to murder Jews” over what he called his “miserable life,” saying he and several of his relatives had been detained at a security checkpoint in eastern Jerusalem.
During questioning, Koutineh reportedly said he decided Sherki and Klein were Jews “by the way they were dressed.” He further confessed that he initially sought to use a pre-existing mental condition to claim he was insane and shirk responsibility for the attack.
EL AL Airlines Offers Special Pricing for Yom Ha’atzmaut
EL AL Israel Airlines is providing travelers with exceptional spring savings in honor of Israel’s 67th Independence Day. The special roundtrip airfare is $867 from New York (JFK/Newark) for travel April 23–June 14, 2015 and $967 from Los Angeles for departures April 23–May 31. The three-day spring savings will be available for purchase through Thursday, April 23. For more information, visit elal.com or contact any travel agent or call EL AL at 800-223-6700.
UJA CEO Eric S. Goldstein to Speak About Crisis at YINR
Eric S. Goldstein, the CEO of UJA-Federation of New York, will be presenting a talk at the Young Israel of New Rochelle this Saturday night. His speech, entitled “Responding in Crisis and Every Day: A Vision for Kehilla,” will address UJA’s response to the needs of the Jewish community every day and in times of crisis. Goldstein will also discuss challenges facing Israel in the wake of the Gaza war and the difficulties for Jews in France and the Ukraine.
Iran Won’t Allow IAEA to Re-Inspect Parchin Military Base
(JNS.org) Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesperson for Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, said the Islamic Republic will not allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) nuclear watchdog to inspect its Parchin military base for a second time. “They (the IAEA) have been raising the issue for years. It is important for their propaganda. They know we will not allow them to visit the Parchin base again, but they think raising the issue benefits the propaganda,” Kamalvandi said at a news conference in Tehran, Reuters reported.
The West has suspected Iran of using the Parchin base for nuclear weapons research, while Iran claims Parchin is an ordinary military base that is not involved in nuclear research. “In a meeting between [Iranian] President [Hassan] Rouhani and [IAEA chief] Yukiya Amano, President Rouhani reminded him that, ‘When you requested to visit the facilities in Parchin for the first time, I said yes, you can go to Parchin and everywhere else, and you can collect samples. But it can be allowed just for once as it is a military base. A second visit will not happen,’” said Kamalvandi.
The remarks come shortly after Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that America is responsible for creating the “myth” of Iran’s nuclear weapons in order to portray the country as a threat.
Tennessee General Assembly Becomes First State Legislature to Condemn BDS
(By Sean Savage/JNS.org) The Tennessee General Assembly on Tuesday became the first state legislature in the U.S. to formally condemn the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.
Senate Joint Resolution 170, initially passed April 9 by the Tennessee Senate in a unanimous 30-0 vote, was approved by the Tennessee House of Representatives in an overwhelming 93-1 vote on Tuesday, with Democratic State Representative G.A. Hardaway the lone dissenter.
The resolution, which is expected to be signed next week by Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, declares that the BDS movement is “one of the main vehicles for spreading anti-Semitism and advocating the elimination of the Jewish state,” adding that BDS activities in Tennessee “undermine the Jewish people’s right to self-determination, which they are fulfilling in the State of Israel.”
At 67th Birthday, Israel’s Population Stands at 8.345 Million
(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics published new figures ahead of Yom Ha’atzmaut (Independence Day) showing that the country’s population stands at 8,345,000, about 10.4 times greater than the population of 806,000 when the Jewish state was founded in 1948.
Jewish residents number 6,251,000, comprising 74.9 percent of the population. The Arab population, which stands at 1,730,000, represents 20.7 percent of the general public. Non-Arab Christians, members of other religions, and new immigrants—who according to the population registry are not part of any religious group—comprise 364,000 people (4.4 percent).
Israel’s population grew by 162,000—2 percent—since last year’s Independence Day. A record 176,000 babies were born during that period, and 44,000 residents died. Some 32,000 people made aliyah since the last Yom Ha’atzmaut.
Israel Sentences Iranian Spy to Seven Years in Prison
(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) Israel’s Central District Court on Tuesday sentenced Iranian-Belgian national Ali Mansouri to seven years in prison for espionage, as part of a plea bargain reached with the State Attorney’s Office.
The 55-year-old Mansouri, who received Belgian citizenship in 2006 and subsequently changed his name to Alex Mans, was arrested while trying to leave Israel in September 2013. During his interrogation, Mansouri admitted he was recruited by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and was instructed to use his Belgian identity to forge business contacts in Israel, to serve as a cover for diverse intelligence gathering.
The defense claimed Mansouri’s actions were coerced, as several members of his family were held by the IRGC, which threatened to harm them unless he agreed to cooperate. Mansouri admitted he was also promised $1 million for his cooperation.
According to the indictment, Mansouri visited Israel three times. He documented the layout of Ben Gurion International Airport, the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, and a secret military facility