Netanyahu will advance controversial NGO bill, with revisions
Bennett, Foreign Ministry make up
The Foreign Ministry has canceled a boycott of Education Minister Naftali Bennett after a meeting.
The education minister apologized for his comment questioning the “DNA
of the Foreign Ministry,” and says he did not intend to offend the diplomatic employees. The Foreign Ministry then calls off its protest.
Czech leader says Muslims ‘impossible to integrate’ into Europe
Czech President Milos Zeman, known for his fiery anti-migrant comments, says on Sunday that it is almost impossible to integrate the Muslim community into European society.
“The experience of Western European countries which have ghettos and excluded localities shows that the integration of the Muslim community is practically impossible,” Zeman says in a
“Let them have their culture in their countries and not take it to Europe, otherwise it will end up like Cologne,” he adds, referring to the mass New Year’s Eve assaults on women in Germany
“Integration is possible with cultures that are similar, and the similarities may vary,” pointing out that the Vietnamese and Ukrainian communities had been able to integrate into Czech
Zeman, a 71-year-old left-winger and the first-ever directly elected president of the Czech Republic, has repeatedly spoken out against the surge of migrant and refugee arrivals in Europe.
Academic body reaffirms opposition to Israel boycotts
Days after the American Historical Association decisively rejected a resolution denouncing Israel, the Washington, DC-based Association of American Universities reaffirms its opposition to
boycotts against Israeli academic institutions.
In a statement issued Thursday, the AHA says it is reissuing its executive committee’s 2013 statement on boycotts because the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association
recently approved a resolution in support of a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.
The full membership of the anthropologists’ group — more than 10,000 scholars — is to vote on the resolution later this year. The American Studies Association and the Asian-American Studies
Association have passed similar resolutions.
Amir Hekmati, a former US Marine who was facing a death sentence in Iran as an alleged spy, has been released by Tehran, his family says Sunday, adding they were told he was on a plane
leaving the country.
“Today, our brother, son and friend Amir Hekmati has been released from Iran. We have now been officially told that he is on a plane leaving the country,” the family says in a statement. “It
is hard to put into words what our family feels right now. But we remain in hopeful anticipation until Amir is in our arms.”
Amir Hekmati, a former US Marine held in Iran over the past two years on accusations of spying for the CIA. (Hekmati family/FreeAmir.org)
President Hassan Rouhani says Sunday that skeptics who said a nuclear deal with world powers would not bring benefits to Iran “were all proven wrong.
“Within a few hours” of the nuclear deal being implemented and sanctions lifted, “1,000 lines of credit were opened by various banks,” Rouhani tells reporters in Tehran.
“This showed that those who used to say, ‘Do not believe’ were mistaken.”
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (center) arrives at parliament to present the proposed annual budget in Tehran, on January 17, 2016, after sanctions were lifted under Iran’s nuclear deal
with world powers. (AFP/Atta Kenare)
UN chief Ban Ki-moon says he welcomes the news that a number of Americans detained in Iran, including a Washington Post journalist, have been released along with a number of Iranians held by
the United States.
On Sunday he commends “moves by the governments of both countries to improve ties.”
He adds that he is “heartened by the lifting of sanctions against Iran” as part of a landmark nuclear deal reached last year.
He says “now is the moment to push the cooperation on other pressing challenges through dialogue, which should continue to guide the way toward a safer future.”
Ban is speaking in Dubai at the opening of an event about improving the delivery of international humanitarian aid.
Kuwait Air to end NY-UK run over refusal to carry Israelis
Kuwait Air is ending its New York to London service after the Department of Transportation did not relent in its requirement that the airline carry Israeli passengers.
“The US Department of Transportation will not tolerate unlawful discrimination, and has mandated that the airline immediately cease that practice and allow Israeli passengers to travel
between the US and London,” Anthony Foxx, the transportation secretary, says in a statement on Friday. “In light of our demands, Kuwait Airways has chosen to cease passenger service from New
York JFK airport to London Heathrow by January 18.”
The department had informed Kuwait Air last September that its policies were in violation of US law. The determination came after a complaint by Eldad Gatt, an Israeli citizen who in 2013
wanted to travel on an Israeli passport from New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport to Heathrow Airport in London.
Kuwait Air in an October response to the department said that Kuwait law banned the transport of Israeli citizens/passport holders, and argued that implementing this policy in the United
States did not violate US law.
Freed Washington Post reporter leaves Iran — report
Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian has been released from Evin Prison in Tehran and has left Iran, his newspaper says in a statement Sunday.
The Post also says it is “pleased to see that Iran released four other Americans,” but gives no further details.
“We are relieved that this 545-day nightmare for Jason and his family is finally over,” says the statement signed by Post publisher Frederick Ryan. Rezaian leaves Iran on a plane with his
wife, Yeganeh Salehi, the statement says, without saying if any of the other Americans freed are also on board.
Iranian TV reports that four of the Iranian-Americans released by the US as part of the prisoner exchange are en route to Switzerland.
Times of Israel staff
Jason Rezaian, an Iranian-American correspondent for The Washington Post, smiles as he attends a presidential campaign of President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran, Iran, April 11, 2013.
(AP/Vahid Salemi, File)
Tight security as pope set to visit Rome synagogue
Hundreds of armed police and security personnel are deployed in Rome Sunday as Pope Francis prepares to visit the city’s main synagogue, where he will meet members of the Italian capital’s
Rome’s Great Synagogue is located just across the River Tiber from the Vatican, in an area still known as the Ghetto where under the orders of some of Francis’s predecessors, Jews were
confined for more than three centuries until their emancipation at the end of the 19th Century.
Some 1,500 invited guests and 300 journalists are expected to witness the visit, due around 4:00pm (1500 GMT) on Sunday.
Francis is the third pope to visit the synagogue, after John-Paul II in 1986 and Benedict XVI in 2010, underlining greatly improved relations between the two faiths.
Ties have become warmer still under Francis, who has a long-standing friendship with Argentinian rabbi Abraham Skorka, with whom he jointly published a book of conversations about issues of
ethics, morality and faith.
As part of his visit, the pope will view two commemorative plaques in the synagogue’s gardens, one marking an incident in 1943 when more than 1,000 Jews were rounded up and deported to the
Nazi death camp of Auschwitz and the other a 1983 attack on the building that left 37 injured and one dead.
An interior view of the Great Synagogue of Rome, March 26, 1986. (AP/File)
17 Syrians face charges over Istanbul bombing — report
Turkey’s state-run news agency says 17 Syrians with suspected links to the suicide bomber who killed 10 Germans are being questioned by officials at an Istanbul court where they could face
charges of membership in a terror group.
The Anadolu Agency says the 17 were referred to court Sunday following police questioning. It says separate proceedings against an 18th suspect — a minor — are still ongoing.
The suicide bomber set off an explosion Tuesday near German tourists just steps away from Istanbul’s landmark Blue Mosque, killing 10 of them. Turkish officials say the bomber, a Syrian, was
affiliated with the Islamic State group. No group has claimed the attack.
There is no information on the suspects or on their alleged links to the bomber.
Turkish police stand guard next to ambulances as they block access to the Blue Mosque area after a suicide bombing in Istanbul’s tourist hub of Sultanahmet on January 12, 2016, in which
10 German tourists were killed. (AFP/Bulent Kilic)
Germany’s economy minister says that reviving economic and financial ties with Iran will take time.
Western sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program were lifted after the UN nuclear agency certified Saturday that Tehran had met all of its commitments under last year’s landmark agreement with
Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who is also Germany’s vice chancellor, says in a statement Sunday that the move offers “the chance to open a new chapter in German-Iranian economic
But he adds that “the revival of German-Iranian economic, and especially financial, relations is a long-term process.”
Gabriel plans to chair a meeting of a German-Iranian economic commission in Tehran in May.