Israel backtracks on barring Human Rights Watch staffer

(JTA) – Israel said an American employee of Human Rights Watch may enter the country on a tourist visa and should reapply for a work visa, days after barring his entry for alleged anti-Israel bias.

“This is to clarify that the HRW representative may enter Israel with a tourist visa,” Itai Bar-Dov, the spokesman for the Israeli embassy in Washington, told JTA. “With regard to the working visa, this may be reconsidered if the organization appeals the Ministry of Interior decision.” [Read more…]


Israeli passenger removed from Colombia flight over bomb reference

(JTA) – An Israeli passenger was removed from a domestic flight in Colombia after he reportedly joked about detonating a bomb due to a long delay, according to local media.

Yossef Bronfen, 49, was aboard a Latam Airlines flight at the El Dorado International Airport in Bogota earlier this week for seven hours awaiting departure when he apparently lost patience and spoke about bombing the Barranquilla-bound plane, according to some passengers sitting near him in the rear of the aircraft. They said he was joking. [Read more…]


Trump reiterates neutrality on two-state solution, but says he ‘likes’ it

(JTA) – U.S. President Donald Trump said he “likes” the two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict while reiterating his noncommittal approach.

Asked during an interview with Reuters Thursday whether he had backed away from the two-state concept during his Feb. 15 joint White House appearance with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump said, “No, I like the two-state solution.” [Read more…]


UN human rights office decries Israeli sentence of soldier as ‘excessively lenient’

(JTA) – The United Nations’ human rights office said it is “deeply disturbed” by the 18-month prison term given to an Israeli soldier who killed a wounded Palestinian terrorist after he had been subdued.

Ravina Shamdasani, a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, criticized the sentence for manslaughter as “excessively lenient” and “unacceptable” on Friday in Geneva, Reuters reported. [Read more…]


Belgian anti-racism official defends Palestinian he helped convict for hate speech

(JTA) – Jews from Belgium’s Flemish Region said they “lost all confidence” in the country’s anti-racism authority over its lawyer’s defence of a Palestinian man whom the lawyer helped convict for hate speech over calls to slaughter Jews.

The unusual rebuke Thursday by the Forum of Jewish Organization of Flanders came after the Jewish weekly Joods Actueel published a leaked email written by Johan Otte, a judicial expert of the Interfederal Centre for Equal Opportunities, or UNIA, condemning Tuesday’s conviction for incitement to violence by a criminal tribunal in Antwerp. In 2014, the man shouted anti-Semitic slogans during a protest rally in that city. [Read more…]


Citing ‘bias,’ Israel denies visa to Human Rights Watch regional director

(JTA) – Israel is refusing to issue a visa to an American employee of Human Rights Watch over his group’s alleged bias against the Jewish state.

Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs advised against granting a visa to Omar Shakir, the new Israel and Palestine director for Human Rights Watch, a leading nongovernmental organization in its field, The Guardian reported Friday. Shakir is a U.S. citizen. [Read more…]


Australia reaffirms ties to Israel as Netanyahu wraps up historic visit

(JTA) – Prime Ministers Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and Malcolm Turnbull of Australia reaffirmed the strong relationship between their two countries as the former completed his landmark visit to the island nation.

The statement issued Thursday by Netanyahu and Turnbull also said that “Australia re-affirmed its commitment to Israel’s right to exist as the nation-state of the Jewish people, in peace within secure borders, and its steadfast opposition to attempts to undermine Israel’s legitimacy. Israel thanked Australia for its consistent support in this regard. Both countries re-stated their support for a directly negotiated peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Australia affirmed its support for a two-state solution.” [Read more…]