JNS news briefs: March 7, 2014

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Time to free Jonathan Pollard, Netanyahu tells Obama
(JNS.org) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with U.S. President Barack Obama about the issue of convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard’s release when the two leaders met March 3 at the White House, Netanyahu said in an interview with Israel Hayom that will be published on Sunday.

“Pollard shouldn’t be in jail or in the hospital,” Netanyahu said. “The time has come to release him. I spoke about this with Obama.”

The Free Pollard Campaign reported Thursday that Pollard, in his 29th year in U.S. prison, was hospitalized Wednesday after his medical condition deteriorated. He has been suffering from various pains and underwent surgery for an unspecified medical problem during his hospitalization. Over the last year, Pollard’s medical issues have caused him to lose consciousness several times.

Pollard’s wife Esther said, “I received word of his hospitalization, but they did not give me any more details. The lack of information is very difficult. It really drives you crazy to go through this after 29 years.”

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IDF trains with American troops on V-22 Osprey ‘plane-copter’
(JNS.org) The Israeli Air Force trained this week with its American counterpart on the Boeing-made V-22 Osprey “plane-copter,” which can lift off and land like a helicopter, and can transform mid-flight into a high-speed turboprop aircraft.

The exercise, which concluded on Thursday, also included U.S. Marines and Israel Defense Forces infantry units, according toIsrael Hayom.

The deal for the IDF to acquire the Osprey aircraft was finalized during Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon’s meeting with his American counterpart Chuck Hagel last November.

Israel purchased six Osprey aircrafts, which are scheduled to arrive in 2016. The V-22 is primarily used by the U.S. military for special forces operations.

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NGO Monitor: Anti-Israel Bethlehem conference funded by U.S., U.K., Netherlands
(JNS.org) The U.S., U.K., and Dutch governments are helping to fund an upcoming conference called “Christ at the Checkpoint,” which attempts to sway Evangelical Christian opinion against Israel and whose themes have anti-Semitic undertones, according to a new report by the watchdog group NGO Monitor.

Christ at the Checkpoint (CATC) is a biennial event held in Bethlehem, organized by the Bethlehem Bible College and the Holy Land Trust. This year’s conference is scheduled for March 10-14. The stated goal of CATC is to “challenge Evangelicals to take responsibility to help resolve the conflicts in Israel-Palestine by engaging with the teaching of Jesus on the Kingdom of God.” Yet CATC includes a heavy emphasis on replacement theology, which teaches that the Christian church has replaced Israel or the Jewish people regarding the plan, purpose, and promises of God. Adherents of the theology believe that the Jewish are no longer God’s “chosen people.”

According to NGO Monitor’s report, the National Endowment for Democracy, largely funded by the U.S. Congress, has given $232,300 to the Holy Land Trust from 2006-2012, while the British government has given ₤15,000 ($25,078) to the Holy Land Trust through the U.K. government’s Middle East and North Africa Conflict Pool.

Two Dutch charities that receive subsidies and grants from the Dutch government—Cordaid (Catholic Organization for Relief and Development) and Kerk in Actie—also have ties to the Holy Land Trust.

“Direct and indirect funding to the organizers of Christ at the Checkpoint is mystifying and deeply concerning to us,” Yitzhak Santis, Chief Programs Officer and “BDS in the Pews” Project Director at NGO Monitor, told JNS.org.
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Pope Francis forced to cancel Israel trip over labor dispute
(JNS.org) Pope Francis has been forced to cancel his planned trip to Israel in May due to a labor dispute within the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

A source at the Israeli Foreign Ministry told the Times of Israel that the Vatican had to cancel the trip because most of the ministry’s workers are on strike and cannot make the necessary arrangements for the trip.

Pope Francis, who has garnered considerable acclaim from Jewish leaders for his push for stronger Jewish-Christian relations, announced the trip to Israel and Jordan in January. The visit was scheduled to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s visit in 1964.

Due to the Pope’s busy schedule, the visit was canceled and not rescheduled.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, who was scheduled to address the Israeli Knesset on March 12, was also forced to reschedule his visit due to the labor dispute. Cameron also had to cancel an earlier trip to Israel due to massive flooding in the U.K. in February.

The labor dispute may also force President Shimon Peres to cancel a scheduled trip to China in April.

The Foreign Ministry’s Workers Union is pushing for higher wages and better working conditions for diplomats serving abroad.
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U.S.: Iran nuclear talks still appropriate despite missile shipment

(JNS.org) White House Spokesperson Jay Carney told reporters Wednesday that continuing to pursue a diplomatic resolution with Iran on its controversial nuclear program is still appropriate even in the wake of Israel’s interception of a ship containing Syrian-made missiles on the way from Tehran to Gaza.

“We continue to have enormous issues with Iran, its sponsorship of terrorist organizations, its bad behavior in the region that manifests itself in many ways. And we continue to take all the necessary steps to address those challenges,” Carney said.

“Even as we continue efforts to resolve our concerns over Iran’s nuclear program through diplomacy, we will continue to stand up to Iran’s support for destabilizing activities in the region, in coordination with our partners and allies, and made clear that these illicit actions are unacceptable to the international community and in gross violation of Iran’s U.N. Security Council obligations,” he said.

Carney also revealed that the U.S. intelligence services and military collaborated with Israel in the mission to track and stop the Iranian ship. “Throughout this time our intelligence and military activities were closely coordinated with our Israeli counterparts who ultimately chose to take the lead in interdicting this shipment of illicit arms,” he said.

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One Response to “JNS news briefs: March 7, 2014”

  1. A.A. Cunningham says:

    ‘on the Boeing-made V-22 Osprey “plane-copter,”'(sic)

    The Osprey is a tilt-rotor not a “plane-copter”(sic).

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