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PM takes credit for ‘unprecedented growth’ in Israel’s foreign relations

The badly beaten body was found last night by the man’s ex-wife.

Reports said the victim, who was wheelchair-bound, was bludgeoned to death with a blunt object, and the walls of his home were covered in blood.

Police are reportedly investigating a connection between Monday’s murder and two other similar murders in 2015 and 2016 in Ma’alot-Tarshiha that remain unsolved.

Iraqi forces retake full control of one the largest neighborhoods of west Mosul from the Islamic State group after a week of intense fighting, a top commander says.

“This morning, the heroes of the Counter-Terrorism Service on the western axis succeeded in fully clearing Tenek neighborhood,” Staff Lieutenant General Abdulwahab al-Saadi tells AFP in Mosul.

The elite forces have been spearheading a massive offensive launched in mid-October 2016 to retake Mosul, the country’s second city and the last major Iraqi bastion of the jihadists’ now crumbling “caliphate.”

— AFP

A top Turkish court rejects an opposition legal challenge to last-minute voting rule changes in the referendum over handing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan greater powers.

The opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) has repeatedly criticized the decision by the country’s top election authority to accept ballot documents in envelopes without an official stamp.

The party formally lodged on Friday a petition with the Council of State, Turkey’s highest administrative court, after the ‘Yes’ side won 51.4 percent of the vote on April 16.

The opposition argues the decision by the Supreme Election Board (YSK) on the envelopes opened the way for fraud, and launched a failed bid to annul the referendum last week.

— AFP

The Knesset plenum approves the first reading of new legislation that will again delay the start of Israel’s new public broadcaster to give lawmakers time to make last-minute changes.

The new bill to push back the launch of the new broadcaster, formally called “Kan” and widely known as HaTa’agid (the corporation) to May 15, was approved in a 44 to 34 vote.

The vote is the first in a series of measures aimed at pushing the new bill through parliament before the April 30 deadline in an effort to facilitate changes made under deal reached between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyhau and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon.

Under the Netanyahu-Kahlon deal, the new broadcaster will be stripped of its news division and separate broadcast entity will be created to deal with all current affairs offerings.

Police in northeastern Spain arrest nine suspected members of a jihadi group in raids that might help resolve recent deadly attacks in Belgium and France.

Police say one Spaniard and eight Moroccans living in Catalonia are arrested. The suspects are between 30 and 40 years old.

An arrivals and departure board is seen behind blown out windows at Zaventem Airport in Brussels, March 23, 2016. (AP/Geert Vanden Wijngaert, Pool)

A regional police spokeswoman says at least four of the detained are suspected of being linked to people arrested following the 2016 Brussels airport and subway attacks that killed 32 people and wounded 300 others.

Regional police spokesman Josep Lluis Trapero tells TV3 regional television that four of the detained were clearly members the Islamic State group.

— with AP

An Israeli judge rules the Lev Tahor community of ultra-Orthodox Jews who live in the Guatemalan jungle are a “dangerous cult.”

“Based on the conduct of the sect toward minors, it’s sufficient to call this group a dangerous cult that severely damages the physical and emotional well-being of the children of this community,” Judge Rivka Makayes of the Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court says in her ruling.

The ruling comes in response to a petition filed to the court by the attorney general and several family members of sect members.

Makayes agreed with the petition that requested the categorization of ultra-Orthodox children who were illegally taken to Guatemala with their parents to join the group as “at-risk” minors.

While the ruling will have little effect on those already in South America, Makayes hopes the ruling will dissuade other ultra-Orthodox families from joining the group.

The group practices an ultra-Orthodox form of Judaism started in the 1980s under which the women wear black head-to-toe cloaks similar to the Muslim chador.

Its adherents do not believe the State of Israel to be religiously legitimate.

The 500-strong sect has left Israel, Canada and the United States in recent years amid child abuse allegations.

The IDF says troops shot a Palestinian assailant who attempted to stab a person outside an army base in the northern West Bank.

No Israelis are reported injured in the incident outside the Shomron Regional Brigade headquarters.

זירת ניסיון פיגוע הדקירה בחטמ”ר שומרון, בה מחבל ניסה לדקור חייל — ונורה • @OrHeller pic.twitter.com/G2OJgBIaJS

— חדשות 10 (@news10) April 25, 2017

The condition of the assailant is not immediately known.

The IDF says it is investigating the circumstances of the incident.

— Judah Ari Gross

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tells visiting Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern that fostering innovation is as important as efforts to eradicate jihadist terrorism.

At a joint press conference, Netanyahu thanks Kern for his government’s efforts to combat Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism in Europe, before drawing parallels between the challenges facing the two countries.

“We are both small states, Austria and Israel, similar in population. We have high income per capita, but we know that the challenge is twofold — one is to ensure the continual march of our peoples and the world to modernity against the forces that want to take us back to an early medievalism. Fighting radical terror is something that joins all of us, and is a continual obligation,” Netanyahu says.

“But equally, seizing the opportunities of the future I think is an obligation of leaders and societies. The future belongs to those who innovate. The only way that we can continually sustain high growth for our economies is through technology and innovation.”

“We can achieve more together than separately, and there’s a lot to achieve to promise a future of prosperity and security and peace for our peoples,” the prime minister says.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cancels his upcoming meeting with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, his office says.

Netanyahu’s office yesterday said the prime minister would not receive the German dignitary if he went ahead with his plans to meet with Breaking the Silence, a left-wing Israeli group critical of the IDF.

Gabriel, who considers himself a great friend of Israel, is currently meeting with President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem.

Earlier today he said that it would be “remarkable” and “regrettable” if Netanyahu refused to meet him over a meeting with a civil society organizations. But it “wouldn’t be a catastrophe” either, he added, saying his support for the State of Israel will not be diminished by such a move.

— Raphael Ahren

Visiting Austrian Chancellor Kern expresses his admiration for Israel and says the success of the startup nation is in part due to the Holocaust.

At a joint press conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at his Jerusalem office, Kern says attending various Holocaust Remembrance Day memorials in recent days gave him “a better understanding why you are such a strong economic nation.”

“I think there is a direct line, that’s at least it’s my interpretation, between what happened in the Holocaust and your strength today,” Kern says. “And we have seen some of your ventures which were really impressive and I’m sure there could be a lot of lessons, learn a lot from your experience, learn a lot of how to be successful in a startup world.”

“You call yourself a startup nation and it’s definitely not exaggerated. The whole world is looking at you as a role model, so I’m looking very much forward to increasing our cooperation and bringing it to new levels,” he adds.

Visiting German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel assures President Reuven Rivlin that despite being snubbed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the “special relationship” between the two countries would not change.

“We are committed to the friendship, partnership, and special relationship with Israel, and nothing will change that,” Gabriel says.

The foreign minister says visiting Israel during Holocaust Remembrance Day “reminds us of the special relationship and special responsibility not just today but in the future to a secure and safe Israel, to support the country which is the country of those who survived the Holocaust.”

Earlier, Netanyahu canceled his meeting with Gabriel over his planned meeting with left-wing Israelis groups during his visit to the region.

The British government is refusing to apologize for the 1917 Balfour Declaration, a document that legitimized the creation of a future Jewish state.

“The Balfour Declaration is an historic statement for which HMG (her Majesty’s Government) does not intend to apologize,” the UK Foreign office says in a statement in response to an online petition. “We are proud of our role in creating the State of Israel.

“Establishing a homeland for the Jewish people in the land to which they had such strong historical and religious ties was the right and moral thing to do, particularly against the background of centuries of persecution,” the statement says.

The statement comes in response to Palestinian-led effort urging the British government to apologize for supporting the Declaration and “the colonial policy of Britain between 1917–1948 [that] led to mass displacement of the Palestinian nation.”

The petition by the Palestinian Return Centre has garnered some 13,400 online signatures. If the petition passes 100,000 signatures by May 3 it will debated in parliament.

Two ultra-Orthodox men are arrested for attacking an IDF soldier in the city of Beit Shemesh, reports in Hebrew-language media say.

Police were called to rescue the soldier, who was being attacked by a group of ultra-Orthodox men on the city’s Yehudah Hanasi Street.

A video of the incident shows dozens of ultra-Orthodox men shouting “Nazi” at officers.

The attack comes on the heels of widespread protests by members of the ultra-Orthodox community against Israel’s compulsory military service.

ברחוב יהודה הנשיא ברמת בית שמש, נעצרו שניים בחשד שתקפו לובשי מדים. 
צילום: י. ק. — חדשות נייעסטון pic.twitter.com/tNFHjfJTl7

— אלי שלזינגר (@EliShlezinger) April 25, 2017

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says canceling his vist with visiting German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel over his meetings with a left-wing NGO is in keeping with his government’s policies.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu’s policy is not to meet foreign visitors who on diplomatic trips to Israel meet with groups that slander IDF soldiers as war criminals,” his office says in a statement.

“Diplomats are welcome to meet with representatives of civil society but Prime Minister Netanyahu will not meet with those who lend legitimacy to organizations that call for the criminal prosecution of Israeli soldiers.”

“Our relations with Germany are very important and they will not be affected by this,” the statement adds.

Visiting German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel says that while he is “surprised” that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceled their meeting in protest of his meetings with left-wing Israeli groups, he does not consider the issue “a catastrophe.”

Gabriel tells German reporters in Jerusalem that he and Netanyahu have “a very open relationship,” and “was therefore surprised the visit was canceled, apparently because we will do something that is very usual for such visits: to speak with representatives of civil society, and among them there are also Israeli citizens of Israel critical of the government. ”

Gabriel says the offending organizations have previously been included in official events sponsored by the German government, and their participation was not protested by the Israeli government.

“I regret this a lot, but I want to state openly that we must not became a tool of Israeli domestic policy,” he says. “There will be another occasion to meet somewhere. I don’t consider this a catastrophe. If you come here you have to know that there can be surprises. But my relationship with Israel, and Germany’s relationship to Israel will not be changed by this in any way.”

— Raphael Ahren

The Shin Bet security service says it arrested a 22-year-old Palestinian man trying to bring “approximately ten thousand Jordanian dinars ($14,000)” to Hamas in the West Bank through the Allenby Crossing from Jordan on Saturday.

According to the Shin Bet, the money was going to be used to “fund terrorist activities.”

The Palestinian suspect is identified as Ez al-Din Darabia, from the village of Yatir, outside Hebron.

“Security forces will continue to work to uncover and thwart attempts by terrorist groups to smuggle money and materiel through crossings for terrorist activities, without harming the activities of the crossings and those that pass through them,” the Shin Bet says in a statement.

— Judah Ari Gross

US President Donald Trump says that Holocaust deniers are complicit in the genocide of the Jewish people, during remarks delivered to mark the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Days of Remembrance.

“Those who deny the Holocaust are accomplice to this horrible evil. We will never be silent in the face of evil again,” he says from the Capitol Rotunda.

“Today we mourn, we remember, we pray, and we pledge ‘never again,’” the president says.

Trump calls Holocaust denial “a new form of anti-Semitism.”

“This is my pledge to you: We will confront anti-Semitism,” he says.

“I will always stand with the Jewish people, and our great friend and partner, the state of Israel.”

US president vows to eradicate anti-Semitism in remarks at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s National Days of Remembrance.

“This is my pledge to you: We will confront anti-Semitism,” Trump says. “We will stamp out prejudice, we will condemn hatred, we will bear witness and we will act.”

“As president of the US, I will always stand with the Jewish people,” he says.

“I believe in Elie’s famous plea that ‘for the dead and the living we must bear witness.’”

“That is why we are here today, to bear witness. To make sure that humanity never, ever forgets that the Nazis massacred six million Jews,” he says.

Ivanka Trump visits the Holocaust memorial in the German capital, meeting with the director at the information center before walking slowly through the downtown Berlin monument.

Crowds of people snapped cellphone photos and yelled out “Hi, how are you?” as Trump entered the center to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe for a short visit Tuesday.

President Donald Trump’s daughter walked slowly through the undulating grounds filled with concrete slabs, along with US Embassy personnel. She was flanked by a strong police guard keeping tourists and others at a distance.

First Daughter and adviser to the US President Ivanka Trump visits the Holocaust memorial with director of the memorial Uwe Neumaerker during her visit on April 25, 2017 in Berlin. (Michael Sohn/AFP)

She paused occasionally to look at the slabs, meant to symbolize the chaos of the Holocaust, and donned sunglasses before emerging on the other side of the monument to a crush of cameras and onlookers.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he is “leading Israel’s foreign relations into unprecedented growth.”

“But I do this out of pride for national policy, and not with a bowed head,” he tells the contestants of the annual International Bible Quiz.

The prime minister also refers to the unfolding diplomatic spat with Germany, saying ties with Berlin are “strong, important, and they will continue that way.”

A senior army officer warns that an impending power outage in the Gaza Strip could lead to a conflict between Hamas and Israel.

The coastal enclave is expected to run out of fuel to run its power plant due to a spat between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority over taxes.

“The story there is Hamas’s dilemma — to where do you put the money? To military channels to civilian needs in the Strip?” the officer says.

“There’s a chance this could lead Hamas to a quarrel with Israel,” he adds.

During a briefing with reporters, the senior official also says Israel’s latest strike against a Hezbollah weapons cache took out 100 missiles.

A Palestinian woman helps her son study by candlelight, at their makeshift home in the Khan Yunis refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip, April 19, 2017. (AFP/MAHMUD HAMS)

The officer did not specify to which Israeli attack he was referring, as the military does not generally discuss the specifics of its airstrikes abroad. But according to foreign reports, the latest Israeli attack on a Hezbollah post took place on March 20.

The officer, who spoke anonymously, reiterates the army’s stance that it does not discuss its airstrikes with Russia ahead of time.

The senior official says Israel was monitoring last month’s sarin gas attack by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime “in real time.”

Referring to an incident last week, in which settlers attacked IDF troops in the West Bank, the officer laments the fact that those who attack Israeli soldiers are caught, they are released almost immediately.

“We arrest them constantly, and after a few hours they are let ago — instead of sitting in prison for months,” he says.

— Judah Ari Gross

President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, appeared to break US law when he failed to seek permission or inform the government about accepting tens of thousands of dollars from Russian organizations after a trip there in 2015, say leaders of a House committee investigating possible Russian ties with the Trump campaign.

They congressmen also raise new questions about Flynn’s consulting firm accepting $530,000 from a company tied to Turkey’s government.

Reps. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and Elijah Cummings, D-Md., say Flynn could be criminally prosecuted because, as a former Army officer, he was barred from accepting the foreign payments.

Flynn, who headed the military’s top intelligence agency, is a retired lieutenant general and was Trump’s national security adviser until he was fired.

— AP

Two children aged 8 and 10 are killed in an explosion in the Bedouin village of Abu Queider, east of Beersheba.

Magen David Adom paramedics declare both children dead at the scene.

The circumstances of the blast are unknown, and police have opened an investigation into the incident.

Egyptian security officials say an Islamic State suicide bomber killed four Bedouins and wounded others in an attack in the northern Sinai Peninsula.

They say the attacker, driving a car filled with explosives, struck a checkpoint near the town of Rafah manned by members of the powerful Tarabeen tribe.

The Egyptian army has been battling a powerful Islamic State affiliate in northern Sinai since 2014.

Clashes erupted last week between the militants and local Bedouin tribes after IS fighters shot at a truck smuggling cigarettes into an area where the extremists have banned tobacco.

An anti-Semitism organization says vandals have smashed 10 tombstones at a cemetery in the Romanian capital in “a premeditated act.”

The Center for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism in Romania says the tombstones were broken into pieces at the Jewish cemetery in southern Bucharest overnight Monday, Holocaust Remembrance Day, when the millions of Jews killed by the Nazis are commemorated.

The center calls for an investigation and for the perpetrators to face justice.

On Yom HaShoah: Tombstones toppled, smashed in Bucharest’s Giurgiului Jewish Cemetery, one of the largest Jewish cemeteries in Romania. pic.twitter.com/G7aj1Rtbzf

— Avi Mayer (@AviMayer) April 24, 2017

— AP

Israel has forbidden contact with the 1,500 Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike for the past eight days, the lawyer wife of protest leader Marwan Barghouti tells AFP.

“International organizations like the Red Cross, Israeli Arab parliamentarians and lawyers are forbidden from visiting the prisoners on strike,” said Fedwa Barghouti, who like her husband is a senior member of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party.

Marwan Barghouti, file photo (Flash90)

“These Israeli measures are illegal and contravene the most basic of human rights,” she says.

Lawyers got Israel’s Supreme Court to declare the ban illegal, but “were surprised to find they were still not permitted to visit detainees on the pretext that their health did not allow it,” Barghouti adds.

Her 57-year-old husband, who is serving five life sentences over his role in the second Palestinian intifada or uprising, went on hunger strike on April 17 to demand better conditions.

— AFP

The United States is “deeply concerned” by Turkish air strikes targeting Kurdish forces in Iraq and Syria, the State Department says.

“We are very concerned, deeply concerned that Turkey conducted air strikes earlier today in northern Syria as well as northern Iraq without proper coordination either with the United States or the broader global coalition to defeat ISIS,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner says.

“We have expressed those concerns to the government of Turkey directly.”

— AFP

The two church bombings that killed dozens in Egypt this month targeted unity among Muslims and Christians in the most populous Arab nation, Coptic Pope Tawadros II says.

Suicide bombers from the Islamic State group attacked two churches in the cities of Tanta and Alexandria on April 9, killing 45 people in the deadliest attacks on Coptic Christians in recent memory.

The attacks which hit on Palm Sunday “were not aimed at Copts only but at the heart of Egypt… They aimed at breaking the unity of Egyptians,” the Tawadros tells a news conference in Kuwait City.

A general view shows forensics collecting evidence at the site of a bomb blast which struck worshipers gathering to celebrate Palm Sunday at the Mar Girgis Coptic Church in the Nile Delta City of Tanta, Egypt on April 9, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / STRINGER)

“Unity among Egyptians has existed for the past 14 centuries and these attacks will not affect the Egyptian people,” he says.

— AFP

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