Globe Briefs August 13

Globe Briefs August 13

Rivlin urges Netanyahu to repair ties with Obama

JERUSALEM — Israeli President Reuven Rivlin told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to repair the damaged relations with President Barack Obama.

“I think they are very similar in nature, and are able to upset each other,” Rivlin told the Israeli daily Yediot Acharonot in an interview, one of several he gave this week to the Israeli media. “But it is not good they annoy each other at the expense of the U.S.-Israel relationship.

“There are three principles to Israel’s foreign policy,” Rivlin told the Hebrew-language Haaretz newspaper. “First, relations with the U.S.; second, relations with the U.S.; and the third principle — relations with the U.S.

“We also need the world, even though many times we don’t agree with it,” he said.

On Aug. 6, both newspapers reported excerpts of the interviews, which come at the end of Rivlin’s first year in office; the full articles will appear in the Friday editions. The interviews come as Obama is trying to secure congressional approval of the Iran nuclear deal reached last month between Iran and six major powers. Netanyahu is working to counter the agreement, which offers sanctions relief for nuclear restrictions. Both leaders have addressed representatives of the Jewish community in the last week.

“The prime minister has waged a campaign against the U.S. as if the two sides were equal,” the The Jerusalem Post quoted Rivlin as saying. “And this is liable to hurt Israel itself. I must say that he understands the U.S. better than I do, but, nonetheless, I must say that we are quite isolated internationally.”

Rivlin acknowledged that Israel is “in great crisis” over two attacks last week: the firebombing of a Palestinian home that left a baby dead, and the stabbing attack at the Jerusalem gay pride parade that left a teenage girl dead.

The Israeli president spoke out against the attacks and received threats in return, but told Maariv, “I’m not afraid of them, and I won’t be deterred by them.”

Trial on cover-up of Buenos Aires Jewish Center bombing opens

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Argentina’s former president is among 13 defendants who have gone on trial for bribery and hindering the investigation into the deadly 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish Center in Buenos Aires.

Ex-President Carlos Menem did not appear in person on Aug. 6, the opening day of the trial in a Buenos Aires federal court, due to health problems.

The original investigation failed to convict anyone following a three-year trial that ended in 2004. But the court ordered an extension of the investigation based on a bribery accusation against the presiding judge, Juan Jose Galeano, who is among the defendants now.

 “Our expectation for this trial is that the process can shed some light on the attack, in order to know more about it and to be closer to bringing out truth and justice,” Julio Schlosser, president of the DAIA Jewish political umbrella, said in an interview. “As in every judicial process, we are confident in our judiciary system.”

DAIA leader Ruben Beraja also is a defendant due to his involvement in the alleged bribery, prosecutor Luciano Hazan said Thursday in court.

The trial will continue each Thursday. With more than 140 witnesses expected to testify, it is estimated to last more than a year.

The bribery accusations involve a payment of $400,000 to an auto mechanic, Carlos Telledin, for testifying against police officers. Also, Galeano is accused of canceling a probe of Alberto Kanoore Edul, a Syrian relative of Menem, at the request of the government.

The July 18, 1994, attack on the AMIA center, which took place during Menem’s first term as president, left 85 dead and 300 injured.

In 2005, a jury dismissed Galeano and the case was transferred to federal judge Rodolfo Canicoba Corral and prosecutor Alberto Nisman. As a result of the Nisman-led investigation, Argentina is seeking the extradition of seven Iranians for their alleged roles in the attack. Nisman accused Argentina’s current president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, and foreign minister, Hector Timerman, who is Jewish, as well as other politicians of covering up Iranian suspects in the case.

Nisman was found dead in his Buenos Aires apartment in January; the cause of his shooting death remains undetermined.

Airport’s employees cancel threatened Shabbat strike

JERUSALEM — Employees at Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport have canceled a threatened Shabbat strike.

The planned 25-hour work stoppage from Friday evening until Saturday night was announced on Aug. 6, but was aborted that night after the airport workers’ union and airport management agreed to pick up stalled negotiations on Sunday over limiting the hiring of contract workers at the airport.

The strike, which would have come during the height of the Israeli travel season, would have affected 200 departing flights and 30,000 passengers. Flights were set to arrive at the airport as scheduled, according to reports.

Israeli badminton player scores visa to Indonesia for world championships

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Indonesia has granted an Israeli badminton player a visa to enter the country for the world championships after initially refusing his request.

The visa for Misha Zilberman, 26, was approved on Monday, and he arrived in Jakarta later the same day under tight security, according to the Olympic Committee of Israel. Zilberman applied for the visa six months ago and had been waiting in Singapore, a short flight to Jakarta, for the last two weeks hoping it would come through before the start of competition on Monday.

The Badminton World Federation intervened to help Zilberman obtain the visa, The Associated Press reported, citing Olympic Committee of Israel Secretary-General Gili Lustig.

Indonesia, a nation of some 250 million citizens, is the world’s largest Muslim country in terms of population. Israel does not have diplomatic relations with Indonesia.

Zilberman’s first match is scheduled to take place on Tuesday against Jen Hao of Taiwan. Zilberman competed in the 2012 London Olympics, the first Israeli badminton player to do so. He is ranked 44th in the world.

Arab and Muslim countries have repeatedly barred Israeli athletes from attending matches, sometimes as punishment for the barring of Palestinian athletes by Israel from attending international tournaments.

World Jewish Congress CEO Robert Singer, who last week criticized the Indonesian government, praised the decision to grant Zilberman a visa, saying: “We believe that it is important that politics and sport are kept separate as much as possible.”