Turkey denies flotilla talks are stalled

Ankara has denied that Turkey and Israel are at odds over compensation to be paid to the families of people killed during a 2010 raid on a Gaza-bound ship, the Mavi Marmara, and that the reconciliation talks have reached a deadlock, Today’s Zaman reported on Tuesday. A senior Turkish diplomat who spoke to the newspaper on condition of anonymity denied a report which claimed that the Israel-Turkey reconciliation talks have hit an impasse over the scope of compensation. According to the report, the two countries were deadlocked over the compensation issue as Israel was prepared to
pay $100,000 to each family, while Turkey demands that Israel pay $1 million to each family of the nine victims. ‏(Haaretz)

4 more arrests over Toulouse murders

French police on Tuesday arrested four more men in connection with the March 2012 killing spree by Islamist gunman Mohammed Merah, French radio reported. Some of the suspects were arrested in Merah’s hometown of Toulouse, where he killed four of his seven victims before being shot dead by police in a raid. The others were arrested in Paris, France Info said. Merah shot dead three paratroopers, three Jewish schoolchildren and a rabbi in Toulouse and the nearby town of Montauban. (DPA‏) 

2 Swedes charged in Sinai kidnapping case

A prosecutor has charged two Swedish men with extortion after they threatened to kill an Eritrean man held captive in Egypt’s lawless Sinai desert. Prosecutor Krister Petersson said Tuesday that the men, aged 21 and 18, told a woman in Sweden they would kill her kidnapped Eritrean acquaintance if she didn’t pay them $33,000. The men have denied the charges. Petersson says the man was captured sometime before January. It is unclear what has happened to him since, although the plaintiff fears he may be dead. ‏(AP‏)

Former AP Tel Aviv bureau chief Hal McClure dies

Hal McClure, who covered two Arab-Israeli wars during his career as a foreign correspondent for The Associated Press, has died in California. He was 92. McClure spent 21 years overseas for AP beginning in the mid-1950s. He was posted to Tel Aviv a few weeks before the 1967 Six-Day War broke out, and six years later he covered the Yom Kippur War. “He was steeped in the fundamentals of journalism − accuracy, fairness, speed, directness of prose, alertness to both sides of every story,” said Marcus Eliason, an AP international editor in New York whom McClure hired as a messenger at the Tel Aviv bureau. ‏(AP‏)

David Nipo wins Shiff prize for figurative art

Artist David Nipo will be awarded the Haim Shiff Prize for Figurative-Realist Art at a ceremony to take place on June 24 at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. Nipo was selected over another 65 other candidates for the prize, which is being granted this year for the sixth time. Nipo will receive prize money of NIS 10,000 and a solo exhibition at the museum to go on display in 2014. “Nipo’s paintings display a breakthrough from the areas of object and subject to the areas of symbol and questions of order, compromise and hidden bonds in reality,” said the prize committee in explaining their choiceA portrait Nipo painted recently participated in a portraiture competition at the National Portrait Gallery in London and will be on display at the exhibit opening there next month. ‏(Ellie Armon Azoulay‏)

Taiwan museum holding Yaacov Agam retrospective

A giant exhibition of the work of Israeli artist Yaacov Agam is currently on display at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts in the city of Taichung. The exhibit, “Beyond the Invisible,” opened April 13 and will close June 9. It seeks to reveal the essence of Agam’s work and how it developed over the years in 50 works on display, stretching from the 1960s until this year. Agam, 85, was born in Rishon Letzion to an Orthodox Jewish family, studied art at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design and is considered one of the pioneers of kinetic art in Israel and around the world. Agam has had many solo exhibits, including at the Tel Aviv Museum, the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Guggenheim Museum in New York. ‏(Ellie Armon Azoulay‏)

Watchdog to examine complaints against Moshe Nestlebaum

The State Comptroller’s office will examine allegations made against the head of Channel 1’s news division Moshe Nestlebaum as part of a broad-based inquiry into the activities of the Israel Broadcasting Authority. This is what the senior counsel and public complaints ombudsman at the State Comptroller’s office said in a letter written in response to a journalists’ lobbying group’s petition on the matter. “Even before the inquiry the State Comptroller’s office began ... to examine the issue of tenders at the IBA,” read the letter, which was sent three days ago. “Nestlebaum is currently facing a proceeding in front of a Civil Service disciplinary tribunal over allegations of verbal sexual harassment. The person overseeing the hearing has recommended that the civil service suspend Nestlebaum from any administrative roles, which is also demanded by professional bodies such as the journalists’ lobbying group and the Israeli National LGBT Task Force. Nestlebaum is also currently a candidate for the senior post at the IBA. Nevertheless, the IBA’s executive committee rejected the request. Following this rejection, the journalists’ lobbying group contacted the state comptroller. ‏(Gili Izikovich‏)