Natalie Portman says Benjamin Netanyahu the reason she skipped Israel ceremony

Hollywood actress writes on Instagram she did not want to appear to endorse Israeli leader

FILE PHOTO: Cast member Natalie Portman poses at the premiere for "Annihilation" in Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 13, 2018. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo

Hollywood actress Natalie Portman said she refused to attend an award presentation in Jerusalem because she objected to the presence of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the ceremony.

"I chose not to attend because I did not want to appear as endorsing Benjamin Netanyahu, who was to be giving a speech at the ceremony," Portman said in a statement posted on Instagram.

Her decision not to travel to Israel to receive the $1 million Genesis Prize forced the organisers to cancel the presentation ceremony scheduled for June.

Announcing the cancellation on Friday, the Genesis Prize Foundation said one of Portman's representatives informed them that actress, who has dual American-Israeli citizenship, was troubled by "recent events in Israel" and "does not feel comfortable participating in any public event in Israel".

The foundation announced Portman, 36, as the winner of the prize in November. It has been awarded annually since 2014 to "individuals who have attained excellence and international renown in their chosen professional fields, and who inspire others through their engagement and dedication to the Jewish community and/or the state of Israel", according to the foundation's website.

Recipients contribute the prize money to causes of their choice, and Portman had said she planned to help programmes for women's equality.


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The Oscar-winning actress, who was born in Jerusalem, also denied accusations by the Israeli culture minister Miri Regev that supported the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

"I am not part of the BDS movement and do not endorse it," Portman said in her Instagram post.

"Like many Israelis and Jews around the world, I can be critical of the leadership in Israel without wanting to boycott the entire nation," she said.

"Israel was created exactly 70 years ago as a haven for refugees from the Holocaust. But the mistreatment of those suffering from today's atrocities is simply not in line with my Jewish values," she said.

"Because I care about Israel, I must stand against violence, corruption, inequality and abuse of power."