ICEJ NEWS Headlines from Jerusalem, 21 April 2017 “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever there is among you of all His people, may the Lord his God be with him, and let him go up!’” II Chronicles 36:23 TOP STORY Ahmadinejad Out of Iranian Presidential Race Former Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad has had his request to run in next month’s election rejected by the Guardian Council of senior Shi’ite clerics who vet such requests. Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had criticized the idea, saying a presidential bid by Ahmadinejad would create a "polarized situation" that would be "harmful for the county." Incumbent President Hassan Rohani and hard-line cleric Ebrahim Raisi both had their candidacies approved by the Council. Read more NEWS BRIEFS Mattis in Israel for High-Level Meetings Defense Secretary General James Mattis held a series of meetings with Israeli officials on Friday on the third leg of a five country tour of Washington’s most crucial Middle East allies. Topics reportedly high on the agenda of these meetings will be the situation on Israel’s northern border, the threat of terrorist rockets and infiltration tunnels from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and the overarching threat of Iran’s support for terrorism and renegade ballistic missile and nuclear programs. Read more UNRWA Looking to Reform Palestinian Schoolbooks The United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) announced this week that it is working on reforms to the curriculum studied by approximately 300,000 Palestinian children which attend the schools the Agency overseas in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The planned reforms include removing from textbooks such controversial items as referring to Palestinian terrorists who murder Israeli civilians as “martyrs” and statements that “Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine” but instead explaining that Jerusalem is an important city to three of the world’s major religions.. BDS Movement Suffers Another Massive Defeat The House of Representatives in the US State of Texas unanimously passed a bill Thursday barring companies which participate in the international campaign to Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) Israel. Committees must now work to merge this bill with a similar measure passed by the Texas State Senate earlier this year before sending it to Governor Greg Abbott, who is expected to sign it into law in the near future. Israel Blesses the World The Tirat Carmel-based medical start-up MeMed recently received a $9.2 million contract from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency of the US Department of Defense to develop methods and equipment which will allow doctors to quickly diagnose whether a patient is suffering from a bacterial or a viral infection. The solutions being studied by the Israeli company are part of a growing effort to address the world-wide problem of anti-biotic resistant bacteria. OPINION Turkey's 'New Sultan' Video from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy It seems inevitable that Turkey will play a role in navigating many of the crises currently challenging U.S. interests, including the outcome of the Syria war and the future of Russian involvement in the Middle East. And at Turkey's helm amid this storm is the populist president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who continues to consolidate his hold on domestic politics while using military and diplomatic means to solidify Ankara as a regional power -- trends that could accelerate after the country's landmark April 16 constitutional referendum.