Oscar-winning actress Natalie Portman has pulled out of a major award ceremony due to take place in Israel, citing her “distress” at recent events in the country.

The American-Israeli actress said she did not feel comfortable attending public events in Israel after the state was criticised for firing on Palestinian protesters in the Gaza strip

Jerusalem-born Portman was due to receive the 2018 Genesis prize, dubbed by some as the “Jewish Nobel” prize but pulled out saying she ‘cannot in good conscience’ attend ceremony

Her representative said that “recent events in Israel have been extremely distressing to her and she does not feel comfortable participating in any public events in Israel” and that “she cannot in good conscience move forward with the ceremony”.

Sputnik news reports:

MP Oren Hazan, representing the center-right Likud party in the Knesset, demanded that the Hollywood star Natalie Portman be stripped of her Israeli citizenship after she blew off the ceremony of the Genesis Prize, dubbed the “Jewish Nobel.”

“Portman has no problems exploiting her Jewish roots to promote her career as well as expressing her pride for deferring from service [in Jewish Army]. And there are respected people who thought that she deserves the award, named the ‘Jewish Nobel Prize.’ But this is ‘The End’ title: Minister [Aryeh] Deri should take away her Israeli citizenship,” Hazan posted on Twitter.

The American actress, who was born in Israel with the name Hershlag and has been known for her commitment to her Jewish heritage, initially agreed to come to Israel this June to get $2 million for being “an inspiration to the next generation of Jews” for her professional achievements; later, however, she backed out of it.

The statement of Portman’s publicist, distributed by the organizing foundation, reads that “[r]ecent events in Israel have been extremely distressing to her and she does not feel comfortable participating in any public events in Israel,” and “she cannot in good conscience move forward with the ceremony.”

The announcement doesn’t specify what exactly made Portman change her mind. But her decision followed the latest violent clashes on the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, where the Israeli defense forces opened fire on Palestinian protesters, killing several. The move was condemned by the UN and the EU as disproportionally violent.