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Monday, January 16, 2017

POPE MEETS PALESTINIAN LEADER; VATICAN CALLS JERUSALEM HOLY

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- The Vatican stressed the sacred nature of Jerusalem on Saturday as the Palestinian leader warned that prospects for peace could suffer if the incoming Trump administration goes ahead with plans to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The developments came as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met with Pope Francis and inaugurated the Palestinian embassy to the Holy See.

Abbas said he had only heard through news reports of the proposal by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump to move the embassy to Jerusalem.

The Palestinians strongly oppose the embassy move, saying it would kill any hopes for negotiating an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement and rile the region by undercutting Muslim and Christian claims to the holy city.

"We hope that this news is not true, because it is not encouraging and will disrupt and hinder the peace process," he said. He urged Trump to open a dialogue with both Israelis and Palestinians.
Trump hasn't yet laid out a clear Mideast policy, but has signaled he will be more sympathetic to Israel's hard-line right than previous administrations.

In Paris on Sunday, the French government is hosting a Mideast peace conference attended by dozens of foreign ministers to show Trump's administration that most of the world wants a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians and is fed up with decades of conflict.

The Vatican has long sought an internationally guaranteed status for Jerusalem that safeguards its sacred character. In its communique after the Abbas meeting, the Holy See didn't refer to Jerusalem by name but said during the talks "emphasis was placed on the importance of safeguarding the sanctity of the holy places for believers of all three of the Abrahamic religions." READ MORE

Kerry: We protected Israel from unfair treatment at Paris summit

The United States delegation at the Middle East peace summit in Paris worked to protect Israel from ‘unfair’ treatment, US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday.

"We came in here and where we thought it was unbalanced and where we thought it was not expressing the kind of unity that I talked about, we fought to address it," he said.

“We didn't soften it. We did what was necessary to have a balanced resolution. And if you look at it, it speaks in positive ways, rather than negative, to both sides."

Kerry thanked France for hosting the international conference and welcomed its final statement in favor of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Arab conflict.

But, he added, the resulting statement, which he noted included condemnation of Arab incitement against Jews and attacks on Israelis, was added in part due to pressure from the US.

The Secretary of State also said that he had contacted Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu during the summit to reassure him that no one-sided action would be taken by the conference vis-à-vis Israel.

The outline of the final statement endorsed by the participants of the summit, which emphasizes a two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, was unveiled by Kerry in a speech in December.
"It evidenced a constructive willingness to engage with Israel that has 

The conference comes less than a month after the US withheld its veto on an unprecedented United Nations Security Council resolution which labelled all Jewish communities in eastern Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria as illegal.

But Kerry said he had told Netanyahu that, contrary to his government's complaints, this did not mean that Washington had turned its back on Israel's claim on Jerusalem.

Kerry said he had told Netanyahu: "We fully expect Israel's profound historic and religious ties to the city and to its holy sites. We've never questioned that.

"This resolution in no manner prejudges the outcome of permanent status negotiations for east Jerusalem which must reflect those historic ties and realities on the ground."

Abbas welcomes Paris conference statement

Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas welcomed on Sunday the statement summarizing the Paris peace conference, in which representatives from 72 countries gathered to discuss the Israel-PA peace process.

The statement called on both sides to adopt the “two-state solution” on the basis of the pre-1967 borders, which essentially means the uprooting of Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria.

The countries represented at the conference decided to adopt UN Resolution 2334 which condemned Israeli communities in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem. It was also decided that another meeting on Israel-PA peace will be convened by the end of 2017.

Following the statement, Abbas said that there were “positive elements” in it, such as the fact that it confirmed the international authority for a solution to the conflict, including international law, as well as the fact that it expressed opposition to Israeli “settlements” and policy that determines facts on the ground, including in Jerusalem.

Abbas stressed the importance of implementing UN Security Council Resolution 2334 and the statement of the Paris conference in order to force the "Israeli occupation authorities" to “cease settlement activity, including in Jerusalem, implement written agreements and stop thwarting the two-state solution.”

In addition, Abbas called on all countries to recognize the “State of Palestine”.

Earlier on Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that the American delegation at the Paris summit worked to protect Israel from “unfair” treatment.

"We came in here and where we thought it was unbalanced and where we thought it was not expressing the kind of unity that I talked about, we fought to address it," he said.

“We didn't soften it. We did what was necessary to have a balanced resolution. And if you look at it, it speaks in positive ways, rather than negative, to both sides."

The Secretary of State also said that he had contacted Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu during the summit to reassure him that no one-sided action would be taken by the conference vis-à-vis Israel.

Netanyahu spoke out against the conference on Sunday morning, describing it as "a worthless and empty conference. Its only purpose is to attempt to force Israel to agree to conditions which do not aid Israel's national interests.

"This conference also harms the chance for peace, since it strengthens the Palestinians' refusal to negotiate and allows them to ignore the need for compromise without preconditions,” he added.

Iran: We won't renegotiate the nuclear deal

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Abbas Araqchi, made clear on Sunday that his country will not renegotiate its nuclear agreement with world powers, even if it faces new sanctions from the United States after Donald Trump becomes president.

During his election campaign Trump publicly spoke out against the Iran deal, calling it “disastrous” and vowing to “rip it up” as president.

"There will be no renegotiation and the (agreement) will not be reopened," Araqchi, Iran's top nuclear negotiator at the talks that led to the agreement in 2015, said, according to Reuters.
"We and many analysts believe that the (agreement) is consolidated. The new U.S. administration will not be able to abandon it," he added.

"Nuclear talks with America are over and we have nothing else to discuss," he stressed.
Araqchi became one of several Iranian leaders who have constantly downplayed Trump’s threats to annul the nuclear deal, insisting he cannot do so even if he wishes.

One of Trump's foreign policy advisers, Walid Phares, recently indicated that while Trump might not actually rip up the agreement, he would act to change it.

In addition to tensions over Trump’s comments, Iran has also expressed outrage over the U.S. Senate’s recent vote to extend the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) for 10 years.

In response, Iranian lawmakers threatened to pass legislation to resume the country’s nuclear activities.

Fatah leader: 'Palestine' must be liberated through fighting

The West continuously says that Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction is “moderate” and a “peace partner” for Israel, as opposed to its rival Hamas whose constitution calls for Israel’s destruction.

However, a video released by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) proves yet again that Fatah is just as willing as Hamas to resort to violence against Israel.

The video shows Abu Ahmad, a commander of the Nidal Al-'Amoudi Battalion of Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades in Gaza. In it, he says that Fatah "went astray when it laid down its weapons in those bygone times – when it entered the Oslo Accords" and adds that "as long as Fatah and the national enterprise are alive, Palestine must be liberated through the might of its fighters, and not through futile negotiations."

The comments were made on December 31 on Alkofiya TV, a Palestinian Arab channel affiliated with Muhammad Dahlan, Abbas’s longtime political rival who some view as his successor.

“Fatah is a liberation movement, not [just] a ruling political party. It will constitute a vigorous revolution as long as the occupation weighs heavily on our lands. We shall never lay down our weapons, no matter how many conspire against us. We shall remain loyal to the legacy of the martyrs. Rest assured, my brother, that as long as Fatah and the national enterprise are alive, Palestine must be liberated through the might of its fighters, and not through futile negotiations here or there,” said Abu Ahmad.

He went on to vow that “we, with the will of our sons, our fighters, and the resolution of the strongest cadres and fighters of the Fatah movement, shall restore it to the right path, Allah willing. It is our conviction that only the gun can reunite the Fatah movement.”

The video is just the latest in a series of similar calls to terror that have been exposed in recent years. While Abbas tells the West in English that he is against violence and terrorism, his television channels and social media pages belonging to Fatah openly call for terrorismagainst Israelis.

Hamas headquarters uncovered north of Jerusalem

Thirteen Hamas terrorists, including a member of the Palestinian Authority’s Legislative Council, were arrested overnight in a joint operation by the IDF and Shin Bet internal security agency.

The operation comes on the heels of the discovery of a regional headquarters of the Hamas terror group in the Ramallah district, north of Jerusalem.

The base is believed to have served as the center of operations for dozens of Hamas terrorists in Samaria, and may be part of a broader effort by Hamas to expand its influence in the Ramallah area. Payments to jailed terrorists and their families, outreach efforts to local Palestinian Authority residents, public demonstrations, and the operation of a Hamas student group were all managed from the headquarters.

During the raid of the facility overnight, IDF soldiers and Shin Bet agents confiscated cash, vehicles, and propaganda material used by Hamas for recruitment purposes.

“The discovery of this [terror] infrastructure reveals Hamas’ continuing strategic intentions to operate and establish bases in the area, as part of an effort to weaken the [Palestinian] Authority; all while attempting to commit serious acts of terror,” a Shin Bet spokesperson said.
“The Shin Bet security agency and the IDF will continue to operate with determination to disrupt these [terror] infrastructures in advance [of possible attacks].”

Hollande: Two-state solution only path to peace

At the Paris peace conference on Sunday French President Francois Hollande said the world cannot impose a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and true peace can only be achieved through direct negotiations.

At the same time, Hollande told the international community not to give up on peace, since the world can not be victorious over ISIS without first resolving the "oldest conflict in the Middle East." Even the Iraqi and Syrian wars cannot come to an end without Israel agreeing to a two-state solution, in his opinion.

"But how can you think that the Middle East can be stabilized if you don’t deal with its oldest conflict? The world must not resign itself to the status quo," Hollande said. "The two-state solution is still the goal of the international community for the future.

"With this conference I wanted to inscribe the two-state solution on the international agenda. We do not want to impose any solutions… as some argued to dismiss our effort. It can only come after direct negotiations.

"Only direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians can lead to peace. (…) It is reasonable, it is necessary that the international community seriously thinks about the best way possible to guide the two-state solution. And I confirm that this solution is the only one possible for peace and security."

Hollande also said the two-state solution is "threatened" both by towns in Judea and Samaria and terrorism, and noted over 150 Israeli and Arab organizations have begun to work together thanks to "peace initiatives."

Warning that the two-state solution is “threatened” by settlements, a dwindling peace camp, and terrorism, the French president emphasized that the goal of the conference was to reaffirm the global commitment to peace rather than impose a deal.

France has provided continuous support to the Palestinian Authority. In 2015, France provided $43 million in aid, and to this day, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas remain the primary beneficiaries of French foreign aid.

'Nothing Abbas can do to block US embassy move to Jerusalem'

While the Palestinian Authority has issued repeated warnings against the planned relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the Israeli capital of Jerusalem, one Likud minister said the threats amounted to little more than a storm in a tea cup.

Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi spoke with reporters on Monday regarding the dire warnings of violence and regional destabilization made by senior PA leaders, mocking them as empty threats.

Last week, a spokesperson for PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction warned that relocating the US Embassy to Jerusalem would “open the gates of hell” – the latest effort by PA leaders to deter the incoming Trump administration from making good on the campaign’s promise vis-à-vis the embassy.

Abbas himself warned moving the embassy would “bury” hopes for peace and “fuel extremism” worldwide. The Palestinian Authority leader has reportedly lobbied Russian President Vladimir Putin to intercede on his behalf with Trump and to dissuade him from implementing the move.

But Hanegbi ridiculed the PA’s efforts, adding that warnings of dire consequences were utterly baseless.

"What can they do? What can they do? There are not going to be any consequences."
The Likud minister also pushed back on suggestions the Palestinian Authority itself could instigate a new intifada as retribution for moving the embassy.

"This is not a threat. This is shooting themselves in the head," Hanegbi said. "I don't think Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas’ alias] has an interest to open an intifada, I don't think the Palestinians would like another intifada."

Hanegbi said he did not expect a "domino effect," and that most other countries would keep their embassies in Tel Aviv.

"It is a decision reflecting the special relationship between Israel and the United States. It is not going to be a domino effect."

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Abbas: We May Rescind Recognition of Israel If Trump Moves US Embassy to Jerusalem

(AFP) Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said in an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro published on Saturday that should Donald Trump move the US Embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the Palestinian will no longer recognize the State of Israel.

“I wrote to President Elect Trump and asked him not to (move the embassy),” Abbas said in the interview. “Not only will this action destroy America’s legitimacy to fill any sort of position in a solution to this conflict, it will also destroy the Two State Solution.”
Trump, who will be sworn in as President of the United States on Friday, has said previously that he intends to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel, and move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem – a promise nearly every single other president elect has made. The Palestinians are against this, and view this as a detrimental, unilateral action, and that Jerusalem’s status must be negotiated in a final status agreement.
Abbas continued in his interview, stating that if Trump moves the embassy in any case, “we will have several options, and we are talking about them with other Arab countries.”
“Cancelling our recognition of the State of Israel is one of the possibilities, although I hope we won’t come to this point. I hope the opposite will happen – that we will succeed in working with the next US government.”

The Le Figaro article was published one day before the Paris Peace Conference is set to take place, and on the same day that Abbas visits the Vatican to appeal to the Pope to put pressure on the Americans to not move their embassy to Jerusalem.

Tancredo: Report Reveals Massive Indoctrination of Students at Universities Through ‘Transformative Civic Engagement’

Students at hundreds of colleges and universities are being systematically indoctrinated into the “New Civics” of social justice activism, according to a report released this past week by the National Association of Scholars.

The report’s findings suggest that the suppression of free speech on college campuses that is making headlines is only the tip of a very large iceberg. What lies beneath the surface is a massive, publicly funded program of indoctrination through a remaking of the curriculum as a vehicle for advancing the political agenda of progressivism.
The full NAS report, MAKING CITIZENS: HOW AMERICAN UNIVERSITIES TEACH CIVICS, can be found here.
The “New Civics” can accurately be called indoctrination because it is far more ambitious and open than the left-liberal bias in classroom instruction encountered by students for decades. Yes, 90% of college faculty in the liberal arts and humanities are liberal and progressive, and classroom propaganda is a growing problem, but the “New Civics” has ambitions for transforming the entire institution and all academic disciplines into “change agents.”

The “New Civics” is replacing traditional “civic literacy,” and it’s campus-wide ambitions have the endorsement and support of university administrators. In public institutions like the four cases documented in the MAKING CITIZENS report, it sees no conflict in using taxpayer dollars to accomplish its progressive mission. READ MORE

Egyptian FM to present vision on Israel-PA peace

Egypt’s foreign minister, Sameh Shoukry, will attend the international peace conference in Paris on Sunday, in which he will give a speech on the Israel-Palestinian Authority (PA) peace talks, the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram reported Saturday.

Shoukry is set to chair the Egyptian delegation at the conference, said a statement by foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid.

In his speech, Shoukry is expected to “outline Egypt's vision on reaching a just and comprehensive settlement for the Palestinian cause, which is considered the cornerstone of stability and peaceful coexistence in the region,” Abu Zeid added.

He further said that Shoukry will stress the importance of ensuring that the Palestinian people receive their “legitimate rights”, primarily the establishment of an independent state along the pre-1967 borders with eastern Jerusalem as its capital.

He will also stress Egypt's readiness to contribute to achieving this objective through encouraging both the Palestinian and Israeli sides to resume direct talks.

Sunday’s peace conference in Paris is part of France’s initiative to push Israel and the PA to resume stalled peace talks.

The conference will be attended by representatives from 72 countries, including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Israel will not attend, as it opposes the French initiative, explaining that the only way to reach a peace agreement is through direct talks with the PA – which the PA refuses. READ MORE

Hamas: We'll fire on Israel, start another war

In the wake of Gaza's electricity crisis, Gazan civilians organized demonstrations protesting against the serious lack of electricity and gas, and protesting Hamas' rule of terror.

In response, Hamas has arrested over 280 protesters, using any means available, including live weapons. They also arrested a comedianwho made a video about the electricity crisis.
At the same time, Hamas threatened to begin firing rockets against Israel, whom they blame for the crisis and their civilians' anger.

Hamas leaders enjoy 24/7 electricity, but give Gazan civilians only three hours of electricity a day. It is worth noting Hamas gets part of their electricity from the Palestinian Authority and part from Israel. The Israeli electricity is also funneled through the PA. The Palestinian Authority has refused to pay their 153 million dollar debt, forcing Israeli citizens to foot the bill instead.

Meanwhile, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh announced Turkey has agreed to help Gaza by sending large amounts of electricity to Gaza.

"If we feel our leadership is being questioned, we will begin firing at Israel. We will not become like Bashar al-Assad, who threatens Israel but never follows through," a Hamas spokesman said.

Likud Minister: Automatic Majority Against Paris Conference

Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) responded this morning (Sunday) for the first time to the investigations against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

"I stand with the Prime Minister," said Erdan, explaining, "These reports are certainly not pleasant, certainly not for me, nor for the rest of the Likud leadership. I hope they conclude as the Prime Minister says, with nothing."

Erdan also referred in an Army Radio interview to the international conference which convenes today in Paris, defending the Prime Minister's decision to refrain from participating.

"This conference is pre-convened on the basis of an automatic majority against Israel's side," said Erdan.

"Any Israeli presence in this conference would legitimize a misguided process that accepts the position of those who do not combat terrorism but rather pay salaries to the families of terrorists."

Israeli PM: Paris conference discourages peace and compromise

On Sunday Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke about the Paris "peace conference" which is scheduled to be held later on Sunday.

"The conference which is gathering today in Paris is a worthless and empty conference. Its only purpose is to attempt to force Israel to agree to conditions which do not aid Israel's national interests.

"This conference also harms the chance for peace, since it strengthens the Palestinians' refusal to negotiate and allows them to ignore the need for compromise without preconditions.

"I must say this conference is one of the last palpitations of yesterday's world. Tomorrow will be different, and tomorrow is very close," he concluded.

France says US Embassy move will bring 'serious consequences'

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said Sunday that if US President-elect Donald Trump moves the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem it would have "extremely serious consequences."

Speaking as 70 countries gather in Paris to try to revive Israeli-Arab peace efforts, Ayrault told French TV he believed Trump would find it "impossible" to fulfill the pledge he made during his campaign to transfer the embassy.

"When you are president of the United States, you cannot take such a stubborn and such a unilateral view on this issue. You have to try to create the conditions for peace," Ayrault said.
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas warned Saturday that peace could be dealt a mortal blow if Trump, who has vowed unstinting support for Israel, moves the US Embassy to Jerusalem.

Doing so would reverse decades of US policy that has until now maintained that the final status of Jerusalem - whose eastern and largely Arab side has been occupied by Israel since 1967 - should be determined in peace negotiations with the Arabs.

The Paris meeting is mainly symbolic, but comes at a crucial juncture for the Middle East, five days before Trump is sworn in as US president.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

'UN may pass new anti-Israel resolution before inauguration'

The United Nations Security Council may push for an additional resolution targeting Israel before President Obama leaves office next Friday, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said on Thursday.

Noting that the UN Security Council, which in December passed a resolution lambasting Israel for Jewish communities in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria, was scheduled to meet on January 17th, just three days ahead of President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration and two days after a conference in Paris intended to pressure Israel and the Palestinian Authority to reach a final status agreement.

Danon slammed the conference, calling it a “reward” for the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to engage in direct negotiations with Israel

"This conference constitutes a reward to the Palestinians for continuing to avoid negotiations while promoting terrorism," said Danon.

"The hypocrisy and the obsessive focus on Israel has reached new heights," Danon added. "These one-sided initiatives not only fail in bringing us closer to peace, but they actually encourage terrorism like we saw in last week's horrific attack in Jerusalem.”

Nor was the timing of the conference and the UN Security Council meeting coincidental, said Danon, saying there is an effort presently underway to push through an additional resolution against Israel.

"[W]e are witnessing an attempt to promote a last minute initiative before the new US administration takes office. Supporters of the Palestinians are looking for further anti-Israel measures at the Security Council."

Abbas asks Putin to stop Trump from moving the embassy

Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas has asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to intervene in order to stop the United States from moving its embassy to Jerusalem.

Top PA official Saeb Erekat told AFP on Friday he had passed on the message from Abbas to Putin during a visit to Moscow during which he met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
"The letter asks President Putin to do what he can about the information we have that President-elect Donald Trump will move the embassy to Jerusalem, which for us is a red line and dangerous," Erekat said, according to the news agency.

PA officials have in recent days continuously warned against moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a campaign pledge of President-elect Donald Trump.

Abbas last week wrote Trump a letter in which he warned the President-elect against moving the American embassy, saying that such a move would be crossing a "red line" and could jeopardize peace prospects.

Earlier in the week the PA chairman warned of “serious implications” if the embassy is moved, saying, “Moving the embassy will have serious consequences not only for the Palestinian people, but also for the legitimacy of the entire international struggle against the occupation.”

Erekat himself has threatened that moving the American embassy to Jerusalem would destroy the Israel-PA peace process. READ MORE

PA to inaugurate embassy in Vatican

The Palestinian Authority (PA) will on Saturday inaugurate an embassy in the Vatican, the PA-based Ma’an news agency reported on Friday.

The inauguration ceremony will be attended by PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Pope Francis, according to a statement from a spokesperson for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

Earlier this week it was announced that Pope Francis will grant Abbas an audience at the Vatican on Saturday, marking the third time that the Pope has met Abbas.

According to the PLO statement, Abbas’s visit to the Vatican began on Wednesday and will conclude on either Sunday or Monday. In addition to meeting with the Pope for the embassy’s inauguration, Abbas will also meet with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, and travel to Paris to meet with French President Francois Hollande, Ma’an reported.

Abbas’s visit takes place at the same time as the Paris peace conference, which is scheduled for Sunday. However, Abbas is not scheduled to attend the conference nor will Israeli representatives be present.

The inauguration of an embassy in the Vatican comes almost four years after the Vatican recognized “Palestine” as a state.

In recent years, several countries in Europe have recognized the state of “Palestine”. Britain was the first country to vote to for recognition in 2015. After Britain, Sweden announced it officially recognized the state of "Palestine". READ MORE

Friday, January 13, 2017

John Kerry, 72 Countries Set to Gang Up On Israel At Paris ‘Peace’ Summit on Sunday

TEL AVIV – In a shameful display of rogue diplomacy, 72 countries – minus Israel – are set to attend a Middle East “peace” conference in Paris on Sunday widely expected to set the parameters for a future Palestinian state.

Fresh from his 70-minute speech two weeks ago largely singling out Israel for condemnation, lame-duck Secretary of State John Kerry will represent the U.S.  at the Mideast confab. There, Kerry is slated to represent the Obama administration in crafting a “consensus” document on an Israeli-Palestinian deal.
This after a U.S. abstention last month allowed the passage of a United Nations Security Council Resolution calling the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem “occupied Palestinian territories,” and demanding a halt to Israeli construction in those areas.
Some of the holiest sites in Judaism are located in eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank, including the Western Wall and Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City; the Cave of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs in Hebron, which was home to the oldest continuous Jewish community in the world until the Jews of Hebron were massacred and expelled; the Tomb of Rachel in Bethlehem; and Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus – biblical Shechem.

The Associated Press on Friday reported on what it said was a draft statement that may be presented at the conference calling on Israel and the Palestinian Authority “to officially restate their commitment to the two-state solution.” READ MORE

Chinese state media tells Donald Trump's team to 'prepare for military clash'

The US should "prepare for a military clash", a state run Chinese tabloid newspaper has warned.
Less than 24 hours after US Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson appeared to call for a blockade of South China Sea islands, a strongly-worded English editorial in the Global Times accused the former Exxon Mobil chief executive of "rabble-rousing".
He "had better bone up on nuclear power strategies if he wants to force a big nuclear power to withdraw from its own territories", the paper, which is known for writing hawkish editorials, said. However, despite being state run, it does not necessarily reflect government policy.
In its first response to Mr Tillerson’s comments, China’s foreign ministry stressed the importance of mutual respect and cooperation with the US.
At a daily briefing spokesman Lu Kang Lu said relations between the two countries were based on “non-confrontation, non-conflict, mutual benefit and win-win cooperation."
The energy-rich South China Sea through which about $5 trillion (£4 trillion) in ship-borne trade passes every year has nonetheless been a source of tension in the region. 
Despite competing claims from other countries, including the Philippines and Vietnam, China has built seven artificial islands on reefs and rocks, outfitting them with military length airstrips and anti-aircraft guns.  
During his time in office, President Barack Obama's administration has conducted periodic air and naval patrols to assert the right of free navigation in the South China Sea. READ MORE