Following the United States’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Palestine’s President Mahmoud Abbas responded by saying that the Americans can no longer have “any role” in the peace process. In this country, too, the White House’s decision has been criticised by some MPs and in parts of the press. Are these objections really justified? The Oxford English Dictionary succinctly defines a “capital” as “the city or town that functions as the seat of government and administrative centre of a country or region”. Jerusalem meets this definition exactly. Since 1949, all three branches of Israel’s government – executive, legislative and judiciary – have been based in Jerusalem. When international statesmen and foreign diplomats come to meet our prime minister and our president, they do so in Jerusalem. It is an accepted norm in international relations that every sovereign state has the right to decide its own capital city. Even when some countries have changed their capital – as did Turkey in 1923, China in 1949, Brazil in 1960 and Germany in 1999 – this norm has been upheld, and embassies have been relocated accordingly. Only in the case of the Jewish state has this norm not been applied. Furthermore, the White House’s decision helps to advance peace by eroding the dangerous fantasy that the Jews can somehow be wrested from Jerusalem, and that we have neither a valid claim to the city, nor a right to a capital there. This is precisely the type of extremist thinking that renders peacemaking all but impossible. Whenever the international community has put forward comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace plans over the past 20 years, they have consistently acknowledged Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. For President Abbas’s Palestinian Authority, which officially claims to seek statehood alongside Israel within pre-1967 lines, Jerusalem’s status as established in 1949 should be beyond contention. Figures on the Palestinian side have stirred up anger at the decision Credit: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP Some have opposed the United States’s decision on the grounds that it risks encouraging violence. It is true that since the announcement, “Days of Rage” were declared by the Palestinian leadership and Hamas, with the latter also calling for an “intifada against the Zionist enemy”. Iranian-controlled Hizbollah has this week called for “millions of martyrs” to sacrifice themselves for Jerusalem. Unfortunately, this is nothing new: terror groups such as Hamas and Hizbollah have repeatedly made such declarations over the years. Those who wished to murder innocent civilians before the American decision will still want to do so after the decision. We should therefore be clear where the moral blame for violence lies: with the perpetrators themselves. In Jerusalem today, religious freedom is strongly upheld: all sacred sites are rigorously protected, as are the rights of all believers. Each faith community autonomously administers its own holy places: the Rabbinate oversees the Jewish sites, the Islamic Waqf oversees the Muslim holy sites, and the relevant churches oversee their respective Christian holy sites. In a region plagued by extremism and intolerance, where in recent years all too many religious sites have been desecrated or destroyed, and where religious minorities have been forced to flee persecution, contemporary Jerusalem stands out as a beacon of tolerance and freedom. Jerusalem today is a diverse, pluralistic and modern capital with ancient roots. Anyone who is aware of Jewish history and heritage knows the centrality of Jerusalem to the Jewish people, as has been the case for the past three millennia. The words of Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben Gurion, in 1949 still ring true today: “The attempt to sever Jewish Jerusalem from the State of Israel will not advance the cause of peace in the Middle East or in Jerusalem itself.” Indeed, there can be no peace without Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Other countries, including the United Kingdom, should follow the US in recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving their embassies there. In contrast to much of the perceived wisdom surrounding this issue, such a move would be both just and good for peace. Mark Regev is the Israeli ambassador to the UK
Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) leader Martin Schulz wants Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives to leave the powerful finance ministry to his center-left party in coalition talks, a report in business daily Handelsblatt said. SPD leaders agreed on Friday to open exploratory talks on forming a government with Merkel's center-right bloc, providing a chance to end a rare period of political deadlock in Europe's economic powerhouse after an inconclusive federal election.
By Michelle Nichols UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations Security Council is due to vote on Monday on a draft resolution calling for the withdrawal of U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, diplomats said, a move likely to face a Washington veto. Diplomats say it has broad support among the 15-member council, and while it is unlikely to be adopted, the vote will further isolate Trump on the issue. Trump abruptly reversed decades of U.S. policy this month when he recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, generating outrage from Palestinians.
Russian President Vladimir Putin called US President Donald Trump on Sunday to thank the Central Intelligence Agency for relaying information that lead to the arrest of several individuals since Friday suspected of plotting terrorist attacks in St. Petersburg. According to the Kremlin, the information shared by the CIA “helped to track, identify and detain a group of terrorists preparing to set off explosions in St. Petersburg’s Kazan Cathedral, as well as in other public areas,” Interfax news agency reported. Mr Putin asked Mr Trump to relay his thanks to the director of the CIA and the intelligence officers who first received the information. Over the past several days, authorities in St. Petersburg have detained five individuals as part of a terrorism investigation. On Friday, authorities arrested Yevgeny Yefimov, who told a court that he has illegally manufactured explosives and intended to detonate them in Kazan Cathedral on Dec. 17. An associate of Yefimov’s was detained on Saturday in connection to the plot. Three more were arrested on Sunday as part of the investigation. They have been identified in the Russian press as Shamil Omargadzhiyev of Russia’s Dagestan region, Alishkhan Esmurziyev of Russia’s Ingushetia region, and Firuz Kalavurov, a citizen of neighboring Tajikistan. The Federal Security Service (FSB) on Friday also said it had arrested seven members of an Islamic State cell. The agency made a point in its statement of highlighting that the cell was being directed from abroad via Telegram, a popular encrypted messaging app — leading some to speculate the arrests could be used as a pretence to crack down on the application’s use. Earlier this year, in April, a suicide bomber attacked the St. Petersburg metro. A second, unexploded device was found in a metro station in another part of the city. The attacks highlighted a growing threat of terrorism in Russia, as many Russian-speaking Islamic State fighters began to try to return home from the battlefields of Syria. Mr Putin, according to the Kremlin, told Mr Trump that Russia’s security services would “undoubtedly and without delay” share information pertaining to terrorist threats against the U.S. and its citizens in the future.
The Pentagon ran a secretive five year program to investigate UFO sightings, spending $22 million before it was shut down due to cost, it has been revealed. For the first time, the Department of Defense has acknowledged the existence of the mysterious Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program run from an office in a quiet corner of its sprawling headquarters. There, between 2007 and 2012, a team of researchers working with experts in Nevada probed reports of alien life form and strange sightings over the US skies - a real life versions of the hit TV show The X Files. The enterprise was the passion project of Harry Reid, the retired Senate Majority leader. “I’m not embarrassed or ashamed or sorry I got this thing going,” Mr. Reid said in an interview with the New York Times who first reported the story. “I think it’s one of the good things I did in my congressional service. I’ve done something that no one has done before.” Stock image of a UFO However, although some of the unit's work remains classified, it is not thought any convincing evidence of extraterristrials was discovered. “If anyone says they have the answers now, they’re fooling themselves, Mr Reid said We do not know.” But, he added: “we have to start someplace.” Documents show how the unit, working with a Las Vegas aerospace company run by Mr Reid's long time friend Robert Bigelow, investigated sightings of aircraft moving at high speeds with no signs of propulsion or that hovered mysteriously. Officials with the program also studied videos of encounters between unknown objects and American military aircraft including one released in August of a white oval object, about the size of a commercial plane, chased by two US Navy fighter jets from the aircraft carrier Nimitz off the coast of San Diego in 2004. Yet in 2012, the program was seemingly wound up to the frustration of many. Visitors to the International UFO Museum in Roswell, New Mexico examine a glass-encased alien prop used in the movie "Roswell" Thomas Crosson, a Pentagon spokesman said:“It was determined that there were other, higher priority issues that merited funding, and it was in the best interest of the DoD (Department of Defence) to make a change.” Some say the shadowy work continues despite the funding being cut off. Fornmer military intelligence official, Luis Elizondo, who led the unit, claims he continued his research and continued to work from his office in teh Pentagon until October when he resigned in protest at what he descirbed as excessive secrecy and internal opposition. In his resignation letter to Defense Secretary James Mattis, he reportedly wrote: “Why aren’t we spending more time and effort on this issue?” U.F.O.s have been repeatedly investigated over the decades in the United States, including by the American military. In 1947, the Air Force began a series of studies that investigated more than 12,000 claimed U.F.O. sightings before it was officially ended in 1969. The project, which included a study code-named Project Blue Book, started in 1952, concluded that most sightings involved stars, clouds, conventional aircraft or spy planes, although 701 remained unexplained. Robert C. Seamans Jr., the secretary of the Air Force at the time, said in a memorandum announcing the end of Project Blue Book that it “no longer can be justified either on the ground of national security or in the interest of science.”
Donald Trump 'shouldn't resign over misconduct claims', new Alabama Senator Doug Jones says
The Democrat who defeated Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate election does not think Donald Trump should resign as President despite sexual misconduct allegations against him. Doug Jones, who won a surprise victory against front runner Mr Moore on Tuesday, said the allegations against Mr Trump were made “before the election” and he believes the country needs to “move on and not get distracted by those issues”.