Qatar warns US of ‘serious repercussions’ over Jerusalem move
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US State Department: No change to Jerusalem passport policy

Officials say no plans to amend practices for policy papers, travel announcements or transcripts of official events, or to redraw current official maps

Raoul Wootliff covers politics, corruption and crime for The Times of Israel.

  • Man holding a US passport (Shutterstock)
    Man holding a US passport (Shutterstock)
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the International Conference on Digital Diplomacy at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, on December 7, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the International Conference on Digital Diplomacy at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, on December 7, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
  • European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini talks to the media during a NATO Foreign Affairs Ministers' meeting held at NATO headquarter in Brussels, December 5, 2017. (THIERRY CHARLIER/AFP)
    European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini talks to the media during a NATO Foreign Affairs Ministers' meeting held at NATO headquarter in Brussels, December 5, 2017. (THIERRY CHARLIER/AFP)
  • Palestinian protesters burn an effigy of US President Donald Trump following his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, in the West Bank city of Nablus, on December 7, 2017.  (AFP PHOTO / Jaafar ASHTIYEH)
    Palestinian protesters burn an effigy of US President Donald Trump following his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, in the West Bank city of Nablus, on December 7, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / Jaafar ASHTIYEH)
  • The US and Israeli flags hang at the entrance of Jerusalem Municipality building following US President Donald Trump's decision to recognize the city as the capital of Israel on December 7, 2017. (Ahmad GHARABLI/AFP)
    The US and Israeli flags hang at the entrance of Jerusalem Municipality building following US President Donald Trump's decision to recognize the city as the capital of Israel on December 7, 2017. (Ahmad GHARABLI/AFP)
  • Israeli forces take position during clashes with Palestinian protesters in the West Bank village of Betunia near Ramallah on December 7, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / ABBAS MOMANI)
    Israeli forces take position during clashes with Palestinian protesters in the West Bank village of Betunia near Ramallah on December 7, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / ABBAS MOMANI)
  • An Israeli flag flutters on the roof of a building of the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem, as the Dome of the Rock is seen in the background, on December 5, 2017. (AFP Photo/Thomas Coex)
    An Israeli flag flutters on the roof of a building of the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem, as the Dome of the Rock is seen in the background, on December 5, 2017. (AFP Photo/Thomas Coex)
  • US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman speaking to Fox News on December 7, 2017. (Fox News screenshot)
    US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman speaking to Fox News on December 7, 2017. (Fox News screenshot)
  • Palestinians take part in a protest against US President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, in Gaza City, December 7, 2017. (MOHAMMED ABED/AFP)
    Palestinians take part in a protest against US President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, in Gaza City, December 7, 2017. (MOHAMMED ABED/AFP)
  • A man and a child walk past closed shops in Jerusalem as a general strike was called following US President Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, on December 7, 2017 in east Jerusalem.  / AFP PHOTO / AHMAD GHARABLI
    A man and a child walk past closed shops in Jerusalem as a general strike was called following US President Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, on December 7, 2017 in east Jerusalem. / AFP PHOTO / AHMAD GHARABLI
  • Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attends a press conference with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on December 4, 2017. (AFP Photo/Pool/Fred Dufour)
    Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attends a press conference with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on December 4, 2017. (AFP Photo/Pool/Fred Dufour)
  • Protesters shout slogans and wave the Jordanian flag during a protest near the American Embassy in Amman against US President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on December 7, 2017. (AFP PHOTO/KHALIL MAZRAAWI)
    Protesters shout slogans and wave the Jordanian flag during a protest near the American Embassy in Amman against US President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on December 7, 2017. (AFP PHOTO/KHALIL MAZRAAWI)
  • US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson talks to the media at the end of a NATO Foreign Affairs Ministers' meeting held at NATO headquarter in Brussels, on December 6, 2017. (THIERRY CHARLIER/AFP)
    US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson talks to the media at the end of a NATO Foreign Affairs Ministers' meeting held at NATO headquarter in Brussels, on December 6, 2017. (THIERRY CHARLIER/AFP)
  • Palestinian youths set tires ablaze during a protest against US President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, in Gaza City, December 7, 2017. (MOHAMMED ABED/AFP)
    Palestinian youths set tires ablaze during a protest against US President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, in Gaza City, December 7, 2017. (MOHAMMED ABED/AFP)
  • Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., arrives with his wife Franni Bryson, left, at Capitol Hill in Washington, December 7, 2017.  (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
    Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., arrives with his wife Franni Bryson, left, at Capitol Hill in Washington, December 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Thursday’s events as they unfolded.

Army deploys reinforcements to West Bank after Trump Jerusalem move

The IDF says it’s deploying reinforcements to the West Bank after US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

“Upon the conclusion of the general staff’s situation assessment, it was decided that a number of battalions will serve as reinforcements in the area of (the West Bank), as well as combat intelligence and territorial defense,” the military says in a statement.

“In addition, more standby forces were defined, as part of the (military’s) readiness for  possible developments.”

The army would not specify the number of additional battalions being sent to the West Bank as reinforcements.

As of Thursday morning, there has not been any callup of reserve units.

— Jacob Magid and agencies

Saudi Arabia slams Trump’s ‘irresponsible’ Jerusalem recognition

Saudi Arabia’s royal court, led by King Salman and his powerful son, are condemning the Trump administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

It’s a rare public rebuke by the royal court of its US ally.

Saudi Arabia, a regional powerhouse that could help the White House push through a Middle East settlement, says the kingdom had already warned against this step and “continues to express its deep regret at the US administration’s decision,” describing it “unjustified and irresponsible.”

US President Donald Trump’s move puts the Sunni nation in a bind. The kingdom, particularly its powerful crown prince, Mohammad Bin Salman, enjoys close relations with Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner.

US embassies across much of the Middle East and parts of Africa have warned American citizens of possible protests as a result of Trump’s decision.

— AP

General strike in the West Bank in protest of Trump Jerusalem move

Schools and shops are closed in the West Bank, as Palestinians are protesting US President Donald Trump’s recognition of contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Political groups have called for protest marches in West Bank town centers at noon.

In Wednesday’s move, Trump defied worldwide warnings and insisted that after repeated peace failures it was past time for a new approach, describing his decision as merely based on reality to recognize Jerusalem as the seat of Israel’s government.

Trump also said the United States would move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, though he set no timetable for that.

— AP

Netanyahu says Trump ‘bound himself forever’ with Jerusalem’s history

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lavishes praise on US President Donald Trump for his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a controversial move that upends longstanding US foreign policy.

“President Trump bound himself forever with the history of our capital,” Netanyahu says.

“His name will now be proudly displayed alongside other names in the city’s glorious history,” he adds.

IDF investigating reports of violent clashes along Gaza border

The army is investigating reports of violent clashes with Palestinian protesters along the Gaza border.

Reports in Hebrew and Arabic language media say two Palestinians are injured by IDF fire near the border community of Kibbutz Kissufim.

Iran-backed militia in Iraq threatens to attack US forces over Jerusalem move

An Iranian-backed militia in Iraq is threatening to attack US forces in the country in retaliation for US President Donald Trump recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

“The decision by Trump on Al-Quds (Jerusalem) makes it legitimate to strike the American forces in Iraq,” Al-Nojaba militia chief Akram al-Kaabi says in a statement.

The group, established in 2013 and supported by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, numbers around 1,500 fighters and is part of the Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization) auxiliary force that has fought alongside the army against the Islamic State group.

The US has thousands of troops stationed in Iraq to help in the fight against IS. Officially, the Pentagon says it has 5,262 personnel in Iraq, but other figures released by the US military have put the number at almost 9,000.

— AFP

Scuffles break out in Jerusalem’s Old City at anti-Trump protests

Scuffles break out between Israeli security forces and Palestinian protesters at the Old City’s Damascus Gate in Jerusalem.

Palestinians have declared a general strike in across the West Bank and East Jerusalem to protest against US President Donald Trump’s announcement officially recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

— Dov Lieber

Baghdad protesters, Iraq PM decry US Jerusalem move

Iraq’s government decrying the Trump administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, calling it “unjust” and urging the United States to revoke it.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in a statement on warns of “dangerous consequences” for the region’s stability and the world.

He says the US should “retreat from that decision in order to stop a dangerous escalation that leads to extremism and creates an atmosphere which helps terrorism.”

Meanwhile, hundreds of Iraqis are gathering in Baghdad to protest US President Donald Trump’s move.

The protest leader, Abdul-Latif al-Himaim from Iraq’s Sunni Religious Endowments, tells the protesters: “Jerusalem is our identity, Jerusalem is Arab.”

He says: “You can uproot a palm tree from a grove, but you will not be able to uproot Jerusalem from our hearts and from Palestine.”

— AP

Russia says stance on Jerusalem unchanged after Trump announcement

Russia’s ambassador to Israel says Moscow’s position regarding the Israeli-Palestinian peace process has not changed in the wake of Trump’s announcement declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel.

In a statement, Alexander Shein notes that Russia already recognizes West Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, but says the status of the city must ultimately be determined by both sides in the framework of peace negotiations.

“By recognizing West Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel, we do not impose any solutions on the parties,” the statement says. “Those, including the future status of Jerusalem, should be agreed upon in the direct Palestinian-Israeli negotiations.”

He says the Russian embassy in Israel can move to Jerusalem after a peace agreement based on the two-state solution is reached.

Rex Tillerson defends Trump’s move on Jerusalem, says US still supports 2 states

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson responds to criticism over President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital by saying that he US president is merely recognizing reality.

Tillerson defended Trump’s move on the sidelines of an Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe conference in Vienna. Foreign ministers from the OSCE nations are roundly condemning the decision.

Tillerson says the United States would still support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “if that’s the desire of the two parties.” He says Jerusalem’s final status is still for Israelis and Palestinians to workout.

He says “the whole world” wants a peace process and the US still believes there’s an opportunity.

— AP

West Bank Palestinians attend anti-Trump protest rallies

Palestinians across the West Bank and Jerusalem are participating in protest rallies after US President Donald Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Protesters are carrying Palestinian flags and chanting anti-Trump slogans.

In Tulkarem and Nablus, protesters burned American flags and pictures of Trump.

Low-level clashes break out outside Jerusalem’s Old City and in the West Bank city of Hebron. Both are dispersed by security forces.

Taliban, Afghan president slam Jerusalem move

The Afghan Taliban denounces the US administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as a “reckless step” and say US President Donald Trump’s decision will “fan the flames conflict in the entire world especially the Middle East.

A Taliban statement to the media says that with the decision, America exposed its “colonialist face and declared enmity toward Islam as well as support for policy of occupation and colonization of Muslim lands.”

The statement also calls on Muslims world over and Islamic countries to back the “oppressed Palestinian nation.”

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, meanwhile, says his government is “deeply concerned” over Trump’s move which “hurts the sentiments of the entire Islamic world.”

— AP

EU’s Mogherini: Trump decision could take region ‘backwards to even darker times’

US President Donald Trump’s decision to officially recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital could take the region “backwards to even darker times,” the EU’s diplomatic chief warns.

“President Trump’s announcement on Jerusalem has a very worrying potential impact. It is a very fragile context and the announcement has the potential to send us backwards to even darker times than the ones we’re already living in,” Federica Mogherini tells a press conference in Brussels.

— AFP

Israeli troops driving back anti-Trump protesters in Bethlehem

Border Police officers are driving back hundreds of Palestinian protesters that are throwing rocks and setting tires ablaze in the West Bank city of Bethlehem.

Israeli troops are in full riot gear and are using a water cannon that shoots a foul-smelling liquid at the mostly masked demonstrators. The two sides are separated by a long, empty stretch of road.

Border Police officers spray a foul-smelling liquid toward Palestinian protesters during a violent demonstration in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on December 7, 2017. (Screen capture: Al-Mayadeen News)

The ground near the clash is littered with thrown rocks and other detritus, and the air is filled with smoke from Israeli tear gas and Palestinian tire fires.

— Judah Ari Gross

Russia voices ‘serious concern’ at US Jerusalem move

Russia expresses “serious concern” over US President Donald Trump’s decision to officially recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, saying the move threatened security in the region.

“Moscow views the decisions announced in Washington with serious concern,” the Russian foreign ministry says in a statement, adding that the move risked aggravating already complicated Israeli-Palestinian ties and the security situation.

— AFP

Man holding Palestinian flag smashes windows of Amsterdam kosher restaurant

Police are investigating an incident in which the windows of a kosher restaurant  in a heavily Jewish part of Amsterdam were smashed by a man wearing a Palestinian flag.

The incident at HaCarmel restaurant occurred early Thursday morning, hours after US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The AT5 television station showed a video of the incident, in which a man holding a Palestinian flag and wearing a Palestinian keffiyah on his head smashes the window and kicks down the restaurant’s doors as passersby and two police officers look on. The officers wait until he breaks into the restaurant. They pause as he returns to the street from the restaurant’s interior holding an Israeli flag that he took from there. He throws it at their feet. They then overpower the man and arrest him.

Herman Loonstein, who heads Federative Jewish Netherlands, says the incident at HaCarmel happened when no patrons were inside the restaurant and ended without injury. “But it is nonetheless an attack, a terrorist attack, carried out by a man whose behavior was that of a terrorist,” he tells JTA.

— JTA

Qatar warns US of ‘serious repercussions’ over Jerusalem move

Qatar’s emir warns US President Donald Trump that his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would have “serious repercussions,” according to a statement from Doha’s foreign ministry.

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani “warned of the serious repercussions of this step, which would further complicate the situation in the Middle East and negatively affect the security and stability in the region,” reads a statement from the ministry, quoting the emir in a phone call with Trump.

This file photo taken on May 21, 2017, shows US President Donald Trump (R) speaking with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, during a bilateral meeting at a hotel in the Saudi capital Riyadh. (AFP Photo/Mandel Ngan)

An estimated 20,500 Palestinians live in Qatar, which has a population of around 2.7 million.

Qatar has long been considered a supporter of Hamas and has funded much of the reconstruction of Gaza after the last war with Israel in 2014. It is also home to the former leadership of Hamas, which is considered a terrorist organisation by the United States.

— AFP

Canada rejects Trump Jerusalem move

Canada joins the chorus of countries rejecting the US administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

“Canada’s longstanding position is that the status of Jerusalem can be resolved only as part of a general settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli dispute,” Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland says.

‘‘We are strongly committed to the goal of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East, including the creation of a Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace and security with Israel. We call for calm and continue to support the building of conditions necessary for the parties to find a solution.’’

— Raphael Ahren

Private school in Lebanon regrets showing Israel on a map

A private French school in Lebanon issues an apology following complaints from the parents of a fourth grader that a map in geography class shows Israel— and not Palestine — as the country’s southern neighbor, violating the law.

Lebanon is technically at war with Israel, and Lebanese laws ban dealing with or recognizing Israel, including showing it on maps.

The private school issued a statement apologizing and saying it respects Lebanon’s sovereignty and government school programs. The incident came to public attention when the father of a 9-year-old girl posted the map on his Facebook page, saying “this is what my fourth grade daughter learned in class today.”

— AP

Dozens of Palestinians injured in riots against US Jerusalem move

The Red Crescent says seven Palestinian rioters were injured by Israeli rubber bullets and an eighth was reportedly wounded by live fire in West Bank clashes, as Palestinian raged against US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel the night before.

Dozens of others were treated for tear gas inhalation.

In a confrontation along the security fence opposite the Gazan city of Khan Younis, at least three Palestinians were also reportedly injured by Israeli riot dispersal weaponry.

India says not swayed by US Jerusalem move

India’s Foreign Ministry appears to remain neutral on the question of Jerusalem’s status but suggests it will not be swayed by US President Donald Trump’s announcement recognizing it as the capital of Israel.

“India’s position on Palestine is independent and consistent. It is shaped by our views and interests, and not determined by any third country,” a spokesperson says.

— Raphael Ahren

Israeli city to honor US Jerusalem move with ‘Donald Trump park’

The northern Israeli city of Kiryat Yam will name a new park after US President Donald trump in honor of his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Mayor David Even Tzur says.

“The president of the United States took a brave and unprecedented step that none of his predecessors were willing to take and we must honor him for it,” Tzur said in a statement announcing the decision to establish “Donald Trump Park.”

A graphic representation of “Donald Trump Park” in Kiryat Yam. (Kiryat Yam)

Tzur said that he is looking into the possibility of inviting Trump to the opening of the park slated for April 2018.

Russian military declares its goal to defeat IS in Syria ‘accomplished’

Russia’s defense ministry says its mission to oust Islamic State jihadists from Syria has been “accomplished” and the country is “completely liberated” from the group.

“The Russian armed forces’ goal to defeat armed groups of ISIL terrorist organization in Syria has been accomplished,” senior military officer Sergei Rudskoi tells journalists, using an alternative acronym for the group.

— AFP

Argentina judge orders arrest of ex-president Kirchner for AMIA bombing cover-up

An Argentine judge orders the arrest of former president Cristina Kirchner for allegedly covering up Iranian involvement in a 1994 bombing at a Buenos Aires Jewish center that left 85 people dead, according to a judicial source.

Argentina’s former president and elected senator Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner speaks to reporters as she leaves the court in Buenos Aires on October 26, 2017. (AFP/Eitan Abramovich)

The order also removes the judicial immunity of Kirchner, who served as president from 2007-2015 and is now a senator. She has previously called the case an “absurdity.”

— AFP

Hundreds protest in Pakistan against US Jerusalem move

Hundreds of Islamists are rallying in major cities across Pakistan, condemning US President Donald Trump for declaring the city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The demonstrators dispersed peacefully after rallies in the capital, Islamabad. Similar anti-US rallies were also being held in Karachi, the country’s largest city, and in Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan, as well as in the city of Multan in Punjab province.

Islamabad has asked the United States to reconsider any move that alters the legal and historical status of Jerusalem.

Muslim-majority Pakistan has already reiterated its support for the Palestinians, who claim East Jerusalem as the capital of their hoped-for state.

— with AP

Abbas meets Jordanian king to coordinate response to US Jerusalem move

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas meets with Jordan’s King Abdullah II in Amman in order to coordinate a response to US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on Wednesday.

— Dov Leiber

Hezbollah denounces US move on Jerusalem

Lebanon’s Hezbollah says the US declaration of divided Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has closed all paths to negotiations, calling it a “treacherous and malicious aggression” against the rights of Palestinians.

Hassan Fadlallah, the spokesman for the terrorist group’s parliamentary bloc, says that the US announcement reaffirms that the only way to restore rights is through armed “resistance.”

Fadlallah said the decision is likely to have “catastrophic repercussions” on regional and international stability, urging Arabs and Muslims to move fast to respond.

He said US President Donald Trump’s decision “intentionally” bypassed the United Nations and international resolutions and was a “rude belittling of the Arab and Muslim worlds’ people and states.”

— AP

Israel closes West Bank crossing amid protests

Israel closes the Gilboa Crossing in the northern West Bank after Palestinians throw rocks at it during a violent demonstration, the Defense Ministry says.

“The reopening of the crossing will be dependent upon situational assessments,” the ministry adds.

— Judah Ari Gross

3 Palestinian protesters arrested for blocking Jerusalem road

Three Palestinian protesters have been arrested for blocking a central thoroughfare in East Jerusalem during protests of US President’s Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, police say.

Demonstrators blocked the Sultan Suleiman road outside of the Old City, throwing bottles and garbage at officers who tried to break up the protest.

Security forces prepare to confront Palestinian protesters outside the Damascus Gate of the Old City in Jerusalem, on December 7, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Police say they succeeded in opening the road and arrested those leading the clashes.

Trudeau says Canada embassy to remain in Tel Aviv

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says that Canada’s embassy in Israel will remain in Tel Aviv, in a split with its neighbor and ally, the United States.

“We will not be moving Canada’s embassy from Tel Aviv,” Trudeau says during a visit to Guangzhou, China, broadcast nationally in Canada.

Police reject social media rumors of planned Jerusalem attack

Police reject rumors spreading on social media that they are bracing for an attack in Jerusalem tomorrow and have recommended that the public stay off the streets.

A police spokesperson tells The Times of Israel that there is no truth to a message being widely distributed in both English and Hebrew claiming that the force has intelligence of a “big attack.”

“Police have some internal intel regarding a big attack in Jerusalem tomorrow. They are already loading up man power and security all around the city.
Police are requesting not to be around major areas, town or shuk and to limit leaving the house,” the message, which has been circulating on WhatsApp and Facebook, reads.

The spokesperson says that police have not received any such intelligence nor have they recommended that public stay out of the city center.

— Raoul Wootliff

Los Angeles Jewish institutions close as Skirball fire threatens

Los Angeles-area synagogues and Jewish institutions close in the wake of a major fire, dubbed the Skirball Fire after the Jewish cultural center that is in its path.

Leo Baeck Temple, Stephen Wise Temple, American Jewish University’s Familian Campus and the Skirball Cultural Center all closed due to the fire, the Los Angeles Jewish Journal reports. The institutions’ Torah scrolls were removed for safekeeping, according to the report.

A firefighter hoses down flareups at the two story Hawaiian Village Apartment complex that burnt to the ground during the Thomas wildfire in Ventura, California, on December 5, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / MARK RALSTON)

The Skirball Fire is one of several fires burning in southern California since Monday. The other fires are known as the Thomas, Rye and Creek fires burning in Ventura County, Santa Clarita and Sylmar.

The Valley Beth Shalom Synagogue located in Encino, California, is housing the Torah scrolls from Leo Baeck Temple, Stephen Wise Temple and Milken Community Schools, about 25 in all, until the danger is past.

— JTA

Jordanians torch Trump pictures over Jerusalem move

Jordanian demonstrators torch the US flag and pictures of US President Donald Trump during a protest near the American embassy in Amman to denounce his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Hundreds of people are taking part in the rally in the Abdoun neighborhood of west Amman chanting slogans hostile to Trump and Israel and waving the Jordanian and Palestinian flags.

Protesters shout slogans and wave the Jordanian flag during a protest near the American embassy in Amman against US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on December 7, 2017. (AFP PHOTO/KHALIL MAZRAAWI)

“No American embassy on Jordanian soil,” they chanted, saying the United States is “the source of terrorism” in the world.

They also chanted “Death to Israel.”

Similar protests were held in universities across Jordan, with students denouncing Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem and calling for a boycott of the United States.

At a protest on the main Jordan University campus in Amman, thousands of students demonstrated chanted “down with American hegemony” and “long live Jerusalem.”

— AFP

Al Franken expected to resign in Senate speech

Democratic Senator Al Franken, under mounting pressure from within his own camp over multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, is expected to resign in an address from the Senate floor later today.

A friend in Franken’s Minnesota congressional delegation, Democratic Representative Keith Ellison, says he believes Franken “will do the right thing and resign,” and Minnesota public radio cited a party official saying the two-term senator does intend to quit.

But Franken insisted through his Twitter feed late Wednesday that he was still discussing the issue with his family, and that “any reports of a final decision are inaccurate.”

He is scheduled to address his colleagues at 11:45 a.m. EST, 6:45 p.m. Israel time.

— with AFP

Netanyahu spoke with Trump 3 times in recent days — source

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke three times with US President Donald Trump in recent days, discussing with him the “importance” of his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a well-placed Israeli source say.

Netanyahu reasserted to Trump that the status quo on the Temple Mount will be preserved.

Briefing reporters about the international reactions to Trump’s dramatic declaration Wednesday, the source says that the responses from Central and Eastern European countries were, as expected, “measured.”

“Israel’s problem is focused on Western European countries, which can be seen also from their reactions to President’s Trump statement,” the source says.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the International Conference on Digital Diplomacy at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, on December 7, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

But Jerusalem is unfazed, the source adds. “Israel is acting in several other international arenas, creating new relationships in Latin America, Asia and Africa in order to pursue its agenda.”

Netanyahu is due to fly to the “lion’s den” in Paris and Brussels early next week to confront Western European positions toward Israel, the source says.

The prime minister is scheduled to meet French President Emmanuel Macron as well as a meeting with European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and all 28 foreign ministers of EU member states.

Netanyahu is the first sitting Israeli prime minister to meet with all EU foreign ministers in over two decades.

— Raphael Ahren

Rocket alert siren sounded on Gaza border

An incoming rocket alert siren goes off near the Gaza border.

The alarm is heard in the Sha’ar Hanegev and Hof Ashkelon regions.

The army says it is investigating.

Netanyahu likens Trump’s Jerusalem move to Israel founding, Balfour Declaration

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is one of the key events in the Jewish state’s history, comparing it to some of the most important milestones in the country’s establishment.

“There are major moments in the history of Zionism, the Balfour Declaration, the founding of the state, the liberation of Jerusalem and Trump’s announcement yesterday,” says Netanyahu in a video published on social media.

“I told him: ‘My friend the president, you are going to make history.’ Yesterday, he made history,” he adds.

Netanyahu says Trump’s decision was embraced by Israelis of all stripes and quoted a religious verse to invoke the Jewish people’s long-held emotional attachment to the city.

“This is a festive and unifying moment, for the right, the left, religious, secular,” he says. “We are making Jerusalem our chief joy.”

Army: Rockets fired from Gaza, land in sea

The army says that rocket sirens heard on the Gaza border were caused by two rockets fired from the Gaza Strip which landed in the sea.

Sirens were heard in the the Sha’ar Hanegev and Hof Ashkelon regions.

The rockets come amid rising tensions in Gaza and the West Bank following President Donald Trump’s announcement that the US recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Nasrallah says Al Aqsa mosque ‘in real danger’ after US Jerusalem move

Responding to US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Hassan Nasrallah,  the head of the Lebanese terror organization Hezbollah, says that the Al Aqsa mosque on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount — the third holiest shrine in Islam — is “in real danger, and it may be demolished at any time.”

“We all know that the Zionist entity doesn’t respect international resolution(s),” he tells Al-Manar, a Lebanese TV station affiliated with Hezbollah, nor does it take into account international condemnations, caring only about what the US thinks, he adds.

Nasrallah says the move is “a second Balfour Declaration,” and calls on Muslims to flood social networks with protests against the move.

Franken to resign from US Senate after harassment claims

US Senator Al Franken announces Thursday he will resign in the wake of multiple sexual harassment claims against him, the second prominent Democrat to be forced out over misconduct allegations after John Conyers of Michigan.

Senator Al Franken (Democrat-Minnesota) attends a committee hearing on Capital Hill in Washington, DC, on November 29, 2017. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images/AFP

“Today I am announcing that in the coming weeks I will be resigning as a member of the United States Senate,” says Franken, a former comedian who has been accused by at least seven women of inappropriately touching them.

Austria says Jerusalem final status ‘should be a result of direct negotiations’

Austria’s Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz says his country will not be following the United States in its decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

“I think you know our position. “Our position here in Austria, but also the position of our partners in the EU is very clear,” Kurz tells journalists in a briefing with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson after asked about Austria’s stance on the move.

“We think that the final status of Jerusalem should be a result of direct negotiations between two parties there, and I think we should do anything possible to avoid further escalation in the region,” he says.

Israel slams EU for rejecting Trump’s Jerusalem recognition

Isreal’s Foreign Ministry hits back at European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini following her criticism of US President Donald Trump’s move, saying continued rejection of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would harm chances for peace.

Speaking earlier, Mogherini said Trump’s “announcement has the potential to send us backwards to even darker times than the ones we are already living in,” reiterating the EU’s policy that Jerusalem should be the capital of both Israel and a future Palestinian state.

She also called for “an even stronger engagement for peace” during “this difficult moment” and said the bloc will now “engage even more with the parties and with our regional and international partners” in the pursuit of a peace deal.

Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, speaking to reporters in Brussels, Belgium, Oct. 19, 2017. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images via JTA)

The Foreign Ministry in response calls her remarks “surprising.”

“The insistence that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel is a denial of an indisputable historical fact,” it says. “Any denial of this simple truth furthers peace by creating expectations among the Palestinians that are divorced from reality.”

“President Trump took a courageous and just step that advances the chance for peace by speaking the truth,” it adds.

UN condemns ‘heinous’ sale of migrants in Libya as slaves

The UN Security Council is condemning the sale of African migrants into slavery in Libya as “heinous abuses of human rights” that may constitute crimes against humanity.

A presidential statement read at an open council meeting calls for speedy investigation of the reported sales in order to bring the perpetrators to justice.

The statement follows an emergency meeting of the council on Nov. 28 called by France in response to CNN’s release of video footage showing African men being sold at a slave market in Libya.

The Security Council emphasized “that all migrants should be treated with humanity and dignity.”

The council urged Libyan authorities and all UN member states to comply with their obligations under international law including respect for the rights of all migrants.

— AP

After US announcement, Israel said planning 6,000 new homes in East Jerusalem

Following yesterday’s announcement by US President Donald Trump that he will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Israel’s government is planning to build thousands of new homes in the city, including some 6,000 apartments in East Jerusalem, Hadashot news reports.

In total, the plans being pushed by Housing and Construction Minister Yoav Galant (Kulanu) include 14,000 new homes in four different neighborhoods, the report says.

One thousand new apartments are said to be slated for the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Pisgat Zeev and a further 5,000 in nearby Atarot, just outside Ramallah. In addition, 3,000 apartments will be built in the West Jerusalem neighborhood of Katamon and 5,000 in Reches Lavan, a new West Jerusalem neighborhood bordering on the Green Line to the south of the city.

All apartments are reported to be entirely new building projects and not a further authorization of previously approved plans.

IDF said to respond to Gaza rocket fire

Palestinian media reports the IDF is retaliating to the rocket launches from the Gaza Strip earlier this evening by firing tank shells at a Hamas position in the coastal enclave.

The army did not immediately comment on the reports.

US State Department: No change to Jerusalem passport policy

The US State Department says that despite President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, it does not plan to change several longstanding policies regarding Jerusalem that were carefully crafted to avoid offending one side or the other.

Current policy holds that American citizens born in Jerusalem have only the city as their birthplace in their passports, unless they were born before Israel’s creation in 1948. In those cases, they can list “Palestine” as their birthplace.

Illustrative photo of a man holding a US passport (Shutterstock)

The State Department tells AP it will not revise the policy, which was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2015.

“At this time, there are no changes to our current practices regarding place of birth on Consular Reports of Birth Abroad and US Passports,” the department says in response to a query.

State Department officials also say that there are no plans to make changes in documents such as policy papers, travel announcements or transcripts of official events or to reprint current official maps.

— with AP

Rocket fired from Gaza lands in Israel, IDF responds with tank fire, airstrikes

A third rocket is fired from the Gaza Strip at Israel, striking an empty field in the south of the country, the army says.

In response to that, as well as to an attempted rocket attack earlier in the evening that fell short, the IDF attacks two Hamas positions in Gaza with tank fire and airstrikes, the army says.

A different terror group in the Strip, the al-Tawheed Brigades, took responsibility for the launch, but the army targeted Hamas because it sees the Gaza-ruling group as responsible for any attack coming from the coastal enclave.

— Judah Ari Gross

Senior Palestinian official says Trump meant all of Jerusalem

Senior Fatah official Mohammad Shtayeh says US President Donald Trump did not leave any room for the boundaries of Jerusalem to be negotiated in the future.

“If the president kept the door open for negotiations on the borders of Jerusalem, he could have said the Palestinians have the right to a capital in East Jerusalem,” he tells reporters at a press conference in Beit Jala, a town near Bethlehem in the West Bank.

“The Jerusalem defined by the Americans is the Jerusalem defined by Netanyahu,” he adds, meaning the entire municipal boundaries as currently defined by Israel, which includes West and East Jerusalem.

Shtayeh, who has been a senior member of the Palestinian negotiation team since the early 1990s, explains, “When we refer to Jerusalem, we refer to Jerusalem that was there before 1967.”

— Dov Lieber

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Qatar warns US of ‘serious repercussions’ over Jerusalem move

Qatar’s emir warns US President Donald Trump that his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would have “serious repercussions,” according to a statement from Doha’s foreign ministry.

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani “warned of the serious repercussions of this step, which would further complicate the situation in the Middle East and negatively affect the security and stability in the region,” reads a statement from the ministry, quoting the emir in a phone call with Trump.

This file photo taken on May 21, 2017, shows US President Donald Trump (R) speaking with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, during a bilateral meeting at a hotel in the Saudi capital Riyadh. (AFP Photo/Mandel Ngan)

An estimated 20,500 Palestinians live in Qatar, which has a population of around 2.7 million.

Qatar has long been considered a supporter of Hamas and has funded much of the reconstruction of Gaza after the last war with Israel in 2014. It is also home to the former leadership of Hamas, which is considered a terrorist organisation by the United States.

— AFP