Trump slams China, Russia in ‘America First’ security strategy
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Unveiling security policy, Trump singles out Iran, North Korea as global threats

American president says when he took office, threats against US included ‘rogue regimes,’ ‘radical Islamist terror groups’ and ‘terrorists’ in the Middle East

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

  • US President Donald Trump speaks on his national security strategy at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, DC on December 18, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN)
    US President Donald Trump speaks on his national security strategy at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, DC on December 18, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN)
  • US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley meets Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, June 7, 2017. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
    US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley meets Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, June 7, 2017. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
  • US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley (R) speaks during the UN Security Council meeting over the situation in the Middle East on December 18, 2017, at UN Headquarters in New York.  (AFP PHOTO / KENA BETANCUR)
    US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley (R) speaks during the UN Security Council meeting over the situation in the Middle East on December 18, 2017, at UN Headquarters in New York. (AFP PHOTO / KENA BETANCUR)
  • Danny Danon, Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations, addresses the UN Security Council meeting on October 18, 2017. (UN Photo/Rick Bajornas)
    Danny Danon, Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations, addresses the UN Security Council meeting on October 18, 2017. (UN Photo/Rick Bajornas)
  • A Security Council meeting on November 15, 2017. (UN/Kim Haughton)
    A Security Council meeting on November 15, 2017. (UN/Kim Haughton)
  • Palestinian envoy to the UN Riyad Mansour at the UN Security Council, December 8, 2017 (United Nations)
    Palestinian envoy to the UN Riyad Mansour at the UN Security Council, December 8, 2017 (United Nations)
  • Workers of the Teva company protest against a plan to lay off hundreds of employees, outside the TEVA Pharmaceutical Industries building in Jerusalem, December 17, 2017. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)
    Workers of the Teva company protest against a plan to lay off hundreds of employees, outside the TEVA Pharmaceutical Industries building in Jerusalem, December 17, 2017. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)
  • Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (left) meets with Saudi King Salman in Riyadh on November 7, 2017. (Thaer Ghanaim/Wafa)
    Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (left) meets with Saudi King Salman in Riyadh on November 7, 2017. (Thaer Ghanaim/Wafa)

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

Trump: Israel not the cause of Mideast instability

US President Donald Trump is poised to outline a new national security strategy later today asserting that Israel is not the root cause of instability in the Middle East.

The strategy document asserts that “for generations the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has been understood as the prime irritant preventing peace and prosperity in the region.”

“Today, the threats from radical jihadist terrorist organizations and the threat from Iran are creating the realization that Israel is not the cause of the region’s problems,” Trump’s doctrine says.

“States have increasingly found common interests with Israel in confronting common threats.”

Trump’s strategy envisions nations in a perpetual state of competition, reverses Obama-era warnings on climate change, and de-emphasizes multinational agreements that have dominated the United States’ foreign policy since the Cold War.

— with AP

Toronto police says Jewish billionaire couple was strangled

Toronto homicide detectives have taken over the investigation of the deaths of billionaire Barry Sherman and his wife after autopsies showed they died from “ligature neck compression.”

Police released a statement yesterday reporting the cause of death. Authorities also identified pharmaceutical magnate Sherman and his wife, Honey, as the two people found dead in a north Toronto mansion Friday.

Police call the deaths suspicious, but on Friday also said that there were no signs of forced entry and that they were not looking for any suspect.

The Sherman family issued a statement Saturday urging police to conduct a “thorough, intensive and objective criminal investigation” into the deaths and calling on the media to avoid speculating on the cause of the deaths.

Canadian Business magazine recently estimated his worth at 4.77 billion Canadian dollars ($3.65 billion), making him the 15th richest person in the country.

— AP

Iran reopens border posts with Iraqi Kurdistan

Iran reopens all its border crossings with Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region, a foreign ministry spokesman says, after their closure over a controversial independence vote.

Bahram Ghassemi says the two frontier crossings of Haji Omran and Parwezkhan had been reopened, without giving a specific date, after the Bashmaq frontier post began working again in October.

Iran closed the border crossings after Iraqi Kurds on September 25 voted overwhelmingly in favour of independence at a referendum Baghdad insisted was illegal.

Iran and Turkey, which have Kurdish communities of their own, were also against the poll.

— AFP

Abbas to discuss Jerusalem moves with Saudi king in Riyadh tomorrow

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will meet with Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman in Riyadh tomorrow to discuss the US President Donald Trump’s recent decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Palestinian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Bassam al-Agha says the visit comes in the context of constant coordination between Riyadh and Ramallah, according to the PA’s official news site Wafa.

Al-Agha underscores Riyadh’s strong rejection of the American declaration on Jerusalem.

— Dov Lieber

CIA chief Pompeo meets with King Salman in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has met with the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Mike Pompeo, in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

The official Saudi Press Agency says the two discussed bilateral relations and regional developments on Monday.

On the Saudi side, the meeting was attended by the king’s son, Prince Khalid bin Salman, who is the Saudi ambassador to Washington, as well as Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, the head of General Intelligence Khalid al-Humaidan and royal court chief Khalid al-Issa.

Earlier this month, Pompeo said he’d sent a letter to Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite fighting Quds Force, warning him that the United States would hold Tehran accountable for any attacks it conducted on American interests in Iraq.

Iran and Saudi Arabia are also regional foes.

— AP

New York Jewish family reportedly killed in house fire

A mother and three of her children were killed, and ten others were injured in Brooklyn house fire last night.

The fire broke out on the second floor of home at 1945 E. 14th St. near Ave S in Sheepshead Bay around 2:30 a.m and then spread to the attic.

A woman, 40, two of her sons, 11 and 7, and a daughter, 3, died in the flames, according to FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro, CBS New York report. They were found on the second floor of the building.

Hebrew media reported the home belonged to an ultra-Orthodox Jewish family.

Labor union chief calls on all Teva workers to strike tomorrow

Avi Nissenkorn, head of the Histadrut labor federation in Israel, is calling on all Teva workers to declare a general strike tomorrow as part of the ongoing protests against expected mass layoffs at the pharmaceutical giant.

Netanyahu, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Minister of Economy and Industry Eli Cohen are scheduled to meet with Teva CEO Kare Schultz tomorrow to try and figure out how best to lessen the blow of the Israeli drug-maker’s plans to cut its local workforce.

Knesset speaker says all lawmakers must attend Pence speech

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein calls on all Israeli lawmakers to attend US Vice President Mike Pence’s plenum address on Thursday.

“The presence of all Knesset members in this meeting is extremely important,” Edelstein tells lawmakers.

“Those who are absent will damage the Knesset’s image, express contempt for Israel’s interests and, no less serious, will disappoint those who sent them to this house — the citizens of Israel.”

“On Thursday, they will be looking to see if we are honoring our role and fill the plenum or have to again witness the shameful images of the empty plenary,” Edelstein says.

Palestinians to seek UN backing if US vetoes Jerusalem resolution

The Palestinians will seek United Nations General Assembly support if the US vetoes a Security Council resolution against its decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a Palestinian Authority minister says.

The Security Council is expected to vote later today on a draft resolution rejecting US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The vote, called by Egypt, is likely to see the US use its veto power.

PA foreign minister Riyad al-Malki says they would seek support at the General Assembly if the US ambassador Nikki Haley exercises Washington’s veto.

While Haley considers “the veto a source of pride and strength, we will show her their position is isolated and rejected internationally,” Malki says in a statement.

The UN General Assembly is expected to hold a plenary session tomorrow, including a discussion on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.

— AFP

Austria swears in right-wing leader amid anti-Nazi protests

Sebastian Kurz is sworn in as Austria’s new chancellor, making him Europe’s youngest leader at age 31, after his Austrian People’s Party formed a coalition with the nationalist Freedom Party that is expected to move the country’s politics to the right.

About 6,000 people protest outside President Alexander Van der Bellen’s office with signs like “we don’t want any Nazi pigs” and “Nazis out” as Kurz and his new Cabinet were sworn in, the dpa news agency reports.

The two parties have pledged to tighten the country’s asylum and immigration regulations while maintaining a firm commitment to the European Union.

Kurz has moved his traditionally centrist party to the right, particularly on the issues of migration and Muslims, but has avoided the inflammatory rhetoric of the Freedom Party, which itself has publicly disassociated itself from decades of covert anti-Semitism, but continues to attract a neo-Nazi fringe.

Political opponents have expressed particular concern that the Freedom Party has control of the important Interior, Defense and Foreign Ministries. Its leader, Heinz-Christian Strache, is now vice chancellor.

— AP

Foreign journalists reject police assertion that attacker pretended to be a reporter

Foreign journalists in Israel reject yesterday’s assertion by police that the Palestinian man who stabbed a Border Police officer near the West Bank city of Ramallah on Friday had been pretending to be a journalist in the moments before the attack, which allowed him to get closer to Israeli troops unnoticed.

In a statement, the Foreign Press Association says 29-year-old Mohammed Aqal “did not identify himself as a journalist, was not dressed in the protective gear of nearby journalists, did not speak to the journalists and did not have any equipment that would mark him as a journalist.”

The FPA says it rejects “attempts by police to link this act of violence with the presence of accredited journalists doing their work,” and condemns “disguis[ing] oneself as a journalist or exploit the presence of legitimate journalists to carry out a violent act.”

Ramping up rhetoric, Assad calls US-backed Kurdish fighters ‘traitors’

Syrian President Bashar Assad calls US-backed Kurdish fighters “traitors,” ramping up the rhetoric against the forces controlling more than a quarter of the country.

“When we talk about those referred to as ‘the Kurds,’ they are in fact not just Kurds. All those who work for a foreign country, mainly those under American command… are traitors,” he says.

“This is how we see these groups working for the Americans,” he said.

Assad had criticized the semi-autonomous Kurds in the past, but his latest remarks, released by the presidency on social media, were more virulent than usual.

— AFP

Full text of draft UN Security Council resolution rejecting US policy shift on Jerusalem

Text of Egyptian-drafted resolution rejecting US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital to be voted on at the UN Security Council on December 18, 2017.

DRAFT RESOLUTION

The Security Council,

Reaffirming its relevant resolutions, including resolutions 242 (1967), 252 (1968), 267 (1969), 298 (1971), 338 (1973), 446 (1979), 465 (1980), 476 (1980), 478 (1980), and 2334 (2016),
Guided by the purpose and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and reaffirming inter alia, the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force,

Bearing in mind the specific status of the Holy City of Jerusalem and, in particular, the need for protection and preservation of the unique spiritual, religious and cultural dimensions of the City, as foreseen in the relevant United Nations resolutions,

Stressing that Jerusalem is a final status issue to be resolved through negotiations in line with relevant United Nations resolutions,

Expressing in this regard its deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem

Affirms that any decisions and actions which purport to have altered, the character, status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded in compliance with relevant resolutions of the Security Council, and in this regard, calls upon all States to refrain from the establishment of diplomatic missions in the Holy City of Jerusalem, pursuant to resolution 478 (1980) of the Security Council;

Demands that all States comply with Security Council resolutions regarding the Holy City of Jerusalem, and not to recognize any actions or measures contrary to those resolutions;

Reiterates its call for the reversal of the negative trends on the ground that are imperiling the two-State solution and for the intensification and acceleration of international and regional efforts and support aimed at achieving, without delay, a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East on the basis of the relevant United Nations resolutions, the Madrid terms of reference, including the principle of land for peace, the Arab Peace Initiative and the Quartet Roadmap and an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967;

Decides to remain seized of the matter.

‘Significant’ security incident at UK military base used by US Air Force

British police say they are responding to a “significant” incident at a Royal Air Force base used by the US Air Force.

Police say it happened at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk and are urging the public to stay away from the area for the time being.

Police say further details would be released shortly.

British media suggested an individual in a vehicle tried to force his way through a checkpoint, but this wasn’t confirmed.

RAF officials referred calls to police.

— AP

Palestinian charged with attempted murder for Qusra incident

An Israeli military court in the West Bank charges Muhammad Wadi with attempted murder for attacking a group of Israeli settlers in the northern West Bank village of Qusra last month that turned deadly.

Prosecutors say Wadi attacked one of the adult escorts accompanying children on the hike, prompting him to then open fire on the group of Palestinians, killing one of them.

France, UK urge UN members to reject shift in US policy on Jerusalem

The United Kingdom and France express support for an Egyptian-drafted Security Council resolution rejecting US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

French envoy Francois Delattre says Jerusalem is the “key to peace between Israelis and Palestinians,” and says change in US policy “brings us back to a century ago.”

British envoy Matthew Rycroft hails US efforts to broker regional peace, but says the status of Jerusalem must be determined in peace talks.

“US will continue to play an extremely important role in finding peace between Israelis and Palestinians,” he says.

Haley says past anti-settlement UN resolutions enabled Palestinians to reject peace

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley says that under the Trump administration, the US would not have voted in favor of last year’s Resolution 2334 that condemned Israeli settlement building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Haley says the resolution passed under the Obama administration “put peace further out of reach by injecting itself between the two parties.”

She says Resolution 2334 “gave a pass to Palestinian leaders who have rejected one peace proposal after another.”

Haley says resolution passed by the Security Council in December 2016 is a “stain on America’s conscience,” and the Trump administration “would not make that mistake in the future.”

The US ambassador also criticizes the UN, which “consistently singles out Israel for condemnation.”

New Austria coalition marks ‘dangerous development,’ says UN rights chief

The UN rights chief says the far-right tilt of Austria’s new coalition government marked a “dangerous development,” and cautioned against “the peddling of fear” in European politics.

“I am very worried,” the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein tells AFP in an interview, cautioning that the new Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s decision to take hard-right positions on things like immigration to win support marked “a dangerous development… in the political life of Europe.”

— AFP

Israel’s UN envoy: Resolutions won’t affect Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem

Israel’s ambassador to the UN Danny Danon says no Security Council resolution can make Jerusalem not be Israel’s capital.

Speaking ahead of a vote on a draft resolution that would require the US to rescind its recent declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Danon urges members of the Security Council to “end its focus” on Jerusalem.

“Members of the Council can vote again and again — for a hundred more times. It won’t change the simple fact that Jerusalem is, has been, and always will be the capital of Israel,” Danon says.

He also thanks the US for “standing with Israel and staying loyal to the truth.”

Passenger train derails onto highway in Washington state

An Amtrak train has derailed roughly 40 miles (64 kilometers) south of Seattle, spilling cars onto a busy interstate.

The train derailed just before 8 a.m. this morning. All southbound lanes of Interstate 5 were closed south of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and motorists were being warned to avoid the area.

No other information was immediately available.

The train derailed just south of Tacoma, Washington.

— AP

Man detained after incident at UK base used by US Air Force

A British military air base in England used by the US Air Force was locked down after a disturbance of some kind, but the emergency measure ended when a man was taken into custody, police and Air Force officials say.

American service members fired shots during the incident at the Royal Air Force base in Suffolk, according to county police. No one was injured other than the detained man, who suffered cuts and bruises, police said.

The nature of the disturbance was unclear, although British media reports that a car tried to ram the perimeter gates at RAF Mildenhall.

Suffolk police say they are not looking for any other suspects at the site.

The base located about 80 miles (130 kilometers) north of London is home to 3,000 military personnel and their families. The US, which has long made extensive use of air bases in Britain, has air-refueling assets stationed there.

— AP

Egypt says police kill 5 gunmen near Cairo

Egypt says police have killed five suspected militants in a shootout just outside Cairo.

The Interior Ministry, which oversees security forces, say police launched a raid against the gunmen on Monday in el-Obour, just north of the capital. It says another 10 suspects were arrested in followup raids nearby and in the northern city of Alexandria.

The statement says the suspects were part of an extremist group plotting to attack churches. Rifles and ammunition were found at the scenes of the raids, it added.

Egypt has been struggling to combat an Islamic State-led insurgency in the northern Sinai Peninsula. IS and other groups have carried out a string of attacks across the country in recent years.

— AP

Lebanon arrests Uber driver suspected of murdering British diplomat

Lebanese authorities arrest an Uber driver suspected of killing a British woman who worked for the UK Embassy in Beirut and whose body was found beside a motorway north of the city with a rope around her neck, officials say.

In an emailed statement, Uber says it was working with authorities “to assist their investigation in any way we can.” Lebanese media reported that the suspect, a Lebanese citizen, was an Uber driver. Police have refused to confirm or deny those reports, or say whether the man had a criminal record.

The woman, identified by British media and friends as Rebecca Dykes, was found on Saturday. She was last seen at a bar in Beirut’s Gemayze district Friday night. Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency says the driver picked her up and drove to a nearby neighborhood where she lived, but did not drop her off there.

Instead, the suspect drove the car to the site where Dykes’ body was later found. NNA says the man tried to sexually assault her, then strangled her with a rope. The police have not confirmed those details.

A police official says the woman’s murder was a “criminal act” and was not politically motivated, adding that the suspect had confessed to the killing.

— AP

Yair Netanyahu countersues think tank for defamation

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s son, Yair, files a lawsuit against a left-wing think tank for defamation and invasion of privacy, over a scathing Facebook post in August.

The younger Netanyahu is seeking NIS 130,000 ($37,000) in damages from Molad, saying its post entitled, “Five things you did not know about Yair Netanyahu,” crossed all red lines.

The suit comes in response to a claim filed by Molad seeking NIS 130,000 from Netanyahu, saying his public criticism of the organization amounted to libel.

Fatah calls for ‘Day of Rage’ to coincide with Pence visit to Israel

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party calls for a day of rage in the Palestinian territories and across the world on Wednesday to coincide with the visit of US President Mike Pence to Israel.

Separately, Abbas signs 22 international agreements and treaties meant to strengthen “the state of Palestine on a global level,” the PA’s official news site Wafa reports without elaborating.

— Dov Lieber

Israel to limit ties with Austria’s far-right Freedom party

Israel says it work with the new Austrian government “for the moment,” but would limit contacts with ministries run by the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe) to civil servants.

A government statement says Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also holds the foreign affairs portfolio, is in “direct contact” with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz of the conservative People’s Party (OeVP).

It says Netanyahu had instructed the foreign ministry to draw up guidelines on how the Jewish state would “conduct itself” in its dealings with the new ruling coalition in Vienna.

“For the moment, Israel will maintain working relations with the professional echelon of the government ministries headed by a minister from the Freedom Party,” the Hebrew-language statement adds.

Founded by former Nazis, the FPOe is set to take control of the important Interior, Defense and Foreign Ministries.

“The state of Israel wishes to emphasize its absolute commitment to the struggle against anti-Semitism and commemoration of the Holocaust,” the statement says.

US blocks UN resolution requiring US to rescind Jerusalem declaration

The US vetoes a Security Council resolution that would require Washington to rescind its declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a move aimed at showing the depth of global opposition to President Donald Trump’s action.

The US was the sole member of the council to oppose the Egyptian-drafted text, with the other 14 members voting in favor of the resolution.

Haley says Jerusalem resolution ‘an insult’ that won’t be forgotten

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley slams the Egyptian-drafted resolution rejecting US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Haley called the resolution “an insult” that won’t be forgotten, saying the UN forced the US to cast a veto simply because of its right to decide where to put its embassy.

“The United States will not be told by any country where to put our embassy,” she tells Security Council members.

Haley slams claims that Trump’s December 6 announcement is hampering Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

“It’s scandalous to say we are putting back peace efforts,” she says. “What does it gain the Palestinians to put roadblocks to negotiations?”

“A peace process that denies Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is not a peace process.”

Netanyahu thanks US for ‘defeating lies’ with veto of Jerusalem resolution

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanks the US for vetoing a Security Council resolution that would have required President Donald Trump to rescind his declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

In a video message, Netanyahu invokes the Jewish festival of Hanukkah in thanking US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, for “lighting the candle of truth.”

“You dispel the darkness. One defeated the many. Truth defeated lies. Thank you, President Trump. Thank you, Nikki Haley,” Netanyahu says.

Army says disabled Gaza man killed in clashes not intentionally shot

The army says it did not intentionally shoot a disabled Palestinian man, Ibrahim Abu Thurayeh, who was killed in a riot along the Gaza security fence on Friday, but could not determine his cause of death.

“No live fire was aimed at Abu Thurayeh. It is impossible to determine whether Abu Thurayeh was injured as a result of riot dispersal means or what caused his death,” the army says in a statement.

Following reports of Abu Thurayeh’s death, the army launched an investigation, the results of which were presented to the head of the Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir, earlier today.

“The initial investigation indicates that no moral or professional failures were identified,” the army says.

— Judah Ari Gross

Palestinians slam ‘unacceptable’ US veto of Jerusalem UN resolution

The Palestinian government slams the “unacceptable” US veto of a draft UN resolution against President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

A spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas says the veto was “unacceptable and threatens the stability of the international community because it disrespects it.”

The 14 other countries on the Security Council voted in favor, but US Ambassador Nikki Haley exercised the American veto.

— AFP

9 new Nazi war crimes cases sent to German state prosecutors

The main federal agency that investigates Nazi war crimes in Germany has turned over nine new cases to state authorities for possible prosecution.

Berlin’s taz newspaper reportes that the cases involve guards from the Auschwitz death camp, and the Mauthausen, Buchenwald and Ravensbrueck concentration camps. Mauthausen was in Austria and Auschwitz in Nazi-occupied Poland.

Head prosecutor Jens Rommel, who confirmed the taz story to the dpa news agency, says most of the suspects are in their early to mid-90s.

Rommel’s office doesn’t have the authority to press charges, so state prosecutors will now have to decide whether there is enough evidence to file charges.

Under German law, camp guards have been successfully prosecuted for accessory to murder by proving they were present and helped camps function while killings took place.

— AP

Rabbi rejects Pence request to hold press conference at Western Wall

US President Mike Pence reportedly requested to hold a press conference at the Western Wall in Jerusalem during his visit to Israel on Wednesday, but his request was turned down by the rabbi governing the holy site.

According to Channel 10, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch rejected the vice president’s request out of fears that holding a press conference at the Western Wall, which is adjacent to the Temple Mount, could spark violent protests.

Myanmar ‘planned’ Rohingya attacks, possibly ‘genocide,’ UN rights chief

The UN rights chief tells AFP Monday that Myanmar clearly “planned” violent attacks on its Rohingya minority, causing a mass-exodus, and warned the crackdown could possibly amount to “genocide.”

“For us, it was clear… that these operations were organised and planned,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein says in an interview.

“You couldn’t exclude the possibility of acts of genocide… You cannot rule it out as having taken place or taking place.”

Doctors Without Borders said Thursday that at least 6,700 Rohingya were killed in the first month of a Myanmar army crackdown on rebels in Rakhine state that began in August.

And more than 655,000 of the Muslim minority have fled across the border into Cox’s Bazar district in southeastern Bangladesh since the army campaign began.

Myanmar has consistently denied committing atrocities in Rakhine, saying the crackdown was a proportionate response to the Rohingya militants who attacked police posts on August 25, killing around a dozen officials.

But Zeid said the evidence did not seem to support that, pointing to an upsurge in violence last year that had already prompted some 300,000 Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh.

His office, which has not been granted numerous requests to access northern Rakhine, published a report last February after speaking to refugees in Cox’s Bazar who spoke of “horrific, horrific crimes, the hunting down of children and cutting their throats,” Zeid said.

“My suspicion was that the first (smaller) operation was a dry run for the second,” he said.

— AFP

Trump slams China, Russia in ‘America First’ security strategy

President Donald Trump’s first National Security Strategy pillories China and Russia as “revisionist powers” bent on rolling back American interests, according to the hard-hitting text released Monday.

The document — designed to serve as a framework for the Trump administration’s approach to the world — uses remarkably biting language to frame Beijing and Moscow as global competitors.

“China and Russia challenge American power, influence, and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity,” the document states — a sharp break from Trump’s friendly approach to Presidents Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin.

Accusing China of seeking “to displace the United States” in Asia, the strategy is a litany of US grievances, from the Chinese stealing data to spreading “features of its authoritarian system.”

“Contrary to our hopes, China expanded its power at the expense of the sovereignty of others,” it says.

Russian nuclear weapons are deemed “the most significant existential threat to the United States,” and the Kremlin is described as a power that “seeks to restore its great power status and establish spheres of influence near its borders.”

“Russia aims to weaken US influence in the world and divide us from our allies and partners,” it warns.

Twitter suspends white nationalists under new rules

Twitter suspends the accounts of well-known white nationalists, moving swiftly, after putting into place new rules on what it sees as abusive content.

The account of far-right group Britain First, a small group that regularly posts inflammatory videos purporting to show Muslims engaged in acts of violence, are among the first to go dark. The individual accounts of two of its leaders, Jayda Fransen and Paul Golding, are also suspended.

US President Donald Trump caused a stir last month when he retweeted a post by Fransen, drawing criticism from British Prime Minister Theresa May. Fransen and Golding were arrested in Belfast last week for allegedly stirring up hatred.

The guidelines, announced a month ago and put into force this week, address hateful images or symbols, including those attached to user profiles.

Monitors at the company will weigh hateful imagery in the same way they do graphic violence and adult content.

If a user wants to post symbols or images that might be considered hateful, the post must be marked “sensitive media.” Other users would then see a warning that would allow them to decide whether to view the post.

Twitter is also prohibiting users from abusing or threatening others through their profiles or usernames.

— AP

Palestinian official calls US Jerusalem veto a ‘provocation’

A Palestinian official denounces the US veto of a UN resolution on the status of Jerusalem as a “provocation.”

Nabil Abu Rdeneh is an adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. He says the US veto goes against the international consensus, underscores Washington’s growing international isolation, and “will not help in creating peace in the region.”

The Egyptian-sponsored resolution would have required US President Donald Trump to rescind his declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. It was approved by the 14 other council members, a reflection of the depth of global opposition to Trump’s action.

Earlier today, Abbas said he will seek a UN upgrade for “Palestine,” which was recognized in 2012 by the General Assembly as a non-member observer state.

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Trump slams China, Russia in ‘America First’ security strategy

President Donald Trump’s first National Security Strategy pillories China and Russia as “revisionist powers” bent on rolling back American interests, according to the hard-hitting text released Monday.

The document — designed to serve as a framework for the Trump administration’s approach to the world — uses remarkably biting language to frame Beijing and Moscow as global competitors.

“China and Russia challenge American power, influence, and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity,” the document states — a sharp break from Trump’s friendly approach to Presidents Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin.

Accusing China of seeking “to displace the United States” in Asia, the strategy is a litany of US grievances, from the Chinese stealing data to spreading “features of its authoritarian system.”

“Contrary to our hopes, China expanded its power at the expense of the sovereignty of others,” it says.

Russian nuclear weapons are deemed “the most significant existential threat to the United States,” and the Kremlin is described as a power that “seeks to restore its great power status and establish spheres of influence near its borders.”

“Russia aims to weaken US influence in the world and divide us from our allies and partners,” it warns.