Trump working on new ‘streamlined’ travel ban

MUNICH, Germany — US Homeland Security chief John Kelly said Saturday that a new presidential immigrant ban will be better prepared and implemented to ensure there is no repeat of the chaos caused by the first. He said President Donald Trump was working on a “streamlined” version of the original executive order banning travel from seven predominantly Muslim nations, which was quickly overturned by the courts.

Trump said Thursday he would announce a new executive order on immigration next week after federal courts suspended his ban on the ground it targeted Muslims and was implemented without due care or preparation.

Kelly told the Munich Security Conference that the administration had been surprised by the ruling and would try to do better.

“I would say the president is contemplating releasing a tighter, more streamlined version,” he said. “We will have this time the opportunity to work the roll-out plan in particular to make sure there is no one … caught in the system.”

Following a ruling by a federal judge in Seattle that grants a nationwide temporary restraining order against the presidential order to ban travel to the United States from seven Muslim-majority countries, demonstrators march in support of the decision inside at Los Angeles International Airport, Los Angeles, California, February 4, 2017. (David McNew/Getty Images/AFP)

Following a ruling by a federal judge in Seattle that grants a nationwide temporary restraining order against the presidential order to ban travel to the United States from seven Muslim-majority countries, demonstrators march in support of the decision inside at Los Angeles International Airport, Los Angeles, California, February 4, 2017. (David McNew/Getty Images/AFP)

The first order temporarily barred people from seven Muslim-majority countries from traveling to the United States for 90 days, as well as all refugees for 120 days — except those from Syria, who were banned indefinitely.

It triggered worldwide outrage and chaos as people arriving at US airports from targeted countries were detained and sometimes sent back to where they came from, including Green Card visa holders.

Kelly said that problem would not be repeated.

“As far as the visas go, if they are in motion from some distant land to the US when they arrive they’ll be allowed in,” he said.

The US Justice Department announced Thursday it was dropping its appeal against the court ruling that suspended the original executive order, soon after Trump said he would issue a new one next week.

“We will be issuing a new and very comprehensive order to protect our people,” the president told a news conference.

President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in the East Room at the White House on February 16, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images, via JTA)

President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in the East Room at the White House on February 16, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images, via JTA)

The January 27 order was widely criticized as amounting to simply a ban on Muslims, and also for being rolled out sloppily — with virtually no warning to the public or preparation of the agencies tasked with enforcing it.

Trump on Thursday nevertheless hailed the introduction of the travel ban as smooth. He criticized the court order suspending the ban as “a very bad decision, very bad for the safety and security of our country. The roll-out was perfect.”

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Pence offers ‘unwavering’ NATO pledge, but ‘not a word on EU’

MUNICH (AP) — America’s commitment to NATO is “unwavering,” US Vice President Mike Pence said Saturday, reassuring allies about the direction the Trump administration might take but leaving open questions about where Washington saw its relationship with the European Union and other international organizations.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for strengthening a range of multilateral bodies — the EU, NATO and the United Nations — and lauded the benefits of “a free, independent press.”

In his first foreign trip as vice president, Pence sought immediately to address concerns raised by President Donald Trump’s earlier comments questioning whether NATO was “obsolete.”

Pence told the Munich Security Conference, an annual gathering of diplomats and defense officials: “I bring you this assurance: The United States of America strongly supports NATO and will be unwavering in our commitment to our trans-Atlantic alliance.”

“Your struggles are our struggles. Your success is our success,” Pence said. “And ultimately, we walk into the future together.”

Merkel, speaking before Pence, told him and other leaders that “acting together strengthens everyone.”

Her address came amid concerns among allies about the Trump administration’s approach to international affairs and fears that the US may have little interest in working in international forums.

“Will we be able to continue working well together, or will we all fall back into our individual roles?” Merkel asked. “Let’s make the world better together and then things will get better for every single one of us.”

Trump has praised Britain’s decision to leave the 28-nation EU. And a leading contender to be the next US ambassador to the EU, Ted Malloch, has said Washington is “somewhat critical and suspicious” of the bloc and would prefer to work with countries bilaterally.

Pence did not mention the European Union in his speech, something picked up on by French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault who wrote on Twitter: “In Munich, Vice President Pence renews America’s commitment to the Atlantic alliance. But not a word on the EU.”

Pence did say, however, that the US was on a path of “friendship with Europe and a strong North Atlantic alliance.”

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel also indicated skepticism about Pence’s pledges, saying that he agreed Europe needed to work with the US on the basis of common values. But in a barely veiled reference to Trump, he said “both countries must define their interests, and our foreign policies should not be driven by ideology.”

“Ideologies lead to hostile concepts that might not be able to be overcome,” said Gabriel, who is chairman of the Social Democratic Party, Merkel’s junior coalition partner.

Going ahead, he said Europeans “should hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.”

In pledging the Trump administration’s support for NATO, Pence said the US expected all countries to live up to commitments to spend at least 2 percent of the value of their gross domestic product on defense.

“Europe’s defense requires your commitment as much as ours,” he said.

Merkel reiterated that Germany is committed to the 2% goal though Germany currently only contributes about 1.3%.

“We will do everything we can in order to fulfill this commitment,” she said. “But let me add, however, that I believe while NATO is very much in the European interest, it’s also in the American interest — it’s a very strong alliance where we are united together.”

Gabriel suggested that development aid and humanitarian moves — such as in Germany’s decision to take in nearly 900,000 refugees last year — should also be part of the consideration when looking at defense spending.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told The Associated Press, however, that both things were necessary.

“We need a comprehensive approach and of course development aid and funding for refugees is also very important,” he said. “But there’s no contradiction between being focused on development aid and security — actually the only way we can create development is to preserve the peace. We need security to be able to facilitate economic development.”

Merkel, who met with Pence one-on-one following their speeches, acknowledged that Europeans couldn’t fight global issues like Islamic extremist terrorism alone.

“We need the military power of the United States,” she said.

She renewed a call for Islamic religious authorities to speak “clear words on the demarcation of peaceful Islam and terrorism in the name of Islam.”

US Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly told the security conference that Trump is working on a “streamlined” version of his executive order banning travel from seven predominantly Muslim nations to iron out the difficulties that landed his first order in the courts.

Kelly said next time Trump will “make sure that there’s no one caught in the system of moving from overseas to our airports” during the travel ban.

The nations affected by the original ban were Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Kelly mentioned “seven nations” again on Saturday, leading to speculation they will all be included in Trump’s next executive order on immigration.

Answering Trump, McCain warns a free press is vital to democracy

WASHINGTON — Sen. John McCain said a free press is vital “to preserve democracy as we know it.” And he cautioned about efforts to muzzle a free press, saying “that’s how dictators get started.”

The Arizona senator was asked in an interview for NBC’s “Meet the Press” how he felt about President Donald Trump’s tweet criticizing “the fake news media” that said “it is the enemy of the American people.”

McCain told “Meet the Press,” “The fact is we need you.”

He added: “When you look at history, the first thing dictators do is shut down the press.”

McCain said he isn’t saying Trump is trying to be a dictator but “we need to learn th

Iraq forces launch operation to retake west Mosul – PM

BAGDHAD, Iraq (AFP) — Iraqi forces launched an offensive on jihadists defending Mosul’s west bank Sunday, in what could be the most brutal fighting yet in a four-month-old operation on the city.

“Our forces are beginning the liberation of the citizens from the terror of Daesh,” Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in a short televised speech, using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group.

“We announce the start of a new phase in the operation. We are coming, Nineveh, to liberate the western side of Mosul,” he said, referring to the province of which Mosul is the capital.

Federal police and interior ministry forces were expected to start the new phase in the offensive by moving on Mosul airport, which is on the southern edge of the city, west of the Tigris River.

The jihadists have put up stiff resistance to defend Mosul, their last major stronghold in Iraq and the place where their leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed a “caliphate” in 2014.

A masked fighter of the Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization) paramilitaries poses for a picture carrying a Kalashnikov assault rifle by defensive positions on the outskirts of Tal Afar west of Mosul, where Iraqi forces are preparing for the offensive retake the western side of Mosul from Islamic State (IS) group fighters, on February 18, 2017. ( AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE)

A masked fighter of the Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization) paramilitaries poses for a picture carrying a Kalashnikov assault rifle by defensive positions on the outskirts of Tal Afar west of Mosul, where Iraqi forces are preparing for the offensive retake the western side of Mosul from Islamic State (IS) group fighters, on February 18, 2017. ( AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE)

After shaping operations around Mosul, it took Iraq’s most seasoned forces — the elite Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) — more than two months to clear the eastern side of Mosul.

After a pause in the operation launched on October 17, federal forces now face what was always billed as the toughest nut to crack: Mosul’s west bank, home to the narrow streets of the Old City.

“West Mosul had the potential certainly of being more difficult, with house-to-house fighting on a larger and more bloody scale,” said Patrick Skinner, from the Soufan Group intelligence consultancy.

The streets around the historical centre, which includes the mosque in which Baghdadi made his only public appearance in June 2014, will be impassable for many military vehicles and force government fighters to take on IS in perilous dismounted warfare.

Prior to the offensive that saw IS seize Mosul and much of Iraq’s Sunni Arab heartland nearly three years ago, the east bank was more ethnically diverse than the west, where analysts believe the jihadists could enjoy more support.

Fighters of the Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization) paramilitaries sit in the back of a heavily-armed vehicle carrying a rocket launcher, at a defensive position on the outskirts of Tal Afar west of Mosul, where Iraqi forces are preparing for the offensive retake the western side of Mosul from Islamic State (IS) group fighters, on February 18, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE)

Fighters of the Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization) paramilitaries sit in the back of a heavily-armed vehicle carrying a rocket launcher, at a defensive position on the outskirts of Tal Afar west of Mosul, where Iraqi forces are preparing for the offensive retake the western side of Mosul from Islamic State (IS) group fighters, on February 18, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE)

– Tougher resistance –

“IS resistance could be greater in this area and it will be harder, but all the more important, to completely clear the networks from Mosul after its recapture,” said Emily Anagnostos, Iraq analyst at the Institute for the Study of War.

While the federal forces’ attrition is said to be high, IS’s had been undoubtedly higher and commanders have said the jihadists may no longer have the resources to defend east Mosul effectively.

Recent incidents in liberated east point to the difficulty of ensuring remnants of IS have not blended in with the civilian population in a huge city which most residents did not flee ahead of the government offensive.

Aid organisations had feared an exodus of unprecedented proportions before the start of the Mosul operation but half a million — a significant majority — of residents stayed home.

Their continued presence prevented both sides from resorting to deadlier weaponry, which may have slowed down the battle but averted a potentially much more serious humanitarian emergency in the middle of winter as well as more extensive material damage to the city.

Fighters of the Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization) paramilitaries prepare defensive positions near the frontline village of Ayn al-Hisan, on the outskirts of Tal Afar west of Mosul, where Iraqi forces are preparing for the offensive retake the western side of Mosul from Islamic State (IS) group fighters, on February 18, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE)

Fighters of the Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization) paramilitaries prepare defensive positions near the frontline village of Ayn al-Hisan, on the outskirts of Tal Afar west of Mosul, where Iraqi forces are preparing for the offensive retake the western side of Mosul from Islamic State (IS) group fighters, on February 18, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE)

“Mosul is going better than we expected, but there are serious dangers ahead,” Lise Grande, UN humanitarian coordinator in Iraq, told AFP.

Residents of west Mosul have reported very difficult living conditions and warned that they were already low on food, with weeks of fighting expected to lie ahead.

IS fighters and Mosul residents remained able to move across both sides of the city during much of the fighting in the east but all bridges across the Tigris have now been dropped and the jihadists in the west are all but besieged.

IS has used civilians as human shields as part of its defence tactics and killed residents attempting to flee, making it both difficult and dangerous for the population to escape.

While specialised units may attempt to throw pontoon bridges across the river to attack from the east, the main initial assault of the upcoming phase in the Mosul is expected to come from the south on the city’s airport.

Army, police, interior ministry and special forces have been gearing up for the push on Mosul’s southern front, with a large concentration of fighters based out of Hammam al-Alil.

Hezbollah said to have obtained ‘game-changing’ anti-ship missiles

The Lebanese terror group Hezbollah is said to have obtained advanced Russian-made anti-ship missiles, potentially threatening Israeli gas fields in the Mediterranean Sea and the Israeli Navy’s ability to operate in the area, according to a report published Sunday.

Hezbollah’s possession of the Yakhont missiles was revealed by unnamed Western intelligence officials over the weekend at the Munich Security Conference, where world leaders and defense ministers are meeting to discuss major security issues, according to a report in the Hebrew daily Yedioth Ahronoth. The reports did not reveal in what forum the revelations were made.

If true, Hezbollah’s possession of the missiles would represent a serious threat to Israeli interests in the Mediterranean; endangering both Israeli commercial vessels sailing in shipping lanes off the Lebanese coast and the ability of Israeli Navy ships to operate in and around Lebanese waters.

Most significantly, the missiles would give Hezbollah the ability to strike Israel’s gas production platforms in the Mediterranean, a threat Israel reportedly intends to counter by installing maritime versions of the Iron Dome missile defense system on naval vessels as part of the Israeli Navy’s efforts to secure the country’s natural gas fields.

An aerial view of the Israeli 'Tamar' gas processing rig 24 km off the Israeli southern coast of Ashkelon. Noble Energy and Delek are the main partners in the oil field, October 11, 2013. (Moshe Shai/FLASH90)

An aerial view of the Israeli ‘Tamar’ gas processing rig 24 km off the Israeli southern coast of Ashkelon. Noble Energy and Delek are the main partners in the oil field, October 11, 2013. (Moshe Shai/FLASH90)

Israeli security officials have previously said that advanced missiles such as the Yakhont falling into the hands of Hezbollah would constitute the crossing of a red line, and Israel is said to have targeted at least two shipments of Yakhont systems in 2013 from Syria to Hezbollah. Syria, one of Russia’s closest allies has a large arsenal of the advanced anti-ship missiles.

Since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011, a number of airstrikes have been attributed to Israel, reportedly targeting convoys of advanced weapons to Hezbollah, as part of Israel’s policy to prevent the group from acquiring “game-changing” arms, in particular anti-aircraft systems, chemical weapons and other advanced weaponry such as the Yakhont.

In 2014, then defense-minister Moshe Ya’alon dismissed a report published in The Wall Street Journal alleging Hezbollah was in possession of at least 12 Yakhont systems, saying that Israel believes the Shiite terror group “does not have the missiles.”

During the 2006 Lebanon War, Hezbollah successfully struck an Israeli naval warship off the coast of Lebanon using a Chinese-made C-802 anti-ship missile, killing four sailors.

The attack on the naval vessel surprised Israeli security officials, with an IDF officer telling the Haaretz daily at the time that “we were under the impression that we were operating beyond the range of missiles.”

On Thursday, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah boasted that Israel was surprised then and would be surprised again in any future conflict. “In 2006 you had intelligence of our ammunition but you were astonished with what you saw after figuring out that you didn’t have enough information. You will be surprised with what we are (now) hiding which could change the course of any war,” he said

The Yakhont, which was a reported range of up to 300 kilometers (186 miles), would give Hezbollah a significant upgrade over the C-802, which can reach up to a distance of 110 kilometers (68 miles).

Pence: US will ‘never’ allow Iran to threaten Israel with nukes

US Vice President Mike Pence said Saturday that Washington was committed to ensuring Iran could never threaten Israel with nuclear weapons.

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, Pence called Tehran “the leading state sponsor of terrorism” and said it continued to destabilize the Middle East.

“Thanks to the end of nuclear-related sanctions under the [nuclear deal] Iran now has additional resources to devote to these efforts,” he said.

“Let me be clear again: Under President Trump the United States will remain fully committed to ensuring that Iran never obtains a nuclear weapon capable of threatening our countries, our allies in the region, especially Israel.”

Organizers of the conference had on Friday rearranged the agenda for their Sunday morning sessions, which would have seen Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman share a panel with Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Liberman and Zarif were set to be two of four participants in a session entitled “Old Crises, New Middle East?” The Israeli minister stated that he was looking forward to the meeting, saying he hoped Zarif would stay in the room to hear “exactly what I think about the ayatollahs’ regime in Tehran.”

However, organizers cancelled the 9:45-11:05 a.m. session, and replaced it with a series of separate statements, with Zarif now set to speak an hour before Liberman, and another panel discussion in between them, leaving no likelihood of the two men encountering each other.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (left) and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (Flash90 and AFP)

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (left) and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (Flash90 and AFP)

Pence Saturday pledged an “unwavering” commitment to transatlantic ties, in an emphatic reassurance to allies including German Chancellor Angela Merkel who pleaded with nations not to go it alone.

Capping a week of whirlwind diplomacy by American officials who have descended on Europe to calm nerves rattled by Donald Trump, Pence underlined the United States’ devotion to its old friends.

“The United States is and will always be your greatest ally. Be assured that President Trump and our people are truly devoted to our transatlantic union,” he told European leaders including Merkel at the conference.

“The promise to share the burden of our defense has gone unfulfilled for too many, for too long and it erodes the very foundation of our alliance,” he warned, stressing that “the time has come to do more”.

At the same time, he did not go further and threaten, as Trump had done, to walk away if the allies failed to pay their way.

US Vice President Mike Pence (L) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel leave the room after a photo call prior to a bilateral meeting on the 2nd day of the 53rd Munich Security Conference (MSC) at the Bayerischer Hof hotel in Munich, southern Germany, on February 18, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / Christof STACHE)

US Vice President Mike Pence (L) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel leave the room after a photo call prior to a bilateral meeting on the 2nd day of the 53rd Munich Security Conference (MSC) at the Bayerischer Hof hotel in Munich, southern Germany, on February 18, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / Christof STACHE)

The US, he said, will boost defense spending significantly, “to defend our nation and our treaty allies from the known threats of today and the unknown threats of tomorrow”.

“We will meet our obligations to our people to provide for the common defense, and we’ll continue to do our part to support our allies in Europe and in NATO,” he said.

Trump’s criticism of NATO as “obsolete”, his praise for Britain’s decision to leave the European Union as well as his softer approach towards Russia unnerved Washington’s allies.

But over the past week in Europe, key members of his administration have pressed the message that the United States is not retreating into isolation but remains committed to its global role.

At NATO in Brussels on Thursday, Defense Secretary James Mattis said Russia must first “prove itself” and respect international law before there can be any improvement in relations strained to breaking point by Moscow’s Ukraine intervention and annexation of Crimea.

Mattis said the transatlantic bond was “as strong as I’ve ever seen it”, and stressed America remained “rock solid” in support of Article 5 — NATO’s core “one for all, all for one” collective-defence tenet.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman shakes hands with US Secretary of Defense James Mattis at the Munich Security Conference on February 17, 2017. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman shakes hands with US Secretary of Defense James Mattis at the Munich Security Conference on February 17, 2017. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

Likewise, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was cautious in his dealings with Russia.

Following his first sit-down with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Bonn on Thursday, Tillerson said the US would cooperate with Moscow but only when doing so “will benefit the American people.”

Exasperated and worried by Trump’s calling into question long-standing foreign policy givens, Europe’s top politicians have warned Washington not to take transatlantic ties for granted.

They work both ways, they said, and benefit the United States as much as Europe.

Merkel on Saturday warned countries not to retreat from the international cooperation which she says is the only way to solve global problems.

“In a year in which we see unimaginable challenges we can either work together or retreat to our individual roles. I hope that we will find a common position,” she said.

This includes working not only with Western partners, but also with Russia if possible and if Moscow once again respected the sovereignty and territorial integrity of other states such as Ukraine, she said.

She said it was “regrettable” that Europe had not managed to reach a stable relationship with Russia over the last 25 years.

“I will not give up on finding a way for better relations with Russia despite our different views on many questions,” she said, hours before Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was due to address the forum.

Netanyahu rejected regional peace plan last year — report

Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu rejected a regional peace plan for the renewal of negotiations toward a two-state solution and recognition of Israel as a Jewish state less than a year ago, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported Sunday, days after he called for such an initiative at his first meeting with US President Donald Trump.

The proposal was the result of months of negotiations led by then-US Secretary of State John Kerry and culminated in a secret meeting on February 21, 2016, between Netanyahu, Kerry, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and Jordan’s King Abdullah, according the report.

Despite including two key tenets that Netanyahu has repeatedly declared as imperative to any potential peace accord — recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and cooperation with regional Arab nations — the prime minister is said to have rejected the proposal, saying he would not be able to get approval from his hawkish coalition.

Kerry had initiated the summit after complex bargaining with both Israel’s regional neighbors and its internal political players. Details of the proposal and the secret meeting came from former senior officials in the Obama administration who asked to remain anonymous, Haaretz said. The Prime Minister’s Office refused to comment on the report.

US Secretary of State John Kerry delivers a speech on Middle East peace at the U.S. Department of State on December 28, 2016, in Washington, DC. (Zach Gibson/Getty Images/AFP)

US Secretary of State John Kerry delivers a speech on Middle East peace at the U.S. Department of State on December 28, 2016, in Washington, DC. (Zach Gibson/Getty Images/AFP)

The plan reportedly included six principles to guide the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that Kerry presented in his final speech on the issue as US secretary of state in December. That speech also included a scathing attack on Israel’s continued settlement activity.

Firstly, Kerry said, peace must provide for secure and recognized borders, based on the 1967 lines, with mutually agreed land swaps and a contiguous state for the Palestinians.

Other principles included the fulfillment of UN General Assembly Resolution 181, which called for two state for two peoples; a fair and “realistic” solution to the Palestinian refugee problem that did not “affect the fundamental character of Israel”; shared capitals in Jerusalem that ensured free access to holy sites and no redivision of the city; Israeli security guarantees along with an end to the occupation; and a final end to the conflict and all outstanding claims along with the establishment of normalized relations.

While Sissi and Abdullah both accepted the proposal and agreed to put pressure on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to accept it, Netanyahu “evaded a clear answer on the proposed plan,” the report said, citing the Obama administration officials. He did however agree to release a statement “relating positively” to the Arab Peace Initiative, in return for a regional peace summit including several Sunni states.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas promotes the Arab Peace Initiative during a speech at the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa in Jordan, May 26, 2013 (photo credit: AP/Jim Young)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas promotes the Arab Peace Initiative during a speech at the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa in Jordan, May 26, 2013 (photo credit: AP/Jim Young)

The 2002 Arab Peace Initiative calls for significant concessions on Israel’s part, among them a full withdrawal from the West Bank, the establishment of a Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem and an agreed-upon solution for the Palestinian refugee problem. In return, numerous Arab states would officially recognize the Jewish state as well as establish normalized ties with it.

While it is unclear whether the proposal was ever formally rejected, it set in motion a series of political developments in Israel that lead to Netanyahu partially endorsing the Arab Peace Initiative and offering to negotiate with the Arab world the parameters of the plan.

Immediately after the meeting, Netanyahu reportedly called opposition leader Isaac Herzog to update him on the talks in an attempt to persuade him to join to coalition. That conversation developed into weeks of talks between the Likud party and Herzog’s Zionist Union.

Despite intense efforts by an alliance of foreign leaders to secure a national unity government, talks fell apart when it was revealed that the right-wing party Yisrael Beytenu would join the governing coalition, with its leader, Avigdor Liberman, taking the Defense Ministry portfolio.

Opposition leader Issac Herzog at the Knesset on January 17, 2017. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

Opposition leader Issac Herzog at the Knesset on January 17, 2017. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

A clause in the scrapped agreement between Likud and Zionist Union stated that the government would “relate positively” to the idea of a regional reconciliation agreement between Israel and several Arab states, as well as to certain elements of the Arab Peace Initiative to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The clause in the document, published at the time by Channel 2, further stated that Israel would “express a readiness for the first time to enter a dialogue on the matter with the relevant Arab states.” The contents of the file were confirmed by the Prime Minister’s Office, Channel 2 said.

But at a press conference with Liberman after announcing Yisrael Beytenu would join the coalition, Netanyahu did make a dramatic declaration of partial support for the Arab Peace Initiative.

“I take this opportunity to make clear that I remain committed to making peace with the Palestinians and with all our neighbors. The Arab Peace Initiative contains positive elements that could help revive constructive negotiations with the Palestinians,” Netanyahu declared.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) and incoming Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (left) hold a press conference in the Knesset on Monday, May 30, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) and incoming Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (left) hold a press conference in the Knesset on Monday, May 30, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“We are willing to negotiate with the Arab states revisions to that initiative so that it reflects the dramatic changes in our region since 2002″ — when the proposal was first floated — “but maintains the agreed goal of two states for two peoples,” Netanyahu said.

Despite the announcement and repeated statements by Netanyhau calling for wider cooperation with Arab counties, no diplomatic progress has been made since.

Last week, at a joint news conference with US President Donald Trump, Netanyahu said some Arab countries see Israel “increasingly as an ally,” suggesting they are driven by concern over Iranian expansionism and the spread of Islamic militancy. “This change in our region creates an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen security and advance peace,” he said in urging Trump to “seize this moment together.”

Trump said he wants to pursue “a much bigger deal” in the Mideast that would include “many, many countries.” He suggested there’s Arab interest, saying, “We have some pretty good cooperation from people who in the past would never, ever have even thought of doing this.”

US President Donald Trump, right, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands during a joint press conference in the East Room of the White House, in Washington, DC, February 15, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN)

US President Donald Trump, right, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands during a joint press conference in the East Room of the White House, in Washington, DC, February 15, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN)

Neither leader provided specifics, though Trump said both Israelis and Palestinians would have to make concessions. Both men refused to endorse a traditional pillar of US policy — a Palestinian state alongside Israel — as the preferred solution to the long-running conflict.

Speaking to Israel Radio Sunday morning, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz said the regional coalition could go ahead now because the Trump administration shared Israel’s view of Iran as the major regional threat.

“They have been no denials [from Arab countries] since the prime minister announced an alliance with these Sunni Arab states,” Katz said, adding that the cooperation was based on intelligence sharing focused common enemies in Iran and they have declared Hezbollah a terrorist organization.

However, he conceded these countries still “care about the Palestinian issue.”

FBI Suddenly Releases Trump File With Shocking Contents

In a stunning move that seemed to come from nowhere, the Federal Bureau of Investigation decided to release files from four decades ago involving an investigation into possible housing discrimination by President Donald Trump’s father.

According to The Daily Caller, the files date from between 1972 and 1974, when Fred Trump’s Trump Management Company allegedly discriminated against potential tenants based on the basis of race.

The case was settled in 1975, with Fred Trump agreeing to admit more minority applicants while denying any wrongdoing. In spite of the fact that Donald Trump had absolutely nothing to do with the investigation, the lawsuit was frequently reported by Democrats over the course of the campaign as proof that Trump was racist.

The FBI Records Vault announced the release on Twitter on Thursday.

Trump Management Company: This release consists of FBI materials on an investigation conducted between 1972 and 1… https://vault.fbi.gov/trump-management-company 

Photo published for Trump Management Company

Trump Management Company

This release consists of FBI materials on an investigation conducted between 1972 and 1974 into allegations that the Trump Management Company had discriminated against applicants for apartment…

vault.fbi.gov

This isn’t the first time that the FBI has dumped records about Fred Trump at a dubiously opportunistic moment. Just before the election, the same records vault Twitter account published, after a year of inactivity, other files related to Fred Trump. A few days later, it published files relating to Bill Clinton’s controversial pardoning of billionaire financier Marc Rich on his way out of office in 2001.

Guess which one Democrats complained about?

Absent a FOIA litigation deadline, this is odd.
Will FBI be posting docs on Trump’s housing discrimination in ’70s?https://twitter.com/PeterWStevenson/status/793505168759386112 

That’s Brian Fallon, a Hillary spokesman. As it turns out, the files mention nothing about Donald Trump, meaning he was entirely unimplicated in the 43-year-old investigation.

Yet, check out the headlines from this:

That’s right, Spin — a music publication more accustomed to publishing Chuck Klosterman’s overambitious screeds about cocaine and “advancement theory” — is clutching its pearls over an FBI document dump involving Donald Trump’s dad, who died almost 20 years ago.

At least Spin didn’t put Donald Trump’s name first in the headline like the other two sources did, even though the president had absolutely no connection to the allegations made by the investigation.

Sadly, this is hardly a surprise. CNN reports that Republicans have called for an investigation into government leaks specifically designed to make the president look bad. This is mostly over the investigation of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, which saw intercepted calls leaked to the press, possibly by insiders connected to the former administration.

The timing of this is beyond suspicious. It is as if Obama partisans seem bent on doing as much damage as possible to the president before Trump is able to shut off the leaky faucet. And how do they do it? By going after his dead dad. Nice work.

Zionist Jews Happily Brag About Being At The Center Of The Muslim Invasion Of Europe

http://www.renegadetribune.com/zionist-jews-happily-brag-center-muslim-invasion-europe/

 

The truth is the Western world is controlled by jewish supremacists like the Rothschild dynasty through media, entertainment, the banking system and puppet politicians who don’t care about anything but money power and status. Why is Israel the only democratic nation that doesn’t have to be politically correct? Why don’t they have to take in “refugees”? Why can they kick out Ethiopian Jews just because they’re black? Did you know it’s illegal for a Jew and non Jew marry in Israel? Where is the leftist outrage!? wheres the media coverage?

Sweden Accepted 162k Refugees in 2015, Guess How Many Have Jobs

http://www.renegadetribune.com/sweden-accepted-162k-refugees-2015-guess-many-jobs/

 

Renegade Editor’s Note: I personally am glad the “refugees” are not getting jobs or assimilating, as it will make it easier on everyone to eventually send them back to their own lands, which must happen.

By Daniel Lang of The Daily Sheeple

When it comes to the migrant crisis in Europe, the two most important questions that need to be asked is, will these refugees ever return to their homelands, and if not, will they ever be able to function in European societies? So far, the answer to the latter of those two questions is a hard no.

Take Sweden for instance; a country that on a per capita basis, has probably taken in more refugees than any other European nation. In 2015 alone, they brought in 162,000 refugees. Now if these people were making assimilating into Sweden, you would see thousands of them finding jobs, finding homes, and learning the language. But by at least one of those metrics they are utterly failing. Out of those 162,000 refugees, guess how many have found a job since they reached Swedish shores?

Only 494 have jobs now. A majority of the refugees are qualified to receive work permits in Sweden. So far, roughly a third of them have received work permits (more would have them, but there are so many refugees that the government is struggling to issue them). And of those with permits, less than one out every hundred migrants has a job.

This has been a widespread problem across Europe with no real end in sight. Only Germany has managed to alleviate the problem somewhat, by making migrants exempt from minimum wage laws. Either way, the odds of these people ever assimilating into Western society is slim.

Either they’re going to be jobless and a chronic strain on the welfare systems of Europe, or they’re going to be resentful of the societies that welcomed them when they realize that they’re only ever going to be working for pennies on the dollar. They will become a permanent underclass, always dependent on the government, and with no motivation to ever accept Western values.


This article originally appeared on The Daily Sheeple.