Suicidal Germany may postpone selling Israel rope to hang it, citing corruption worries — Zio-Watch, July 18, 2017

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Trump administration shares a goal with Israel of keeping Iran out of southern Syria, a spokesman said, and will continue consulting with Israel about a Syrian cease-fire that Israel’s government is vigorously opposing.

“There’s a shared interest that we have with Israel, making sure that Iran does not gain a foothold, military base-wise, in southern Syria,” Sean Spicer, the White House spokesman, said Monday at the daily briefing for reporters.

“So while we’re going to continue those talks, obviously we want to have the productive cease-fire, but we also want to make sure that we’re not — one of our other objectives obviously remains to make sure that Iran does not gain a foothold in southern Syria,” he said. “So we need to continue to have that discussion with Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu about his concerns, but I think there is a shared goal there.”

Netanyahu over the weekend said he opposed the cease-fire in southwestern Syria, near the border with the Golan Heights and brokered last week by the United States and Russia, because he fears it will give Iran a foothold in a region close to Israel.
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The Israeli settlement of Har Homa in the southern West Bank district of Bethlehem on September 1, 2014 (Photo by AFP)
The Israeli settlement of Har Homa in the southern West Bank district of Bethlehem on September 1, 2014 (Photo by AFP)

Israel has started building its first new settlement in the West Bank in 25 years in defiance of the international law and the latest UN Security Council resolution against the illegal move.

On Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the illegal construction in Emek Shilo, near the city of Ramallah, as an “honor.”

“After decades, I have the honor to be the first prime minister to build a settlement in Judea and Samaria (biblical name of the West Bank),” Netanyahu said.

“There was not, and there will never be, as good a government for the settlements as ours,” he added.

The construction of the new settlement started just a week after the Israeli minister for military affairs, Avigdor Lieberman, hailed the plan as Israel’s biggest settlement expansion since 1992.

The new settlement is aimed at accommodating the residents of the illegal West Bank outpost of Amona after it was demolished by the Israeli military in February following a court order.
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Mike Pence

Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the Christians United for Israel conference in Washington, D.C., July 17, 2017. (CUFI)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Vice President Mike Pence again pledged that the Trump administration would move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.

On Monday night, Pence made the vow to Christian supporters of Israel who have become increasingly restive at President Donald Trump’s failure to make good on his campaign promise.

“To the men and women of Christians United for Israel, this president hears you,” he said to cheers at the annual Christians United for Israel  conference in Washington, D.C. “This president stands with you. And I promise you that the day will come when President Donald Trump moves the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It is not a question of if, it is only when.”
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White House denies Trump asked May to postpone UK state visit

The White House and Downing Street have both dismissed reports by the Guardian on Sunday that Trump had called UK Prime Minister Theresa May to delay his state visit planned for this autumn.

The newspaper reported that, according to a Downing Street advisor, the US leader had called May, saying he is hesitant about visiting the UK amid concern he will be rejected by the public.

Trump has faced widespread criticism for his controversial remarks about London Mayor Sadiq Khan following the terrorist attack on London Bridge and Borough Market last week that killed eight and injured almost 50

He slammed the mayor for saying British people should not be alarmed by the increased security presence on the streets.

When Khan responded saying he had “more important things to do than respond to Donald Trump’s ill-informed tweet that deliberately takes out of context his remarks,” Trump took his criticism a step further, accusing the mayor of making up “pathetic excuses.”

The Guardian also reported that May, who invited the Republican soon after he was sworn in as president in January, was surprised by Trump’s reservations.

Although the Trump administration did tell the BBC the president “does not feel like” visiting the UK anytime soon, White House sources claimed talks of the state visit had “never come up” during the call between the two leaders, and added that “the president has tremendous respect for Prime Minister May.”

According to a White House readout, Trump had simply called May to “offer his warm support” following the election.

“President Trump emphasized his commitment to the United States-United Kingdom special relationship and underscored that he looks forward to working with the Prime Minister on shared goals and interests in the years to come,” the statement said.

“We aren’t going to comment on speculation about the contents of private phone conversations,” a Downing Street spokesman said, according to the BBC.

“The Queen extended an invitation to President Trump to visit the UK and there is no change to those plans.”

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said Trump is “terrified” of the British public and that he is aware his policies are deemed “appalling” across the pond.

“Theresa May should be embarrassed that she was so quick to offer Trump a state visit. Now neither of them want to be seen with the other,” Farron added.

Trump has received international condemnation for his controversial anti-immigration policies, including a proposed order to block people from seven-Muslim majority countries from entering the US.

After the visit was announced in February, Londoners took to the streets in mass protest, while a petition calling for the state visit to be canceled, as it would be an “embarrassment” to the Queen, garnered 1.85 million signatories.

The prime minister nonetheless said the invitation would not be withdrawn, and that the British government would still “extend the full courtesy of a State Visit” to Trump.

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Portland mayor calls on alt-right groups to postpone rallies as new details about stabbing attack emerge

The mayor of Portland, Ore., is calling on the federal government to help him stop what he describes as two upcoming “alt-right” demonstrations as his city continues to reel from last week’s deadly train stabbings.

“Our city is in mourning, our community’s anger is real, and the timing and subject of these events can only exacerbate an already difficult situation,” Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said Monday while urging the organizers to cancel the events scheduled for June 4 and June 10.

“My main concern is that they are coming to peddle a message of hatred and of bigotry,” Wheeler said. “They have a First Amendment right to speak, but my pushback on that is that hate speech is not protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

The American Civil Liberties Union immediately rejected that stance, saying, “The government cannot revoke or deny a permit based on the viewpoint of the demonstrators. Period.”

Wheeler’s appeal came just three days after two men were killed and another was wounded while trying to intervene when a man — later identified as Jeremy Christian — began hurling epithets at two young women, including one wearing a hijab, on a light-rail train.

Joey Gibson, organizer of the June 4 rally, told CNN that the mayor “is using this as an opportunity to use these two dead people to silence us.”

Gibson acknowledged that Christian, the suspect in Friday’s slayings attended one of his rallies last month, but said that he was wielding “a bat yelling and screaming, cussing at people, using derogatory names.”

“Jeremy Christian has nothing to do with us,” Gibson said. “He hated us; he threatened me. We did everything we could to kick him out. We didn’t want him with us.”

Gibson also said that even if he agreed to cancel the rally, “hundreds” of people would still show up, “with no leadership, no voice of reason.”

Christian is due to be arraigned Tuesday on multiple felony charges, including two counts of aggravated murder and one count of attempted murder.

Related: Portland stabbing victims hailed as heroes

Meanwhile, new details of Friday’s train attack have emerged.

In an interview with KPTV, Destinee Mangum, one of two teens who were the apparent targets of Christian’s anti-Muslim slurs, thanked the men who intervened on their behalf.

“I just want to say thank you to the people who put their life on the line for me,” Mangum said. “Because they didn’t even know me, and they lost their lives because of me and my friend and the way we look.”

Mangum, 16, was riding the train with her friend, who was wearing a hijab, when Christian focused his slurs at them.

“He told us to go back to Saudi Arabia, and he told us we shouldn’t be here — to get out of his country,” Mangum said. “He was just telling us that we basically weren’t anything and that we should just kill ourselves.”

Rick Best, a 53-year-old U.S. Army veteran and city of Portland employee, and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, 23, were fatally stabbed while trying to deescalate the situation, officials said. A third stabbing victim — 21-year-old Micah David-Cole Fletcher — was transported to a Portland hospital, where he was listed in serious condition Saturday.

Christian was arrested shortly after he exited the train.

Slideshow: Fatal stabbing on Portland, Ore., train

A fellow passenger told the Oregonian that Christian began shouting racial and anti-Muslim epithets as soon as he boarded.

“He was screaming that he was a taxpayer, that colored people were ruining the city, and he had First Amendment rights,” Rachel Macy told the paper. “I didn’t want to look. I was too afraid. It felt really tense. I’m a woman of color. I didn’t want him to notice me.”

Macy said that she tried to help Namkai Meche, who was covered in blood and holding his neck.

“I’m going to die,” he said, according to Macy. “I looked at him and said, ‘We can handle this. Lay down.’”

“I just kept telling him, ‘You’re not alone. We’re here,’” she added.

As Namkai Meche was carried away on a stretcher, she said, he wanted her to relay a message: “Tell everyone on this train I love them.”

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