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Westlake Legal Group > News Media (Page 78)

State media: Kim Jong Un supervised North Korea’s firing of super-large rocket launcher

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un oversaw Tuesday’s testing of a super-large multiple rocket launcher, state propaganda organ KCNA said late Tuesday.

Two short-range projectiles were fired hours after the North indicated a willingness to resume denuclearization talks with the United States later this month.

The projectiles were fired from South Pyongan Province, which surrounds the capital city of Pyongyang, and landed in the waters off North Korea’s east coast, South Korean officials said.

NORTH KOREA WILLING TO HOLD DENUCLEARIZATION TAKLS WITH US IN COMING WEEKS, STATE MEDIA SAYS

Westlake Legal Group AP19253018529007 State media: Kim Jong Un supervised North Korea's firing of super-large rocket launcher Louis Casiano fox-news/world/conflicts/north-korea fox-news/us/disasters/nuclear fox-news/person/kim-jong-un fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/world fnc f9e08247-2da2-5fdc-92c3-ca90792b184a article

People watch a TV showing a file image of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the Seoul Railway Station Tuesday. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Kim was accompanied by senior military personnel and officials with the Workers’ Party of Korea during the tests, KCNA said. He said the weapons system “has been finally verified in terms of combat operation” and “running fire test” is what remains to be done. It was not clear what such a test would entail.

KCNA reported that Kim said future tasks and steadily attaining goals to cutting-edge national defense were also needed.

President Trump has downplayed a slew of recent weapons tests by the North this year. The latest was the tenth such launch since May. He has said the short-range firings do not violate any agreements.

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Before Tuesday’s launchings, North Korean officials said they would be willing to restart denuclearization negotiations with American officials.

Talks between Trump and Kim fell apart in February when Trump rejected Kim’s demand for sanctions relief in exchange for partial denuclearization.

Westlake Legal Group AP19253018832314-1 State media: Kim Jong Un supervised North Korea's firing of super-large rocket launcher Louis Casiano fox-news/world/conflicts/north-korea fox-news/us/disasters/nuclear fox-news/person/kim-jong-un fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/world fnc f9e08247-2da2-5fdc-92c3-ca90792b184a article   Westlake Legal Group AP19253018832314-1 State media: Kim Jong Un supervised North Korea's firing of super-large rocket launcher Louis Casiano fox-news/world/conflicts/north-korea fox-news/us/disasters/nuclear fox-news/person/kim-jong-un fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/world fnc f9e08247-2da2-5fdc-92c3-ca90792b184a article

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Trump officials look to fix California homeless problem, state officials say back off

CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close Trump officials look to fix California homeless problem, state officials say back off

Despite efforts to reduce homelessness in Los Angeles, new numbers show the issue there has hit a new high. Video provided by Newsy Newslook

SAN FRANCISCO — Trump administration officials confirmed Tuesday they are on the ground in California looking at ways to intervene in the state’s mounting homelessness issue, which President Donald Trump has criticized as “disgusting” and a “disgrace to our country.”

But many elected officials and homelessness experts in the Golden State said any White House assistance would be disingenuous given federal housing cuts have helped exacerbate the problem. Some also accused Trump of using the homelessness issue to win over conservative supporters ahead of the 2020 election. 

“We need federal support and resources to build more housing for people living on the streets,” San Francisco Mayor London Breed said in a statement. “But simply cracking down on homelessness without providing the housing people need is not a real solution.”

Nathan Click, chief spokesman for California Gov. Gavin Newsom, also in part blamed the president for the state’s poverty woes. “If the president is willing to put serious solutions, with real investment, on the table, California stands ready to talk. He could start by ending his plans to cut food stamps, gut health care for low-income people and scare immigrant families from accessing government services,” he said.

State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) was even more blunt.

“Trump needs to back off and focus on his own mess of an administration,” Wiener said. “Rounding up homeless people into federal facilities won’t solve the problem. We need to get people the help they need, including shelter, housing, and other services.”

Trump plans still unclear

Trump officials have not specified what kinds of actions or solutions they would implement in California. 

A senior administration official speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations confirmed to USA TODAY that a team of federal officials was on the ground in California assessing local homeless camps. The official said the team was conducting a fact-finding mission to learn more about the crisis.

The news was first reported by The Washington Post, which cited unnamed officials describing a coming crackdown, particularly in cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco, which have some of the nation’s largest homeless populations.

The report did not specify what actions officials planned to take, but suggested that camps could be razed with homeless individuals moved into either new facilities or refurbished buildings.

According to last year’s survey by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, some 130,000 Californians were homeless, or nearly a quarter of the national total.

Officials said Los Angeles’ “Skid Row” was a particular priority. The area has seen a growing number of homeless as housing prices there and in most California cities continue to skyrocket. Los Angeles County saw nearly 59,000 homeless residents during a June count, up from approximately 55,000 people in 2017. 

Late Tuesday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti released a letter written to Trump that outlined a number of things his administration could do to help the homelessness issue in Los Angeles, which with some 79,000 homeless residents, trails only New York City. 

Garcetti, who recently led administration officials on a tour of a range of homeless shelters and housing complexes, said that although “this crisis is decades in the making,” solutions could include protecting existing fair-housing laws, rescinding proposed HUD rules to evict mixed-status immigrant families from assisted housing, and supporting measures that would expand the housing safety net for veterans and the poor.

No where in Garcetti’s letter did he address the prospect of L.A. homeless encampments being razed and its population’s moved to federal housing projects.

White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement Tuesday that “like many Americans, the president has taken notice of the homelessness crisis, particularly in cities and states where the liberal policies of overregulation, excessive taxation and poor public service delivery are combining to dramatically increase poverty and public health risks.”

Deere added that Trump has “directed his team to go further and develop a range of policy options for consideration to deal with this tragedy.”

First reaction: ‘Internment camps’

But critics are far from eager for the president’s help.

Bob Erlenbusch, executive director of the Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness, fretted that president was looking to round homeless people up.

“My first reaction is that it felt like internment camps for people experiencing homelessness,” he said. “The president doesn’t seem to have any grasp of the homeless crisis not only in California but around the country.”

Some, however, welcomed the possibility of federal intervention.

When asked about whether razing homeless camps could be seen as a violation homeless peoples’ civil rights, U.S. Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) said Democrats across the state might be overreacting.

“Civil rights based on people squatting on land that isn’t theirs, that is a bit of a reach there,” he said.

A meeting held this earlier this year on homelessness in California seemed to presage the administration’s interest in potentially stepping in.

Jonathan Anderson, executive director of the Redding-based Good News Rescue Mission, the only homeless shelter in Shasta County in northern California, said that during a national homelessness conference in April, officials from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development asked to meet with the 30 executive directors of rescue missions from California, Washington and Oregon about possible future partnerships.

The discussions touched on “how could these faith-based nonprofits co-locate and partner and bring the government agencies into sharing the workload that we’re doing. That was very encouraging. No decisions were made. It was just very open dialogue,” he said. 

“They did say,” Anderson added, “that no matter what happens, the majority of this is going to be focused around the L.A. region.”

Trump has had a long running feud not only with California’s governor, but also with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who represents San Francisco. California has filed roughly 50 lawsuits against the Trump administration in the past two years over matters ranging from immigration to the U.S. Census.

The president has not hesitated to blast the largely liberal state, whose importance in the 2020 election has grown since its primary was moved to March.

“Nearly half of all the homeless people living in the streets in America happen to live in the state of California,” Trump said during a rally in Ohio last month. “What they are doing to our beautiful California is a disgrace to our country. It’s a shame.”

Newsom ran for governor on a range of liberal platforms, including addressing homelessness, which in Newsom’s hometown of San Francisco has led to needles and feces being strewn along main business and tourist thoroughfares such as Market Street. 

The governor has pledged $1 billion from his budget to tackling homelessness, including allocating $650 million to local governments to deal with emergency homelessness aid and shelter, and $265 million for mental health support.

It’s unclear how much authority a federal entity might have in trying to implement anti-homelessness measures in California. 

“If you’re not doing anything illegal, authorities can’t just pick you up to tell you where to go,” says Steve Berg, vice president for programs and policy with the National Alliance to End Homelessness in Washington, D.C., a non-profit that works with communities to tackle homelessness.

“Having people at all levels pay attention to this issue is good,” he says. “But only if you’re approaching it in a solution-oriented way.”

Feds can help — with money

David Garcia, policy director at the University of California, Berkeley’s Terner Center for Housing Innovation, said he was skeptical about the Trump administration’s aims. 

“Any strategy that focuses on removing homeless camps and displacing the homeless lacks compassion at best, and at worst exacerbates the challenges,” says Garcia. “Based on this administration’s rhetoric, they don’t seem to be focused on really solving the homelessness crisis.”

Garcia notes that the administration’s increasing pressure on immigrant populations within the U.S. has only added to the growing legions of homeless, as federal assistance continues to dry up and immigrants fear applying for aid.

“If the federal government is interested in helping, that’s great,” says Margot Kushel, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco and director of the Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative, a research center founded by a donation from Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and his wife Lynne.

“What they can start with is dramatically increasing their financial support for affordable housing,” says Kushel.

Since Trump entered office, the White House budget has proposed slashing funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development in each year’s budget. The White House’s 2020 budget proposes slashing the department’s funding by $9.6 billion.

Amid these cutbacks, the Trump administration has expanded grant programs for local agencies working to help individuals experiencing homelessness. The 2020 budget proposed increasing funding for services for people experiencing homelessness by 9% to $2.6 billion.

Despite widespread skepticism over the Trump administration’s potential plans for homeless people in California, some officials acknowledged that the problem may well now be beyond the scope of local and even state officials.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, a Republican, has been critical of the Trump administration and said he didn’t vote for the president in 2016. But like Trump, the San Diego Mayor also says California politicians have largely failed to address the state’s homelessness crisis. In 2018,  the homeless population in San Diego dropped to 8,576 people, down by 600 people from the year before. 

“San Diego has taken significant action over the last few years to reduce homelessness, but cities can’t do it alone,” said Faulconer, who has funded shelters and storage facilities for individuals experiencing homelessness and implemented policies to curb tent encampments and people sleeping in their cars. “We welcome additional federal resources to help us move more individuals off the streets and into housing.”

In nearby Palm Springs, City Councilwoman Christy Holstege said the president was likely attacking state lawmakers for political gain as the 2020 election creeps closer. 

“He’s using talking points to rally his base,” said Holstege. “That’s what he’s doing here, trying to shame California about our homelessness crisis.”

The number of individuals experiencing homelessness in Palm Springs has skyrocketed in recent years, growing to 196 homeless people earlier this year. On Monday, state lawmakers earmarked $10 million to be used to fund homelessness services and infrastructure in the city.

“My question to the president would be if he’s going to raze camps, then where will those people go,” Holstege said. “The reason there are tent camps is because there isn’t sufficient housing.”

Contributing: Samuel Metz, Palm Springs Desert Sun

Follow USA TODAY Network reporters @marcodellacava @michele408 @jfritze

Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/09/10/trump-attacks-california-homeless-crisis-picking-new-fight-state/2279231001/

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New Law Requires New York Schools To Take Moment Of Silence For 9/11

Westlake Legal Group 5d783323240000d32677cb23 New Law Requires New York Schools To Take Moment Of Silence For 9/11

Every public school in New York state will be required to take a moment of silence on Wednesday in remembrance of the devastating attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and United Flight 93 on Sept. 11, 2001, according to new state law.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed a bill into law on Monday establishing September 11th Remembrance Day at all public schools in the state in order to “ensure we never forget ― not just the pain of that moment but of the courage, sacrifice and outpouring of love that defined our response,” the governor said.

The legislation requires schools to take a “brief moment of silence” at the beginning of the school day on Sept. 11 every year. The bill was introduced into the New York Senate by state Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo (D) this year as another generation of students born after 2001 enters the school system.

“I am hopeful that this new law will mean that the significance of the tragic events of September 11th, whether it be the loss of loved ones or the largest rescue operation our nation ever witnessed, will be forever acknowledged by school students too young to have witnessed this life-changing day,” Addabbo said in a statement.

On the day of the attacks, nearly 3,000 people in the U.S. were killed when terrorists hijacked four commercial airplanes. Two of the jets crashed into the Twin Towers in New York, one was flown into the Pentagon and one crashed in an open field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.

An estimated 343 Fire Department of New York firefighters and 71 police officers died while responding to the attack on the World Trade Center. According to CNN, 200 firefighters died in the years afterward from illnesses linked to their search and recovery efforts at Ground Zero.

“9/11 was one of the single darkest periods in this state’s and this nation’s history, and we owe it to those we lost and to the countless heroes who ran toward danger that day and the days that followed to do everything we can to keep their memory alive,” Cuomo said in a statement.

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Arizona trooper arrested on sex-related, kidnapping and fraud charges: police

An Arizona state trooper was arrested Tuesday and charged with 61 counts — ranging from alleged sexual abuse and extortion to kidnapping and fraud — after his department said he was using his position to trade “leniency for favor.”

Tremaine Jackson, 43, worked for the Arizona Department of Public Safety (AZDPS) for 13 years and was assigned to the department’s Metro Motors District when authorities say they started receiving calls from women alleging that he’d made inappropriate comments and sexually abused them while on the job.

ARIZONA WOMAN ARRESTED AFTER DAUGHTER, 10, RECORDS HER DRIVING DRUNK: POLICE

Westlake Legal Group Tremaine-Jackson Arizona trooper arrested on sex-related, kidnapping and fraud charges: police Vandana Rambaran fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/arizona fox-news/us/crime/police-and-law-enforcement fox-news/us/crime fox news fnc/us fnc ccd3c23e-bd3b-5520-b583-51eb34284eee article

Former trooper Tremaine Jackson, 43, was arrested and charged with 61 counts ranging from sexual abuse, sexual extortion, kidnapping, harassment and fraud.

Col. Frank Milstead, director of AZDPS, said at a press conference Tuesday that on May 19, the department received its first complaint from a female motorist. who said Jackson made inappropriate comments to her during a traffic stop.

While investigating that complaint, police received a second complaint that alleged Jackson made inappropriate comments and engaged in “criminal behavior to the extent of sexual abuse,” Milstead said. Jackson was put on administrative leave.

As the AZDPS’s special investigation unit began to further probe Jackson’s behavior while on duty, it contacted several women who had been stopped or cited by him dating back to Oct. 29, 2018, when police believe the first account of inappropriate and unlawful contact occurred.

Milstead said the investigation revealed at least eight women were alleged to have been harassed or sexually abused by Jackson while he was in uniform and in a marked or unmarked Arizona Department trooper car. Further, Milstead said, “we believe this may not be all of our victims.”

“I implore anyone who has contact with Trooper Jackson, who may have been affected by contact with him, who may have been victimized, either through commentary or through physical action by Trooper Jackson to please come forward,” Milstead said.

Jackson will be booked at the Maricopa County Jail on Tuesday afternoon.

In addition to 13 charges of sexual abuse, Jackson also faces eight counts of forgery, a dozen counts of fraudulent schemes and eight counts of tampering with a public record for allegedly falsifying department worksheets or citations, Milstead said.

He also faces eight counts of unlawful imprisonment and eight counts of kidnapping for “keeping people an inordinate amount of time and not allowing them … to leave when they were not under arrest.”

Milstead said Jackson used his positional authority to extort sexual favor from women and called the allegations “horrifying.”

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Westlake Legal Group Tremaine-Jackson Arizona trooper arrested on sex-related, kidnapping and fraud charges: police Vandana Rambaran fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/arizona fox-news/us/crime/police-and-law-enforcement fox-news/us/crime fox news fnc/us fnc ccd3c23e-bd3b-5520-b583-51eb34284eee article   Westlake Legal Group Tremaine-Jackson Arizona trooper arrested on sex-related, kidnapping and fraud charges: police Vandana Rambaran fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/arizona fox-news/us/crime/police-and-law-enforcement fox-news/us/crime fox news fnc/us fnc ccd3c23e-bd3b-5520-b583-51eb34284eee article

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Church leaders charged with using homeless people as forced labor

A dozen leaders of California-based Imperial Valley Ministries, including a former pastor, are accused of using dozens of mostly homeless people as forced labor, making them surrender their government benefits and panhandle up to nine hours a day, six days a week, so the leaders could reap the financial benefit, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

The defendants – including an ex-pastor, Victor Gonzalez – are charged with forced labor, conspiracy, document servitude and benefits fraud. They were arrested Tuesday in El Centro and San Diego, Calif., and Brownsville, Texas. And they were scheduled to appear in court the same day.

Church leaders are accused of scamming victims into rehabilitation homes, forcing them to hand over their welfare benefits and later holding them against their will by confiscating identification cards, driver’s licenses, passports and immigration papers, the Justice Department said.

“The indictment alleges an appalling abuse of power by church officials who preyed on vulnerable homeless people with promises of a warm bed and meals,” U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer said. “These victims were held captive, stripped of their humble financial means, their identification, their freedom and their dignity.”

IVM operates a nondenominational church in El Centro and is said to have some 30 church affiliates throughout the U.S. and Mexico, with locations in cities including Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Phoenix. IVM also owned three group homes in the El Centro area, one in Calexico and another in Chula Vista, the Justice Department said.

FLORIDA GEORGIA LINE TURNS CONCERT INTO WORSHIP SERVICE WITH SPECIAL GUEST: ‘WE’VE NEVER DONE THIS BEFORE’

Victims were recruited from as far away as Texas, allegedly lured with the promise of shelter and free food. The defendants allegedly told the victims they would eventually be able to return home because the church would help provide resources.

Instead, defendants “stole victims’ welfare benefits and required adherence to rules such as, ‘You are not to discuss things of the world,’ ‘The only thing to be read is the Holy Bible,’ and ‘If any of the rules are broken, there will be discipline,’” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Westlake Legal Group c012b928-ImperialValleyMinistries Church leaders charged with using homeless people as forced labor Melissa Leon fox-news/us/us-regions/west/california fox-news/us/us-regions/west fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest fox-news/us/religion fox news fnc/us fnc article 9c3bb288-f17e-5f7c-ba29-885ab166eb36

The headquarters of Imperial Valley Ministries in El Centro, Calif. (Google Earth)

The church claimed to “restore” drug addicts at its group homes and raise money for IVM so it could open more churches and continue its mission in other cities, but many of the victims didn’t require rehabilitation, the Justice Department pointed out.

Victims were allegedly locked in group homes, some of which had their windows nailed shut, according to the indictment. In one case, a 17-year-old broke through a window to escape and call for help, the attorney’s office said.

Defendants also took the victims’ Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards and used their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits improperly, giving them to “ineligible persons” or telling the victims not to seek outside employment, according to the indictment.

VIRGIN MARY PAINTING SHOWS ‘TEARS’ AT CHICAGO CHURCH FACING FORECLOSURE: REPORTS

Church leaders allegedly refused to give the  EBT cards and personal property back when the people in their charge wanted to leave, and coerced victims to stay by threatening to take away their children if they left, saying the victims wouldn’t be provided transportation home, or claiming they had to stay because “only God” loved them and their families would reject them, the Justice Department said.

If victims violated any rules, the defendants inflicted punishments, including withholding food, according to the indictment.

A diabetic woman was allegedly refused medicine or supplies, and even food, to remedy her low blood sugar. That woman is said to have escaped.

All the alleged victims are free.

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“This is the most significant labor trafficking prosecution in this district in many years. These cases are few and far between because many victims live in captivity and fear, powerless to report the crimes against them, Brewer said. “My office wants victims to know that we are here to help you.”

Westlake Legal Group c012b928-ImperialValleyMinistries Church leaders charged with using homeless people as forced labor Melissa Leon fox-news/us/us-regions/west/california fox-news/us/us-regions/west fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest fox-news/us/religion fox news fnc/us fnc article 9c3bb288-f17e-5f7c-ba29-885ab166eb36   Westlake Legal Group c012b928-ImperialValleyMinistries Church leaders charged with using homeless people as forced labor Melissa Leon fox-news/us/us-regions/west/california fox-news/us/us-regions/west fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest fox-news/us/religion fox news fnc/us fnc article 9c3bb288-f17e-5f7c-ba29-885ab166eb36

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Netanyahu, Facing Tough Israel Election, Pledges to Annex a Third of West Bank

JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said Tuesday that he would move swiftly to annex nearly a third of the occupied West Bank if voters returned him to power in the election next week, seizing what he called a historic opportunity from a sympathetic White House to give Israel “secure, permanent borders.”

His plan to annex territory along the Jordan River would reshape the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and would reduce any future Palestinian state to an enclave encircled by Israel.

Mr. Netanyahu’s rivals on the left and right largely greeted the announcement, made in the heat of a campaign in which he is battling for survival, as a transparent political ploy.

Mr. Netanyahu said he planned to annex all Israeli settlements in the West Bank, and that he would move immediately after forming a new government to annex the Jordan Valley, a strategic and fertile strip of territory along the border with Jordan that runs from Beit Shean in northern Israel to the shores of the Dead Sea.

He said he wanted to capitalize on what he called the “unique, one-off opportunity” afforded him by the Trump administration, which has expressed openness to Israeli annexation of at least parts of the West Bank.

“We haven’t had such an opportunity since the Six Day War, and I doubt we’ll have another opportunity in the next 50 years,” Mr. Netanyahu said at a news conference in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan. “Give me the power to guarantee Israel’s security. Give me the power to determine Israel’s borders.”

Israel seized the West Bank from Jordan in the 1967 war. Most of the world considers it occupied territory and Israeli settlements or annexations there to be illegal.

Mr. Netanyahu, who is in a dead heat or slightly behind in the polls against Benny Gantz, a centrist former army chief of staff, has tried mightily to shift the focus of the election from the corruption cases against him to his strong suit: national security.

Westlake Legal Group map-720 Netanyahu, Facing Tough Israel Election, Pledges to Annex a Third of West Bank West Bank Trump, Donald J Politics and Government Palestinians Netanyahu, Benjamin Jerusalem (Israel) Israel elections

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Westlake Legal Group map-460 Netanyahu, Facing Tough Israel Election, Pledges to Annex a Third of West Bank West Bank Trump, Donald J Politics and Government Palestinians Netanyahu, Benjamin Jerusalem (Israel) Israel elections

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Source: Government of Israel

By The New York Times

But Tuesday’s announcement was a daring bid to bring the Palestinian conflict back to center stage in the election campaign. The issue has largely receded from Israeli electoral politics because few voters believe a peace process has any chance.

This was not the first time Mr. Netanyahu has promised annexation days before an election. Before the previous election, in April, in which he was also fighting to shore up right-wing support, he announced his intention to apply Israeli sovereignty to parts of the West Bank, but he gave no specifics and no timetable.

This time, Mr. Netanyahu boasted that thanks to “my personal relationship with President Trump, I will be able to annex all the settlements in the heart of our homeland.”

The White House said in a statement that there was “no change in United States policy at this time,” and confirmed that the administration’s long-promised Middle East peace plan would be released after the election.

Saeb Erekat, the longtime chief Palestinian negotiator, warned Tuesday night that if Mr. Netanyahu manages to put through his plan, he will have “succeeded in burying even any chance of peace between Palestinians and Israelis.”

He added that unilateral annexation of occupied territory was a war crime. “The Israeli, the international community must stop such madness,” he said. “We need to end the conflict and not to keep it for another 100 years.”

In a possible sign of Palestinian displeasure, rockets fired from Gaza later Tuesday night set off alarms in southern Israel, including in Ashdod, where Mr. Netanyahu was hustled offstage by bodyguards to take cover in the middle of a campaign speech.

Reaction to Mr. Netanyahu’s announcement was muted in the Arab world, where the Palestinian cause no longer stirs the passions it once did.

[Why the Arab world isn’t outraged by Netanyahu’s West Bank vow.]

Palestinians see the Jordan Valley as their future breadbasket. Israel’s critics say it has been steadily uprooting Arab farmers and herders from the area.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160556991_963f6286-799f-4c92-89ef-add42b0970c8-articleLarge Netanyahu, Facing Tough Israel Election, Pledges to Annex a Third of West Bank West Bank Trump, Donald J Politics and Government Palestinians Netanyahu, Benjamin Jerusalem (Israel) Israel elections

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said that he wants to swiftly annex the Jordan Valley, which accounts for nearly a third of the occupied West Bank.CreditOded Balilty/Associated Press

Daniel C. Kurtzer, a former United States ambassador to Israel under Republican and Democratic administrations, said there was a consensus within Israel’s national-security establishment that Israel should retain control of the valley for some period after a peace treaty is signed, to ensure that the Palestinians continue to cooperate with Israel to maintain security.

But unilateral annexation was another thing, he said.

“If Netanyahu now says forever,” Mr. Kurtzer said, “this clearly will not be acceptable to any present or future Palestinian leader.”

As for the American support, Daniel B. Shapiro, the former ambassador to Israel under President Obama, warned that any celebration of a Trump recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank could be short-lived. “A Democratic successor to Trump would certainly withdraw U.S. recognition,” he said.

Mr. Netanyahu’s gambit also met deep skepticism among Israeli analysts, who said he has frequently made election-eve promises that went unfulfilled, and noted that earlier right-wing attempts at annexing parts of the West Bank were blocked by none other than him.

But his career could end if he does not siphon enough votes from parties to his right in the campaign’s final days, and his announcement was clearly aimed at tempting Israelis who support annexing the West Bank into giving him the benefit of the doubt.

His main opponents from the center — Mr. Gantz and the other former army chiefs who are running in his Blue and White party — have said publicly that Israel must not yield the Jordan Valley for security reasons, leaving them little room to challenge his plan.

In a speech late Tuesday, Mr. Gantz looked past the specific proposal to assail Mr. Netanyahu for damaging the long-term relationship with the United States by exploiting it for short-term political needs.

“Netanyahu is using and hurting the ties between Israel and the U.S.” he said. “He is harming our ties with the Jewish community in the U.S. He is linking our politics with the Americans, and this is wrong. Our ties are strategic, these connections are deep and vital and are based on shared interests and not on election-time deals.”

Several American Jewish groups supporting a two-state solution immediately condemned Mr. Netanyahu’s plan.

Mr. Netanyahu visiting an Israeli army post overlooking the Jordan Valley in June with John R. Bolton, then President Trump’s national security adviser.CreditAbir Sultan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“These are unilateral moves endangering Israel as a Jewish and democratic state and further limiting the possibility of a two-state solution,” Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, said in a statement. “Such serious pronouncements don’t belong in the final week of a heated campaign.”

[Why is the Jordan Valley strategically important? A closer look.]

In Israel, nearly half of Jewish Israelis have said they would favor annexation if it were supported by the Trump administration, one recent poll found. Fewer than three in 10 said they were opposed.

Settler groups welcomed Mr. Netanyahu’s call for a mandate to annex territory, but they too were dubious. “The true test will be in actions, not announcements,” Regavim, a pro-settlement group that fights Palestinian construction on the West Bank, said in a statement.

Yamina, the right-wing party led by Mr. Netanyahu’s former justice minister, Ayelet Shaked, challenged Mr. Netanyahu to bring his annexation plan before the current government within hours, “otherwise everyone in Israel will know this is nothing but a cheap political spin.”

The election on Tuesday is taking place because Mr. Netanyahu failed to form a governing coalition after the April ballot when a onetime ally, Avigdor Lieberman of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, refused to join him.

Mr. Lieberman mocked Mr. Netanyahu’s announcement afterward in a two-word tweet alluding to how it had been advertised: “Dramatic statement,” he said, adding two emojis showing tears of laughter.

Advocates of a two-state solution to the Palestinian conflict, who have been warning that annexation would ultimately be disastrous for Israel, said Tuesday that a move like the one Mr. Netanyahu was proposing could be enough to drive the Palestinian Authority, which governs the West Bank, either to abandon its security cooperation with Israel on the West Bank or to fold up its tents altogether.

Either action could lead to violence that could force Israel to send troops back into territory where Palestinians have largely policed themselves under the quarter-century-old Oslo peace accords, said Nimrod Novik, a veteran Israeli negotiator.

“Unlike many of his coalition colleagues, Netanyahu cannot get a pass for not understanding the potentially devastating consequences,” Mr. Novik said. “Consequently, risking chaos on the West Bank and likely spillover to Gaza is worse than reckless. It is stupid.”

“If it is just electioneering, it signals panic,” he added. “If there is a risk that he will make good on it, that is probably the most important reason to hope that he is not re-elected.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Arnon Mishkin: Thursday Dem debate has these opportunities and risks for candidates

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6084422246001_6084424479001-vs Arnon Mishkin: Thursday Dem debate has these opportunities and risks for candidates fox-news/us/democratic-party fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/joe-biden fox-news/person/elizabeth-warren fox-news/person/bernie-sanders fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc article Arnon Mishkin 501956db-0e3c-5c17-afea-5123df97509a

Democratic presidential hopefuls will have their first debate featuring just the 10 leaders Thursday. Previous sessions have stretched over two nights, which prevented the top candidates – former Vice President Joe Biden, and Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. – from sharing the same stage.

While earlier televised debates provided some opportunities for others, especially Sens. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Cory Booker, D-N.J., none of the lower-tier candidates has been able to convert them into any serious momentum.

Thursday’s one-night debate may lead to higher TV ratings, and it will also provide opportunities and risks for the contenders.

LONG-SHOT GOP PRIMARY CHALLENGERS TO HAVE THEIR OWN DEBATE THIS MONTH – MINUS TRUMP

The leaders have a chance to draw a contrast among themselves. For candidates “in the pack,” there is a chance for a strong showing that could get featured in the post-debate coverage, and transform struggling campaigns.

CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR OUR OPINION NEWSLETTER

That’s essential for them, because a look at polls over the past six months suggests that only two things have changed in the race, and they have little to do with the debates.

More from Opinion

First, Biden announced with a clear anti-Trump message and managed, like a hare, to gain roughly 10 points, according to RealClear Politics averages.

Second, Warren’s focus on explicit policy proposals, far from pigeon-holing her as the ivory-towered professor, has given her tortoise-like momentum and moved her into the top three out the 20 current candidates.

So far there’s not much more that describes how the race has unfolded to date, with Warren’s movement apparently at the expense of Sanders. About the only dissent from this comes from a set of recent CBS News polls.

The conventional wisdom this year is that the race has “nationalized” – and that the state results are likely to mirror the national polls. But CBS found Warren a clear third in Iowa (but currently leading in New Hampshire). If Sanders manages to finish ahead of Warren in Iowa, then he could get significant momentum leading for New Hampshire, which is eight days later.

But until those contests start, we only have polling data. And thus far the story hasn’t changed.

Biden’s view of the race continues to be that President Trump is weak and controversial, and the party should nominate a centrist who can keep the focus squarely on Trump.

Who better to do that than Barack Obama’s eight-year vice president?

Sanders and Warren take the opposite view. They say the Democrats should articulate a very different approach for America. Sanders thinks he’s the best at this, because he’s been doing it the longest. Warren thinks she’s the best candidate because she has proposed the most detailed programs.

The polls suggest the party actually divides along the lines of those two visions of the campaign.

Voters favoring Biden generally want the party to nominate someone who can “beat Trump,” while those supporting Warren and Sanders want a nominee who will fundamentally change how the economy works, moving the nation farther left.

According to a Fox News Poll in July, 6 in 10 Democratic primary voters made ousting Trump their top consideration in a picking a nominee, while 4 in 10 say they want the party to nominate someone who will make fundamental changes.

The advantage for Warren and Sanders right now is that they are the only candidates fighting for the other 40 percent of Democrats who make major economic change their top concern. Viewers of the debate Thursday will see for themselves if Warren or Sanders can make the case that they are the standard-bearer for the “fundamental change” voter.

As for the rest of the pack, the question will be whether any candidate can convince voters that he or she would be better than Biden in articulating a winning Democratic vision for the country.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Will the story change Thursday night? Maybe, but so far the debates really haven’t changed a thing. We could keep seeing a static Democratic race until Feb. 3, the night of the Iowa caucus.

Appropriately enough. It’s right after Groundhog Day.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE BY ARNON MISHKIN

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6084422246001_6084424479001-vs Arnon Mishkin: Thursday Dem debate has these opportunities and risks for candidates fox-news/us/democratic-party fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/joe-biden fox-news/person/elizabeth-warren fox-news/person/bernie-sanders fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc article Arnon Mishkin 501956db-0e3c-5c17-afea-5123df97509a   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6084422246001_6084424479001-vs Arnon Mishkin: Thursday Dem debate has these opportunities and risks for candidates fox-news/us/democratic-party fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/joe-biden fox-news/person/elizabeth-warren fox-news/person/bernie-sanders fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc article Arnon Mishkin 501956db-0e3c-5c17-afea-5123df97509a

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Arnon Mishkin: Thursday Dem debate has these opportunities and risks for candidates

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6084422246001_6084424479001-vs Arnon Mishkin: Thursday Dem debate has these opportunities and risks for candidates fox-news/us/democratic-party fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/joe-biden fox-news/person/elizabeth-warren fox-news/person/bernie-sanders fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc article Arnon Mishkin 501956db-0e3c-5c17-afea-5123df97509a

Democratic presidential hopefuls will have their first debate featuring just the 10 leaders Thursday. Previous sessions have stretched over two nights, which prevented the top candidates – former Vice President Joe Biden, and Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. – from sharing the same stage.

While earlier televised debates provided some opportunities for others, especially Sens. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Cory Booker, D-N.J., none of the lower-tier candidates has been able to convert them into any serious momentum.

Thursday’s one-night debate may lead to higher TV ratings, and it will also provide opportunities and risks for the contenders.

LONG-SHOT GOP PRIMARY CHALLENGERS TO HAVE THEIR OWN DEBATE THIS MONTH – MINUS TRUMP

The leaders have a chance to draw a contrast among themselves. For candidates “in the pack,” there is a chance for a strong showing that could get featured in the post-debate coverage, and transform struggling campaigns.

CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR OUR OPINION NEWSLETTER

That’s essential for them, because a look at polls over the past six months suggests that only two things have changed in the race, and they have little to do with the debates.

More from Opinion

First, Biden announced with a clear anti-Trump message and managed, like a hare, to gain roughly 10 points, according to RealClear Politics averages.

Second, Warren’s focus on explicit policy proposals, far from pigeon-holing her as the ivory-towered professor, has given her tortoise-like momentum and moved her into the top three out the 20 current candidates.

So far there’s not much more that describes how the race has unfolded to date, with Warren’s movement apparently at the expense of Sanders. About the only dissent from this comes from a set of recent CBS News polls.

The conventional wisdom this year is that the race has “nationalized” – and that the state results are likely to mirror the national polls. But CBS found Warren a clear third in Iowa (but currently leading in New Hampshire). If Sanders manages to finish ahead of Warren in Iowa, then he could get significant momentum leading for New Hampshire, which is eight days later.

But until those contests start, we only have polling data. And thus far the story hasn’t changed.

Biden’s view of the race continues to be that President Trump is weak and controversial, and the party should nominate a centrist who can keep the focus squarely on Trump.

Who better to do that than Barack Obama’s eight-year vice president?

Sanders and Warren take the opposite view. They say the Democrats should articulate a very different approach for America. Sanders thinks he’s the best at this, because he’s been doing it the longest. Warren thinks she’s the best candidate because she has proposed the most detailed programs.

The polls suggest the party actually divides along the lines of those two visions of the campaign.

Voters favoring Biden generally want the party to nominate someone who can “beat Trump,” while those supporting Warren and Sanders want a nominee who will fundamentally change how the economy works, moving the nation farther left.

According to a Fox News Poll in July, 6 in 10 Democratic primary voters made ousting Trump their top consideration in a picking a nominee, while 4 in 10 say they want the party to nominate someone who will make fundamental changes.

The advantage for Warren and Sanders right now is that they are the only candidates fighting for the other 40 percent of Democrats who make major economic change their top concern. Viewers of the debate Thursday will see for themselves if Warren or Sanders can make the case that they are the standard-bearer for the “fundamental change” voter.

As for the rest of the pack, the question will be whether any candidate can convince voters that he or she would be better than Biden in articulating a winning Democratic vision for the country.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Will the story change Thursday night? Maybe, but so far the debates really haven’t changed a thing. We could keep seeing a static Democratic race until Feb. 3, the night of the Iowa caucus.

Appropriately enough. It’s right after Groundhog Day.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE BY ARNON MISHKIN

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6084422246001_6084424479001-vs Arnon Mishkin: Thursday Dem debate has these opportunities and risks for candidates fox-news/us/democratic-party fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/joe-biden fox-news/person/elizabeth-warren fox-news/person/bernie-sanders fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc article Arnon Mishkin 501956db-0e3c-5c17-afea-5123df97509a   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6084422246001_6084424479001-vs Arnon Mishkin: Thursday Dem debate has these opportunities and risks for candidates fox-news/us/democratic-party fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/joe-biden fox-news/person/elizabeth-warren fox-news/person/bernie-sanders fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc article Arnon Mishkin 501956db-0e3c-5c17-afea-5123df97509a

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Netanyahu, Facing Tough Israel Election, Pledges to Annex a Third of West Bank

JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said Tuesday that he would move swiftly to annex nearly a third of the occupied West Bank if voters returned him to power in the election next week, seizing what he called a historic opportunity from a sympathetic White House to give Israel “secure, permanent borders.”

His plan to annex territory along the Jordan River would reshape the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and would reduce any future Palestinian state to an enclave encircled by Israel.

Mr. Netanyahu’s rivals on the left and right largely greeted the announcement, made in the heat of a campaign in which he is battling for survival, as a transparent political ploy.

Mr. Netanyahu said he planned to annex all Israeli settlements in the West Bank, and that he would move immediately after forming a new government to annex the Jordan Valley, a strategic and fertile strip of territory along the border with Jordan that runs from Beit Shean in northern Israel to the shores of the Dead Sea.

He said he wanted to capitalize on what he called the “unique, one-off opportunity” afforded him by the Trump administration, which has expressed openness to Israeli annexation of at least parts of the West Bank.

“We haven’t had such an opportunity since the Six Day War, and I doubt we’ll have another opportunity in the next 50 years,” Mr. Netanyahu said at a news conference in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan. “Give me the power to guarantee Israel’s security. Give me the power to determine Israel’s borders.”

Israel seized the West Bank from Jordan in the 1967 war. Most of the world considers it occupied territory and Israeli settlements or annexations there to be illegal.

Mr. Netanyahu, who is in a dead heat or slightly behind in the polls against Benny Gantz, a centrist former army chief of staff, has tried mightily to shift the focus of the election from the corruption cases against him to his strong suit: national security.

Westlake Legal Group map-720 Netanyahu, Facing Tough Israel Election, Pledges to Annex a Third of West Bank West Bank Trump, Donald J Politics and Government Palestinians Netanyahu, Benjamin Jerusalem (Israel) Israel elections

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Westlake Legal Group map-460 Netanyahu, Facing Tough Israel Election, Pledges to Annex a Third of West Bank West Bank Trump, Donald J Politics and Government Palestinians Netanyahu, Benjamin Jerusalem (Israel) Israel elections

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Westlake Legal Group map-335 Netanyahu, Facing Tough Israel Election, Pledges to Annex a Third of West Bank West Bank Trump, Donald J Politics and Government Palestinians Netanyahu, Benjamin Jerusalem (Israel) Israel elections

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Source: Government of Israel

By The New York Times

But Tuesday’s announcement was a daring bid to bring the Palestinian conflict back to center stage in the election campaign. The issue has largely receded from Israeli electoral politics because few voters believe a peace process has any chance.

This was not the first time Mr. Netanyahu has promised annexation days before an election. Before the previous election, in April, in which he was also fighting to shore up right-wing support, he announced his intention to apply Israeli sovereignty to parts of the West Bank, but he gave no specifics and no timetable.

This time, Mr. Netanyahu boasted that thanks to “my personal relationship with President Trump, I will be able to annex all the settlements in the heart of our homeland.”

The White House said in a statement that there was “no change in United States policy at this time,” and confirmed that the administration’s long-promised Middle East peace plan would be released after the election.

Saeb Erekat, the longtime chief Palestinian negotiator, warned Tuesday night that if Mr. Netanyahu manages to put through his plan, he will have “succeeded in burying even any chance of peace between Palestinians and Israelis.”

He added that unilateral annexation of occupied territory was a war crime. “The Israeli, the international community must stop such madness,” he said. “We need to end the conflict and not to keep it for another 100 years.”

In a possible sign of Palestinian displeasure, rockets fired from Gaza later Tuesday night set off alarms in southern Israel, including in Ashdod, where Mr. Netanyahu was hustled offstage by bodyguards to take cover in the middle of a campaign speech.

Reaction to Mr. Netanyahu’s announcement was muted in the Arab world, where the Palestinian cause no longer stirs the passions it once did.

[Why the Arab world isn’t outraged by Netanyahu’s West Bank vow.]

Palestinians see the Jordan Valley as their future breadbasket. Israel’s critics say it has been steadily uprooting Arab farmers and herders from the area.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160556991_963f6286-799f-4c92-89ef-add42b0970c8-articleLarge Netanyahu, Facing Tough Israel Election, Pledges to Annex a Third of West Bank West Bank Trump, Donald J Politics and Government Palestinians Netanyahu, Benjamin Jerusalem (Israel) Israel elections

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said that he wants to swiftly annex the Jordan Valley, which accounts for nearly a third of the occupied West Bank.CreditOded Balilty/Associated Press

Daniel C. Kurtzer, a former United States ambassador to Israel under Republican and Democratic administrations, said there was a consensus within Israel’s national-security establishment that Israel should retain control of the valley for some period after a peace treaty is signed, to ensure that the Palestinians continue to cooperate with Israel to maintain security.

But unilateral annexation was another thing, he said.

“If Netanyahu now says forever,” Mr. Kurtzer said, “this clearly will not be acceptable to any present or future Palestinian leader.”

As for the American support, Daniel B. Shapiro, the former ambassador to Israel under President Obama, warned that any celebration of a Trump recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank could be short-lived. “A Democratic successor to Trump would certainly withdraw U.S. recognition,” he said.

Mr. Netanyahu’s gambit also met deep skepticism among Israeli analysts, who said he has frequently made election-eve promises that went unfulfilled, and noted that earlier right-wing attempts at annexing parts of the West Bank were blocked by none other than him.

But his career could end if he does not siphon enough votes from parties to his right in the campaign’s final days, and his announcement was clearly aimed at tempting Israelis who support annexing the West Bank into giving him the benefit of the doubt.

His main opponents from the center — Mr. Gantz and the other former army chiefs who are running in his Blue and White party — have said publicly that Israel must not yield the Jordan Valley for security reasons, leaving them little room to challenge his plan.

In a speech late Tuesday, Mr. Gantz looked past the specific proposal to assail Mr. Netanyahu for damaging the long-term relationship with the United States by exploiting it for short-term political needs.

“Netanyahu is using and hurting the ties between Israel and the U.S.” he said. “He is harming our ties with the Jewish community in the U.S. He is linking our politics with the Americans, and this is wrong. Our ties are strategic, these connections are deep and vital and are based on shared interests and not on election-time deals.”

Several American Jewish groups supporting a two-state solution immediately condemned Mr. Netanyahu’s plan.

Mr. Netanyahu visiting an Israeli army post overlooking the Jordan Valley in June with John R. Bolton, then President Trump’s national security adviser.CreditAbir Sultan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“These are unilateral moves endangering Israel as a Jewish and democratic state and further limiting the possibility of a two-state solution,” Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, said in a statement. “Such serious pronouncements don’t belong in the final week of a heated campaign.”

[Why is the Jordan Valley strategically important? A closer look.]

In Israel, nearly half of Jewish Israelis have said they would favor annexation if it were supported by the Trump administration, one recent poll found. Fewer than three in 10 said they were opposed.

Settler groups welcomed Mr. Netanyahu’s call for a mandate to annex territory, but they too were dubious. “The true test will be in actions, not announcements,” Regavim, a pro-settlement group that fights Palestinian construction on the West Bank, said in a statement.

Yamina, the right-wing party led by Mr. Netanyahu’s former justice minister, Ayelet Shaked, challenged Mr. Netanyahu to bring his annexation plan before the current government within hours, “otherwise everyone in Israel will know this is nothing but a cheap political spin.”

The election on Tuesday is taking place because Mr. Netanyahu failed to form a governing coalition after the April ballot when a onetime ally, Avigdor Lieberman of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, refused to join him.

Mr. Lieberman mocked Mr. Netanyahu’s announcement afterward in a two-word tweet alluding to how it had been advertised: “Dramatic statement,” he said, adding two emojis showing tears of laughter.

Advocates of a two-state solution to the Palestinian conflict, who have been warning that annexation would ultimately be disastrous for Israel, said Tuesday that a move like the one Mr. Netanyahu was proposing could be enough to drive the Palestinian Authority, which governs the West Bank, either to abandon its security cooperation with Israel on the West Bank or to fold up its tents altogether.

Either action could lead to violence that could force Israel to send troops back into territory where Palestinians have largely policed themselves under the quarter-century-old Oslo peace accords, said Nimrod Novik, a veteran Israeli negotiator.

“Unlike many of his coalition colleagues, Netanyahu cannot get a pass for not understanding the potentially devastating consequences,” Mr. Novik said. “Consequently, risking chaos on the West Bank and likely spillover to Gaza is worse than reckless. It is stupid.”

“If it is just electioneering, it signals panic,” he added. “If there is a risk that he will make good on it, that is probably the most important reason to hope that he is not re-elected.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Mass Stampede At Iraqi Shia Shrine Kills More Than 30 Pilgrims

Westlake Legal Group ap_19253613616458-3578fcd09e9bdccd0ec6cfdf202886b6b430e220-s1100-c15 Mass Stampede At Iraqi Shia Shrine Kills More Than 30 Pilgrims

People evacuate an injured man after a walkway collapsed and set off a stampede as thousands of Shiite Muslims marked one of the most solemn holy days of the year in the holy city of Karbala, Iraq, on Tuesday. Anmar Khalil/AP hide caption

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Anmar Khalil/AP

Westlake Legal Group  Mass Stampede At Iraqi Shia Shrine Kills More Than 30 Pilgrims

People evacuate an injured man after a walkway collapsed and set off a stampede as thousands of Shiite Muslims marked one of the most solemn holy days of the year in the holy city of Karbala, Iraq, on Tuesday.

Anmar Khalil/AP

A mass stampede at a Shia Muslim shrine in the Iraqi city of Karbala left at least 31 people dead and about 100 injured. Ten of the injured are in critical condition, according to local officials, and the death toll could rise.

There are conflicting reports on what caused the stampede as thousands of Shia Muslims gathered for the Ashoura commemoration of the death of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammad, who died in battle in the year 680.

The stampede was triggered by one person who stumbled and fell during a ritual known as the “Tuwairij run,” officials told the BBC.

A mass panic ensued when a walkway collapsed near the gold-domed Imam Hussein shrine, according to officials cited by The Associated Press. Another official told the AP that there had been no collapse or crack in the walkway near the shrine.

In the “Tuwairij run” thousands of pilgrims symbolically re-trace the steps of the maternal cousins of Imam Hussein’s half-brother al-Abbas who ran from the ancient village of Tuwairij to Karbala to aid the imam in the 7th century battle. They arrived too late.

Hussein’s martyrdom was a key event in the unfolding schism between Sunni and Shia Muslims.

The Ashoura procession was targeted for violence in 2004 when more than 140 people were killed in near simultaneous bombings in Baghdad and Karbala during the height of sectarian violence in Iraq.

The following year, 2005, during a different religious holiday, rumors of a suicide bomber caused a mass stampede on a Baghdad bridge crossing the Tigris River. More than 950 worshippers were killed.

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