Designer draws from Israel’s many tribes

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Designer Hed Mayner is not afraid to play with the totems of Israeli life, from a trench coat made from a military tent to a sleeveless beach top cut from a Jewish prayer shawl.

The 30-year-old from a hippyish village in Galilee joyously mixed djellabas, jogging pants, jeans and PVC jackets in his debut Paris men’s fashion show this weekend.

He started designing at 16 inspired by the collection of kimonos a neighbor in his forest community near the Lebanese border had brought home from her time in Japan.

“When you’re isolated from urban life, you have this fantasy of it that never really fits with reality and you can kind of develop this universe,” he told AFP of his eclectic influences.

His village of 40 families near Amuka in the north of the country is a pilgrimage site for Orthodox and Hasidic Jews who flock to the tomb of a famous rabbi to pray for a good marriage.

This helped kindle his fascination with Orthodox Jewish clothing, although he was never religious himself.

“They wear tailored pieces but not in a sharp suited way,” said Mayner, whose parents are artists.

‘Multicultural to the extreme’

“You have the big shoulders, the jacket and the sleeves that are too long… I really like this idea of disproportion but it’s still tailored and very structured.

“They have these shops which sells one jacket in a million sizes.”

Orthodox Jews like their clothes to “really wrap the body” and handed them down from “from one kid to the another, he added.

Mayner said he drew much of his inspiration from both the military and religious uniforms of the Jewish state’s diverse though not always harmonious communities.

“Israelis don’t see fashion in the same way Europeans see it. It is not something that is very important in everyday life. In Israel people are in uniforms.”

Nowhere more so than in the contested holy city of Jerusalem, he said.

“I love Jerusalem but it’s a very difficult place to live because it’s super intense. You have craziness there all the time, you know the ‘Jerusalem syndrome’, you really feel it.

“Society there is very uniformed, everybody is in uniform and it’s kind of multicultural to the extreme.

“Israel is very split. You have the most secular people and very religious people.”

Mayner preferred to set up his studio in the more liberal beach-side city of Tel Aviv with its creative and international outlook.

As well as French style influences, “Tel Aviv is also linked to Berlin culture,” he said. “The city is half very old, half very new buildings and everything is under construction.

“There is so much around and the idea of creating something is very strong,” not only in fashion but “from start-up people to industrial designers.”

His clothes, however, are not are yet sold in his homeland, instead going to shops in Europe and the United States.

And being a fan of the Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto, he is chuffed about how well they sell in Japan.

“I think the Japanese understand my clothes better than I do myself,” he said. afp

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Londoners hold vigil for mosque attack victims

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Londoners bearing flowers and messages of solidarity gathered Monday at the spot where a man plowed a van into Muslims leaving prayers at a mosque, the fourth terror strike in Britain in four months.

Eleven people were injured in the attack, which took place early Monday near Finsbury Park mosque, north London, raising fears of retaliation against Muslims after recent assaults by Islamic extremists.

One elderly man, who had collapsed just before the incident, was pronounced dead at the scene, but it is not yet known whether his death was directly linked to the van assault.

Among the roughly 100 people at the vigil, some carried signs reading “United Against All Terror.”

“One of the things that all these terrorists share is a perverse ideology that wants to fuel division and divide our communities. We’re not going to let them,” said Mayor Sadiq Khan, speaking after prayers at the Muslim Welfare House on Monday evening.

Flowers were left at the scene where hours earlier the 47-year-old van driver was pinned down by locals and shielded from violence by an imam, before being detained by police.

The driver was later arrested on suspicion of “the commission, preparation or instigation of terrorism including murder and attempted murder”, the police said.

The suspect was identified by British media as Darren Osborne, a father of four who lived in the Welsh capital Cardiff.

As police searched a property, five residents speaking to journalists from the Press Association news agency identified images of the arrested man as their neighbour, Osborne.

Security Minister Ben Wallace told BBC radio that the suspect was “not known to us.”

London police chief Cressida Dick said the incident was “quite clearly an attack on Muslims” and promised a stepped-up police presence near mosques as the holy month of Ramadan draws to a close.

Witness Abdiqadir Warra told AFP the van “drove at people” and that some of the victims were carried for several meters along the road.

“He was shouting: ‘I want to kill all Muslims,’” another witness, Khalid Amin, told BBC television.

The Finsbury Park Mosque said the van “deliberately mowed down Muslim men and women leaving late evening prayers” at the mosque and the nearby Muslim Welfare House shortly after midnight.

Eleven people were hurt, all Muslims, with nine requiring hospital treatment. Two were in a very serious condition, police said.

One Algerian man was among those injured, the north African country said.

Locals pinned down the driver and the imam of the Muslim Welfare House stepped in to stop him receiving a mob beating.

France and Germany quickly condemned the attack and Egypt’s Al-Azhar institution, the leading authority in Sunni Islam, condemned it as “sinful.”

“Al-Azhar affirms its total rejection of this terrorist, racist, sinful act, calling on Western countries to take all precautionary measures to limit the phenomenon of Islamophobia,” it said in a statement.

US President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka expressed solidarity with the worshippers in a tweet but her father has so far not commented.

Prime Minister Theresa May, who was heavily criticized for failing to meet survivors of a devastating fire in a London tower block last week, visited Finsbury Park Mosque where she met local faith leaders.

May condemned the assault as “sickening,” saying Britain’s determination to fight “terrorism, extremism and hatred… must be the same, whoever is responsible.”

The use of a vehicle to mow down pedestrians drew parallels with this month’s London Bridge attack.

In that incident, three men slammed a van into pedestrians before embarking on a stabbing spree — an attack claimed by the Islamic State group.

In March London was hit with another car and knife rampage, that one near parliament. It was also claimed by IS.

This time the attacker deliberately targeted Muslims, according to the police.

“Over the past weeks and months, Muslims have endured many incidents of Islamophobia and this is the most violent manifestation to date,” said Harun Khan, head of the Muslim Council of Britain, an umbrella body.

After the London Bridge attack, the mayor’s office reported a 40 percent increase in racist incidents in the capital and a five-fold increase in anti-Muslim incidents.

Mohammed Kozbar, chairman of the Finsbury Park Mosque, described the attack as “cowardly.”

“Our community is in shock,” he said, urging people attending prayers to remain vigilant.

It was the third major incident in the capital this month, after the London Bridge attack and last week’s devastating fire in the Grenfell Tower block, in which 79 people are thought to have died.

“This is an extraordinary city of extraordinary people,” May said outside Downing Street after chairing an emergency government meeting.

“Diverse, welcoming, vibrant, compassionate, confident and determined never to give in to hate.”

Last month, a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a pop concert in Britain’s third city of Manchester, killing 22 people, many of them children.

The Finsbury Park Mosque was once a notorious hub for radical Islamists but has changed markedly in recent years under new management.

Its former imam, Abu Hamza, was jailed for life in New York on terrorism charges in 2015.

Despite the change in leadership and the focus on bolstering inter-faith relations, the mosque reported it had received a string of threatening emails and letters in the wake of the Paris attacks. afp

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Israeli officer killed, three Palestinian attackers shot dead: police

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An Israeli policewoman was stabbed and killed in an attack outside Jerusalem’s Old City on Friday and security forces shot dead three suspected Palestinian assailants, police said.

The attack took place as Muslims marked the end of the third Friday of the fasting month of Ramadan, during which tens of thousands of Palestinians from east Jerusalem and the West Bank attended prayers at the nearby Al-Aqsa mosque compound, Islam’s third-holiest site.

“Female border policewoman injured critically in attack at Damascus gate,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld wrote in a statement. “3 Arab terrorists shot by police units that responded at the scene.”

Police said the three were killed.

The policewoman was taken to hospital in critical condition and later died of her wounds. She was identified as Hadas Malka, 23, a staff sergeant major.

According to police, two perpetrators opened fire at a group of police officers who returned fire, and a third stabbed the border policewoman a short distance away before being shot.

Jerusalem police chief Yoram Halevy identified the three attackers as Palestinians from the West Bank.

- Ramadan activity -

Israel had eased restrictions on the entrance of Palestinians from the West Bank for Ramadan, including permitting daily family visits during Sundays through Thursdays.

“During Ramadan there are large numbers of (Palestinian) youths who enter without permits, they take advantage of Ramadan to be in Jerusalem,” Halevy told media at the scene of the attack.

Following the attack, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a phone consultation with the chief of police and public security minister, and decided to cancel the family visits, a police statement read.

Netanyahu, however, did not revoke the permission given to Palestinian men aged over 40 from the West Bank to enter Jerusalem for Friday prayers, police said.

The area around Damascus Gate was sealed off in the hours after the attack, with a few youths throwing fireworks at security forces.

A road leading to Damascus Gate full of stalls opened especially for Ramadan was closed off by police, and a shopkeeper said this would normally be one of the busiest nights of the year.

Inside the Old City shops were open but the atmosphere was subdued and numbers of people much lower than normal.

Large numbers of heavily armed security forces were patrolling throughout the Old City, an AFP reporter said.

- ‘Popular terror activity’ -

The Shin Bet internal security agency identified the three perpetrators as Braa Salah and Asama Atta, both born in 1998, and Adel Ankush, born the following year.

All three were from Deir Abu Mashal, a village near Ramallah, and had been arrested for or involved in “popular terror activity,” a Shin Bet statement read.

A fourth Palestinian, a Hebron resident who had been identified by Palestinian security as a perpetrator, was in fact a passerby who was wounded by gunshots and taken to hospital, Israeli police said.

Medics said four people besides the officer were wounded in the incident, two of them moderately and two lightly. Two of those wounded were Palestinians from east Jerusalem.

The Islamist movement Hamas that rules the Gaza Strip condemned the shooting of the Palestinians as a “crime by the occupation.”

A spokesman for the movement, Hazem Qassem, said the attack was “proof that the Palestinian people are leading a revolution against the enemy.”

He also said the attack proved the Palestinian Authority’s policy of security coordination with Israel was wrong, calling it “a national crime”.

A wave of unrest that broke out in October 2015 has claimed the lives of 272 Palestinians, 42 Israelis, two Americans, two Jordanians, an Eritrean, a Sudanese and a Briton, according to an AFP tally.

Israeli authorities say most of the Palestinians killed were carrying out knife, gun or car-ramming attacks.

The Old City in annexed east Jerusalem is one of the focal points of the wave of violence. afp

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Jordanian stabs Israeli officer in Jerusalem, shot dead: police

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A Jordanian man stabbed and wounded an Israeli officer in annexed east Jerusalem on Saturday before being shot dead, police said.

The officer was taken to hospital with “moderate” injuries after the attack in the walled Old City, police spokeswoman Luba Samri said in a statement.

Police identified the assailant as Mohammad Skaji, a 57-year-old Jordanian who the statement said had “entered Israel a few days ago”.

They said he brandished a knife and stabbed the policeman in one of the alleys of the Old City before the wounded officer, who had just come off duty, shot him dead.

Two Israeli passers-by tried to help the policeman, police added.

The Jordanian government denounced the “crime” of the death of its citizen, giving his full name as Mohammed Abdullah Salim al-Kassaji.

“The Israeli government, which is the occupying force, bears responsibility for the shooting of a Jordanian citizen in occupied east Jerusalem which led to his martyrdom,” government spokesman Mohamed Momani said in a statement.

“The government denounces this heinous crime… and has asked Israel to provide full details about it,” he added.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office responded, condemning what it called “the Jordanian government spokesman’s support for the terrorist attack”.

“The security cameras clearly show a Jordanian tourist stabbing an Israeli officer,” it said in a statement.

“Just as Israel condemns terrorist attacks in Jordan, Jordan should condemn attacks in Israel.”

In 1994, Jordan made peace with Israel. Jordan and Egypt are the only two Arab countries to have peace agreements with the Jewish state.

A wave of unrest that broke out in October 2015 has claimed the lives of 263 Palestinians, 41 Israelis, two Americans, two Jordanians, an Eritrean, a Sudanese and a Briton, according to an AFP count.

Most of the Palestinians killed were carrying out knife, gun or car-ramming attacks, the Israeli authorities say.

Others were shot dead during protests or clashes, while some were killed in Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip.

The violence has subsided in recent months. afp

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Newly restored shrine at Jesus’ tomb reopened in Jerusalem

 

The ornate shrine surrounding what is believed to be Jesus’ tomb was reopened at a ceremony in Jerusalem on Wednesday (March 22) following nine months of delicate restoration work.

Religious leaders opened the ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built at the site where Christians believe Jesus was crucified and buried.

Centuries of candle smoke and visiting pilgrims had left the 19th-century ornate edicule or shrine discoloured and almost black.

Parts of it were also coming loose, with warnings that it was structurally unsound and posed a risk to the millions of pilgrims who visit the site every year.

Israeli authorities briefly closed it in 2015 over security fears.

Following a US$3.7 million (S$5.1 million) renovation led by the church’s three main Christian denominations, the tomb has been painstakingly restored to its former glory – including a warm reddish-yellow colouring.

“Before this the monument was black,” chief renovator Antonia Moropoulou told AFP at the site. “This is the actual colour of the monument, the colour of hope.”

Unlike other parts of the church, which were renovated between the 1960s and 1990s, the edicule had been neglected.

Mr Moropoulou explained that they had systematically dismantled, cleaned and renovated almost all of the edicule, including the columns and upper and inner domes.

A window has been installed to allow pilgrims to see the bare stone of the ancient burial cave for the first time. The new structural integrity means a protective cage installed 70 years ago by the British is no longer necessary.

“The deformations of the holy edicule are addressed and the structural integrity is assured,” Mr Moropoulou said.

Mr Samuel Aghoyan, the superior of the Armenian Church at the Sepulchre which co-financed the project, said that after the renovation the edicule looked “like a brand new building”.

DRAMATIC MOMENT

In October, perhaps the most dramatic moment in the renovation occurred when the cave thought to be the tomb of Jesus was opened for the first time in centuries.

Marble slabs were removed to allow for the chamber’s reinforcement. They found a top slab dating from the era of the Crusades, indicating that the tomb had not been opened for 700 years, Mr Moropoulou said.

Underneath they found another from the era of Constantine the Great, the emperor who began the Roman empire’s transition to Christianity in the fourth century AD.

“When we opened the slabs we discovered within the internal masonry all the layers of history – from Constantinian to Byzantine, to Crusaders to Renaissance,” Mr Moropoulou said.

Whether the site is indeed the place of Jesus’s burial has long been a matter of dispute.

Some Christians believe he was buried in the Garden Tomb, outside the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City, but Mr Moropoulou said their findings supported the Sepulchre as the location.

Asked if the slabs supported the argument that Jesus was buried there, she said it was “not a matter of an argument”.

“It is a matter of revealing a tomb which is alive and which is influencing us working here and all the world.”

The work is not the end of plans to renovate the church.

Mr Aghoyan said they have “tentative” plans to fix the basement of the edicule as well as the “entire floor of the church”.

Such work would require around US$6 million, according to estimates.

The Greek Orthodox, Armenian and Roman Catholic denominations share custody of the church, but disputes between the three have led to renovations being delayed for decades.

Mr Aghoyan admitted there were tensions between the churches at times. “We are not in love with each but we love each other,” he said with a smile.

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Israel president Reuven Rivlin refuses to pardon jailed former PM Ehud Olmert

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Israeli President Reuven Rivlin today rejected a request for clemency by jailed ex-prime minister Ehud Olmert, who is serving a 27-month prison sentence for corruption, his office said. Olmert, who was premier between 2006-2009, was convicted of graft and entered prison in February 2016.

The president noted that the grounds for the request — including Olmert’s contributions to Israel over the years — were known to the court when it sentenced the former prime minister. Rivlin also said in a statement that Olmert was due to face a parole committee, which would discuss his request to have his sentence shortened by a third.

If the parole board shortens Olmert’s sentence, Rivlin said he could consider a pardon that would allow the 71-year-old to avoid being considered a convict after he is released. Olmert is Israel’s first former premier to serve jail time. He resigned as prime minister in September 2008 after police recommended he be indicted for graft, but remained in office until March 2009, when Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu was sworn in to the post, which he has held ever since.

Olmert won international acclaim for relaunching peace efforts with the Palestinians at the Annapolis conference in the United States in 2007, but they failed to bear fruit and the corruption charges against him have come to define his legacy.

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Jewish youth arrested in Israel over anti-Semitic threats abroad AFP

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A Jewish youth was arrested in Israel on Thursday on suspicion of making dozens of anti-Semitic threats in countries around the world, police said.

Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said the suspect was “a resident of the south (of Israel) from the Jewish community”.

Police said the suspect was 19, but gave no further identifying details. Israeli media said he was a dual Israeli-US national.

“The investigation began in several countries at the same time, in which dozens of threatening calls were received at public places, events, synagogues and community buildings that caused panic and disrupted events and activities in various organisations,” a police statement said.

It said that the investigation was undertaken in cooperation with the FBI “as well as other police organisations from various countries.”

Israeli authorities did not directly link the arrest with a wave of more than 100 bomb threats against US Jewish organisations since the beginning of the year.

“We hope that this investigation will help shed light on some of the recent threats against Jewish institutions, which have caused great concern both among Jewish communities and the Israeli government,” Israeli public security minister Gilad Erdan said in a statement. AFP

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Jews, Israelis fear fallout from bomb hoax arrest

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Israel’s arrest of a Jewish teenager accused of masterminding dozens of anti-Semitic threats could encourage racism and ease pressure on US President Donald Trump to tackle anti-Semitism, Jewish groups have warned.

Far-right groups claimed vindication that attacks previously blamed on rightwingers and alleged hatred resulting from Trump’s election may actually have been carried out by a young Jewish American Israeli.

Jewish organisations and Israeli media said the arrest was likely to boost conspiracy theories, while others worried it would weaken responses to a rise in anti-Semitic attacks in the US.

More details emerged Friday about the suspect, who holds dual Israeli American citizenship, though identifying details are subject to a gag order.

He was arrested Thursday in Israel and accused of making dozens of anti-Semitic bomb threats in the United States and elsewhere, including one against a major airline.

His lawyer said he is 18 and suffers a brain tumour that may cloud his judgement.

His health prevented him attending public school or doing mandatory military service, she said.

Over the past two to three years, Israeli police said he carried out a series of hoax threats from his family home in southern Israel.

In February 2015, he is alleged to have made a bomb threat against Delta Airlines, forcing a plane to carry out an emergency landing.

“In a short time, a large number of Jews are going to be slaughtered. Their heads are going to be blown off,” one of the threats read, according to a recording obtained by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Israel’s Haaretz newspaper said Friday the net started to tighten after a threat in New Zealand in 2016, with police identifying the IP address as originating from Israel.

Using an antenna, the suspect allegedly accessed other people’s computers to commit the crimes, the newspaper said, leading police to question a number of innocent suspects before eventually netting him.

His alleged motive remains unknown.

His father has also been arrested, with their next court hearing set for March 30.

- Jewish threats -

The discussion Friday turned to the impact of the arrests, with Trump’s response to anti-Semitism at the forefront.

More than 150 threats have been carried out against Jewish institutions in America since the start of the year. At some locations swastikas were scrawled on walls and cemeteries desecrated.

It is not known what percentage of the threats the teenager is alleged to have been involved with.

Trump received significant criticism from Jewish Americans for his perceived slow response to the uptick.

He even suggested some of the threats might be false to discredit his movement.

He later explicitly condemned anti-Semitic threats.

Trump-supporting far-right websites hailed the arrest in Israel as well as a hoax case in the United States, where the FBI in early March arrested a former journalist suspected of making bomb threats to Jewish community centres and institutions.

He was allegedly cyberstalking an ex-girlfriend, using her name to make the threats.

The Daily Stormer, a prominent anti-Semitic website that had long alleged such threats were a Jewish plot, has claimed vindication.

Alt-right website Breitbart News, formerly run by Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon, also saw vindication, but for Trump.

“When the president suggested that some of the anti-Semitic hate crimes could be hoaxes, the (leftwing) Huffington Post claimed he was echoing ‘white nationalists and far-right conspiracy theorists,’” it wrote.

“However, the arrests thus far suggest that most of the threats were indeed hoaxes.”

“The US Jewish leadership owes @POTUS an apology,” Marc Zell, vice-president of Republicans Overseas, tweeted.

US Jewish organisations have tried to downplay the political fallout, saying the arrest did not end legitimate fears.

“No arrests have been made in three cemetery desecrations or a series of other anti-Semitic incidents involving swastika graffiti and hate fliers,” the Anti-Defamation League’s CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement.

But Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice president of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organisations, told The Jerusalem Post the arrest in Israel posed a risk “that people won’t take the ongoing concerns seriously”.

In the Jewish state, newspapers and officials were shocked by the arrest.

“The outcome of this young man?s actions is that the classic anti-Semitic conspiracy theory will be given a tailwind — the Jews portray themselves as victims but are orchestrating the supposed attacks,” an article in Israel’s Yediot Aharonot newspaper said.

A representative of a major global Jewish organisation, who did not want to be named, told AFP that Trump’s false flag claim would gain traction.

“Those sort of statements that everyone thought were totally outlandish at the time now sound somewhat more reasonable.” AFP

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Palestinian Woman Attempts Car-Ramming Terror Attack at Israeli Bus Stop

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A female Palestinian attempted to ram a car into security forces at a tense junction in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday and was shot and wounded, Israel’s military said.

No injuries were reported on the Israeli side following the incident at the Gush Etzion Junction south of Jerusalem. The Palestinian’s condition was not yet clear, nor were details on her identity or age.

A wave of violence that broke out in October 2015 has killed 255 Palestinians, 40 Israelis, two Americans, one Jordanian, an Eritrean and a Sudanese national, according to an AFP count.

Most of the Palestinians who lost their lives were carrying out knife, gun or car-ramming attacks, according to the Israeli authorities.

Others were killed during protests, in clashes or Israeli air raids on Gaza.

Violence has greatly subsided in recent months, despite sporadic attacks. afp

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Israel OKs more settler homes ahead of Trump talks

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Israel approved hundreds of new settler homes in east Jerusalem Sunday, hours before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was to speak to US President Donald Trump for the first time since his inauguration.

But a potentially explosive plan to annex a large West Bank Jewish settlement near Jerusalem unilaterally was shelved until after Netanyahu and Trump meet face-to-face.

“This evening there will be a telephone conversation between President Trump and myself,” Netanyahu told a cabinet meeting on Sunday.

“There are many issues between us, including the Israeli-Palestinian issue, the situation in Syria and the Iranian threat.”

The White House confirmed that such a call was scheduled, but did not give further details.

Trump has pledged strong support for Israel and vowed during his campaign to recognise Jerusalem as the country’s capital despite the city’s contested status.

Israeli right-wing politicians have welcomed his election, with hardliners who oppose a Palestinian state hoping it will allow them to move forward with their long-held goal of annexing most of the West Bank.

The United States is Israel’s most important ally, providing it with more than $3 billion per year in defence aid, but former president Barack Obama grew frustrated with Israeli settlement building.

He declined to veto a December 23 UN Security Council resolution condemning settlements. Trump had called for the resolution to be vetoed.

- ‘We can finally build’ -

In an initial move following Trump’s inauguration, Israeli officials on Sunday approved building permits for 566 settler homes in annexed east Jerusalem.

“The rules of the game have changed with Donald Trump’s arrival as president,” Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Meir Turjeman told AFP.

“We no longer have our hands tied as in the time of Barack Obama. Now we can finally build.”

The Palestinian presidency condemned the move, calling it a violation of the UN resolution.

A draft bill to annex the Maale Adumim settlement in the occupied West Bank had been on the agenda for approval by a ministerial committee legislation on Sunday.

Such a move could badly damage prospects for a two-state solution.

But the inner circle of senior ministers known as the security cabinet blocked it for the time being, a member said.

“What was decided was to wait for the meeting which will certainly take place within a few weeks,” Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz told Israeli public radio.

“Then we shall have another (ministerial) debate on the matter,” he said.

Annexing Maale Adumim unilaterally would set off alarm bells globally, with many warning that it would be another step towards dividing the occupied West Bank between north and south, making a contiguous Palestinian state difficult to achieve.

But for some Israeli ministers who oppose a Palestinian state, that is precisely the point.

“We have to tell the American administration what we want and not wait for orders from the administration,” Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked told Israel’s army radio.

- ‘Block east Jerusalem’ -

Maale Adumim, in a strategic location east of Jerusalem, has some 37,000 residents.

Some peace proposals have envisioned it becoming part of Israel in land swaps agreed with the Palestinians, but not unilaterally.

It was unclear whether the annexation proposal would apply to another key area called E1, located between the settlement and east Jerusalem.

The Palestinians see east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, while Israel views the entire city as its capital.

Settlements watchdog Ir Amim said “the annexation of Maale Adumim and E1 will block east Jerusalem on its eastern side, swallow up its last development reserves and deepen the detachment from the West Bank.

“Given Maale Adumim’s critical location in the heart of the West Bank, the international community has for years been following with special concern all developments in this area, seen as a touchstone for the viability of a two-state solution.”

Israel occupied the West Bank and east Jerusalem in 1967, and later annexed east Jerusalem in a move never recognised by the international community.

Settlements in both the West Bank and east Jerusalem are viewed as illegal under international law.

Some 400,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank, with another 200,000 in east Jerusalem. In comparison, around 2.9 million Palestinians live in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. afp

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