EU wants Jerusalem as capital for Israel and Palestine; Australia votes gay marriage

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  • The European Union’s top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, said the EU would endeavor to make Jerusalem the capital for both Israel and Palestine after U.S. President Donald Trump unilaterally recognised the holy city as the capital of the Jewish nation on December 6. The EU is Palestine’s biggest aid donor and Israel’s top trading partner. The United Nations Security Council is expected to meet on December 8 to discuss Trump’s announcement (The Guardian), which risks provoking an international diplomatic row. Earlier, the leader of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, called for a new uprising against Israel hours after Trump’s announcement (see our coverage). He ignored pleas from world leaders and broke with 70 years of American foreign policy to deliver his campaign promise, saying it would help in “the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians.” In a speech from Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas, Haniyeh said: “We should call for and we should work on launching an intifada in the face of the Zionist enemy.” Using the word “intifada” is hugely emotive in Palestine where two separate movements under that title triggered years of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces. Meanwhile, Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said Israel was extremely grateful to Trump, and that he was in contact with other countries which would follow suit.
  • The Australian House of Representatives, on Parliament’s final sitting day of the year, voted overwhelmingly to allow same-sex marriages across the nation. The country’s Senate approved the same legislation last week. Australian voters supported the legalization in a mail-in ballot which culminated in November with nearly 62 percent in favor. There were joyous scenes inside Parliament House in Canberra as MPs welcomed the decision with cheers, applause and a song, before hundreds of spectators. As amendments to the legislation were defeated (, gay rights advocates gathered outside. Australia historically had harsh laws criminalizing homosexuality, but these have progressively been repealed in the past 40 years, and the national broadcaster ABC notes here that Africa and much of Europe are now more repressive. The New York Times quoted longtime supporter of same-sex marriage and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull: “This is Australia: fair, diverse, loving and filled with respect.”
  • Reuters has obtained an exclusive draft of an European Parliament resolution, ahead of next week’s EU summit vote. Some of the key things the document outlines are: London continuing to obey the European human rights convention, that Britain automatically adopts new EU legislation passed after it loses its vote from March 2019, and that it accepts European Court of Justice verdicts — all things which UK Prime Minister Theresa May has previously said she is against. The draft also says Britain should guarantee rights for future children of EU parents living in the UK.
  • The European Commission set a deadline of December 10 for May to return to Brussels with an offer for a Brexit divorce deal. EU executive chief spokesman Margaritis Schinas said EU leaders needed time to consider an offer ahead of a Brexit summit scheduled for late next week. Negotiations stalled earlier this week after the Democratic Unionist Party halted May’s deal with the EU, by refusing to move from any scenario where Northern Ireland is treated in any way different from the rest of the United Kingdom. That party’s support at Westminster is essential to May’s minority government, as she is in a supply and confidence agreement with them.
  • Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, cited attorney-client privilege in refusing to tell U.S. lawmakers investigating Russian election meddling about conversations he had with his father concerning a 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Trump associates and Russians. Rep. Adam Schiff, in publicly discussing the closed-door House intelligence committee meeting, said the conversations in question were not privileged just because a Trump lawyer was present.
  • The online currency, Bitcoin, reached more than $15,000 on The security of NiceHash, an online currency marketplace, was breached on Wednesday. NiceHash’s users said in online forums that their balances were zero and that their money was moved to a Bitcoin wallet which showed roughly $60 million had been added today. (Full story).
  • China relaxed its coal ban policy after energy prices rose and people reported being left in the cold weather, according to The South China Morning Post. The environment ministry said regions in northern China, which have experienced delays in planned pipelines, can  burn coal for the time being. Beijing has promised to switch three million households in the 28 northern cities to gas or electricity in order to reduce air pollution.
  • The identity of the buyer who paid $450 million for a Leonardo da Vinci painting has been revealed by The New York Times. It was a Saudi prince, Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud, who is an associate of the 32-year-old heir apparent, Mohammed bin Salman. See Dan Marsh’sWikiTribune community story on the purchase of Salvator Mundi.
  • U.S. Senator Al Franken will resign after multiple allegations of sexual misconduct. Several Democratic politicians had already called for his resignation, in a list compiled by CNN. Franken said in a speech that, “Some of the allegations against me are simply not true. Others I remember very differently.”

What we’re reading

  • The Associated Press tells the story of Omar Mohammed, the man who defied ISIS by secretly chronicling their brutal occupation of his city under the pseudonym Mosul Eye. Had he been caught, he risked certain death. On November 15, he finally revealed his identity: “I can’t be anonymous anymore. This is to say that I defeated ISIS. You can see me now, and you can know me now.” – George Engels
  • What does thousands of acres of uncontrollable wildfire and hundreds of destroyed homes look like? The Guardian has a selection of striking images of California’s recent battle against blazes. From homes turned to rubble and ash to silhouettes capped with amber flames, the images of fire are overwhelming but a stunning example of photojournalism. –  Lydia Morrish

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