Israel calls for Arab boycott after violence; Kenya postpones inauguration

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  • Israel’s defense minister called on Sunday for a boycott of Arab businesses in an area where residents took part in violent protests against President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. A Palestinian also stabbed an Israeli security guard in the first attack since the announcement. (See more coverage below) Speaking in Paris, Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Jerusalem had been the capital of Israel for 3,000 years. “The sooner the Palestinians come to grips with this reality, the sooner we will move towards peace.”
  • Most Republican leaders in Alabama say they plan to vote for Roy Moore on Tuesday despite sexual misconduct allegations against the former judge. Senator Richard Shelby said his decision to cast a write-in ballot rather than vote for Moore or Democrat Doug Jones was an allegation that Moore molested a 14-year-old girl decades ago (Washington Post). Alabama news outlet, wrote in an editorial that other Republicans should follow Shelby’s lead: “We should choose wisely and carefully in exercising this privilege. Voting for Roy Moore just because he has an “R” next to his name, ignoring his record of personal and official misconduct, is neither wise nor careful.”
  • Kenya’s opposition postponed the much anticipated controversial inauguration of its chief, Raila Odinga, on Sunday evening. The move could ease political tensions and opened a window for possible talks with the government of President Uhuru Kenyatta, Reuters reported.  Opposition coalition NASA had planned to publicly “inaugurate” Odinga at a rally on Tuesday, Kenyan independence day, in what the attorney general said this week would be an act of treason. Kenyatta was re-elected as Kenya’s president with 98 percent of the vote in a repeat election held on October 26 which Odinga boycotted. Kenyan newspaper The Standard collected reactions to the news. “Some blasted the opposition leader saying that he should bow to pressure and allow President Uhuru Kenyatta to run the country for the next five years,” it reported.
  • Thousands of antigovernment protesters rallied in the center of the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, to demand the release of opposition leader Mikheil Saakashvili from custody and to call for the impeachment or resignation of President Petro Poroshenko. “The authorities have crossed a red line,” Saakashvili’s wife, Sandra Roelofs, told Radio Free Europe as marchers carried signs with antigovernment and anticorruption slogans. “You don’t put opponents in prison.” Saakashvili was president of his native Georgia for nine years until 2013 when moved to Ukraine. He then served under Poroshenko as a regional governor from 2015-2016, before falling out with the Ukrainian leader.  Saakashvili was detained in Kiev on Friday, following a dramatic episode earlier in the week (Guardian) where he climbed on a roof to avoid being arrested and was freed from a police van by his supporters. Saakashvili accuses the Ukrainian authorities of widespread corruption. Prosecutors accuse him of assisting a criminal organization, charges he says were created up to undermine his political campaign.


  • Arab officials are pushing for the United States to walk away from its decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, saying the move would lead to widespread violence throughout the region. The statement by 22 countries, including close U.S. allies, comes after a third day of violence and protests in the West Bank and Gaza Strip (See below). The Arab League resolution was backed by a number of U.S. allies, including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. The league said it would seek a U.N. Security Council resolution rejecting the U.S. move.
  • Israeli air strikes killed two Palestinian gunmen on Saturday after violence erupted in Gaza. The attacks came in response to President Donald Trump’s announcement that the United States would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Militants from Gaza had earlier fired rockets into Israel. Trump’s decision overturned decades of U.S policy in the Middle East and infuriated the Arab world, who say it is a blow to peace efforts and risks sparking more violence in the region. Israel says all of Jerusalem is its capital. Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future independent state. Read more WikiTribune coverage of the issue here.
  • Iraq says the war against Islamic State is over. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told a conference in Baghdad that Iraqi troops were now in complete control of the Iraqi-Syrian border — three years after the militant group captured about a third of Iraq’s territory. The border zone contained the last few areas IS held, following its loss of the town of Rawa in November. “Honorable Iraqis: your land has been completely liberated. The dream of liberation is now a reality,” Abadi said in a televised address.

What we’re reading

  • In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting five years ago, districts have moved to bolster security, especially at elementary schools, which traditionally have not had police assigned to them like many high schools and middle schools. This piece for the Associated Press outlines the changes that have occurred in schools. “Many have hired retired officers, firefighters and other responsible adults — an approach that’s less expensive and potentially less intrusive than assigning sworn police, but one that also has raised questions about the consistency of training and standards.”
  • Andrew Therrien wanted payback. He got it — and uncovered a conspiracy.  This piece for Bloomberg Businessweek tells the story of Therrien’s journey into a fraud known as phantom debt — where millions of Americans are hassled to pay back money they don’t owe.  After being harassed by debt collectors, Therrien took on the role of investigator. Sometimes, he would make a small payment on the fake debt, then check bank records to see where it went. He found people with convictions for counterfeiting, stock fraud, drug dealing, and child molestation. He started a spreadsheet, Scums.xlsx, to keep track.

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