- Palestinian Christians in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, burned pictures of President Donald Trump on Tuesday to protest his anticipated recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital
- A small group of Palestinians in the holy city on the West Bank gathered with placards featuring Trump's likeness and set fire to them
- Trump forged ahead Tuesday with plans to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital despite Arab, Muslim and European opposition to a move that would upend decades of US policy and risk potentially violent protests
- Trump also told the leaders of the Palestinian Authority and Jordan in phone calls that he intends to move the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem
Published: 03:41 EST, 5 December 2017 | Updated: 05:56 EST, 6 December 2017
A small group of Palestinians in the holy city on the West Bank gathered with placards featuring Trump's likeness and set fire to them.
'Move the embassy to your country, not ours,' read one of the placards with Trump's picture on it.
'Jerusalem, Palestine's heart, is not up to negotiations, read another anti-Trump sign.
Trump forged ahead Tuesday with plans to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital despite intense Arab, Muslim and European opposition to a move that would upend decades of US policy and risk potentially violent protests.
Trump also told the leaders of the Palestinian Authority and Jordan in phone calls that he intends to move the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
It remains unclear, however, when he might take that physical step, which is required by US law but has been waived on national security grounds for more than two decades.
Palestinian Christians in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, burned pictures of President Donald Trump on Tuesday to protest his anticipated recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital
A small group of Palestinians in the holy city on the West Bank gathered with placards featuring Trump's likeness and set fire to them
'Move the embassy to your country, not ours,' read one of the placards with Trump's picture on it
'Jerusalem, Palestine's heart, is not up to negotiations, read another anti-Trump sign
Trump is to publicly address the question of Jerusalem on Wednesday. US officials familiar with his planning said he would declare Jerusalem as Israel's capital, a rhetorical volley that could have its own dangerous consequences.
The United States has never endorsed the Jewish state's claim of sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem and has insisted its status be resolved through Israeli-Palestinian negotiation.
Today, a senior Palestinian official said Trump's expected recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital means that 'the peace process is finished' because Washington 'has already pre-empted the outcome.'
The mere consideration of Trump changing the status quo sparked a renewed US security warning on Tuesday.
America's consulate in Jerusalem ordered US personnel and their families to avoid visiting Jerusalem's Old City or the West Bank, and urged American citizens in general to avoid places with increased police or military presence.
Trump, as a presidential candidate, repeatedly promised to move the US embassy.
However, US leaders have routinely and unceremoniously delayed such a move since President Bill Clinton signed a law in 1995 stipulating that the United States must relocate its diplomatic presence to Jerusalem unless the commander in chief issues a waiver on national security grounds.
Trump is likely to do the same, US officials said, though less quietly.
That's why he plans to couple the waiver with the declaration of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, according to the officials who weren't authorized to speak publicly on the matter and demanded anonymity.
Key national security advisers including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis have urged caution, according to the officials, who said Trump has been receptive to some of their concerns.
Trump (seen above with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem on May 23) forged ahead Tuesday with plans to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital despite intense Arab, Muslim and European opposition to a move that would upend decades of US policy and risk potentially violent protests
Trump also told the leaders of the Palestinian Authority and Jordan that he intends to move the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Jerusalem is home to sites considered sacred by Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. The Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound are seen above on Tuesday
An elderly Palestinian man walks past a street sign indicating the distance to Jerusalem on December 5, 2017, in Hebron in the Israeli-occupied West Bank
The concerns are real: Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital could be viewed as America discarding its longstanding neutrality and siding with Israel at a time that the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has been trying to midwife a new peace process into existence.
Trump, too, has spoken of his desire for a 'deal of the century' that would end Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
US officials, along with an outside adviser to the administration, said they expected a broad statement from Trump about Jerusalem's status as the 'capital of Israel.'
The president isn't planning to use the phrase 'undivided capital,' according to the officials.
Such terminology is favored by Israeli officials including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and would imply Israel's sovereignty over east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians seek for their own future capital.
Jerusalem includes the holiest ground in Judaism.
But it's also home to Islam's third-holiest shrine and major Christian sites, and forms the combustible center of the Israeli-Arab conflict.
Any perceived harm to Muslim claims to the city has triggered volatile protests in the past, both in the Holy Land and across the Muslim world.
Within the Trump administration, officials on Tuesday were still debating the particulars of the president's expected speech as they fielded a flood of warnings from allied governments.
The Jerusalem declaration notwithstanding, one official said Trump would insist that issues of sovereignty and borders must be negotiated by Israel and the Palestinians.
The official said Trump would call for Jordan to maintain its role as the legal guardian of Jerusalem's Muslim holy places, and reflect Israel and Palestinian wishes for a two-state peace solution.
Within the Trump administration, officials on Tuesday were still debating the particulars of the president's expected speech as they fielded a flood of warnings from allied governments. The US Embassy is seen above in Tel Aviv on Tuesday
Still, any US declaration on Jerusalem's status ahead of a peace deal 'would harm peace negotiation process and escalate tension in the region,' Saudi Arabia's King Salman told Trump Tuesday, according to a Saudi readout of their telephone conversation.
Declaring Jerusalem as Israel's capital, the king said, 'would constitute a flagrant provocation to all Muslims, all over the world.'
In his calls to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan's King Abdullah II, Trump delivered what appeared to be identical messages of intent.
Both leaders warned Trump that moving the embassy would threaten Mideast peace efforts and security and stability in the Middle East and the world, according to statements from their offices.
The statements didn't speak to Trump's plans for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
Ahmed Aboul-Gheit, the head of the Arab League, urged the US to reconsider any recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, warning of 'repercussions.'
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told his Parliament such recognition was a 'red line' and that Turkey could respond by cutting diplomatic ties with Israel.
French President Emmanuel Macron said he reminded Trump in a phone call Monday that Jerusalem should be determined through negotiations on setting up an independent Palestine alongside Israel.
Meeting US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Brussels, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said actions undermining peace efforts 'must be absolutely avoided.'
Despite Trump's comments to world leaders, US officials said an embassy announcement wasn't seen as imminent.
Instead, they said Trump on Wednesday would likely sign a waiver pushing off any announcement of moving the embassy to Jerusalem for another six months.
Trump also will give wide latitude to his ambassador in Israel, David Friedman, to make a determination on when a Jerusalem embassy would be appropriate, according to the officials.
A T-shirt bearing an image of US President Donald Trump dressed as a Hasidic Jew is displayed in a souvenir shop in Jerusalem's Old City on Monday
Friedman has spoken in favor of the move.
Majdi Khaldi, Abbas' diplomatic adviser, said Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital could end Washington's role as mediator.
'This would mean they decided, on their own, to distance themselves from efforts to make peace,' Khaldi told The Associated Press in perhaps the most sharply worded reaction by a Palestinian official.
He said such recognition would lead the Palestinians to eliminate contacts with the United States.
Changing Jerusalem's status would be 'a stab in the back,' Husam Zomlot, the Palestinians' chief delegate to Washington, told the AP.
Palestinian political factions led by Abbas' Fatah movement called for daily protest marches this week, starting Wednesday.
East Jerusalem, now home to more than 300,000 Palestinians, was captured by Israel in 1967 and then annexed in a move most of the international community has not recognized.
Australia: Scott Morrison saga casts scrutiny on Queen’s representative
In the past fortnight, Australia has been gripped by revelations that former Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison secretly appointed himself to several additional ministries.
The move has been labelled a “power grab” by his successor as prime minister, and Mr Morrison has been scolded by many – even his own colleagues.
But the scandal has also dragged Australia’s governor-general into the fray – sparking one of the biggest controversies involving the Queen’s representative in Australia in 50 years.
So does Governor-General David Hurley have questions to answer, or is he just collateral damage?
Governors-general have fulfilled the practical duties as Australia’s head of state since the country’s 1901 federation.
Candidates for the role were initially chosen by the monarch but are now recommended by the Australian government.
The job is largely ceremonial – a governor-general in almost every circumstance must act on the advice of the government of the day. But conventions allow them the right to “encourage” and “warn” politicians.
Key duties include signing bills into law, issuing writs for elections, and swearing in ministers.
Mr Hurley has run into trouble on the latter. At Mr Morrison’s request, he swore the prime minister in as joint minister for health in March 2020, in case the existing minister became incapacitated by Covid.
Over the next 14 months, he also signed off Mr Morrison as an additional minister in the finance, treasury, home affairs and resources portfolios.
Mr Morrison already had ministerial powers, so Mr Hurley was basically just giving him authority over extra departments.
It’s a request the governor-general “would not have any kind of power to override or reject”, constitutional law professor Anne Twomey tells the BBC.
“This wasn’t even a meeting between the prime minister and the governor-general, it was just paperwork.”
But Mr Morrison’s appointments were not publicly announced, disclosed to the parliament, or even communicated to most of the ministers he was job-sharing with.
Australia’s solicitor-general found Mr Morrison’s actions were not illegal but had “fundamentally undermined” responsible government.
But the governor-general had done the right thing, the solicitor-general said in his advice this week.
It would have been “a clear breach” for him to refuse the prime minister, regardless of whether he knew the appointments would be kept secret, Stephen Donaghue said.
Critics push for investigation
Ultimately, Mr Hurley had to sign off on Mr Morrison’s requests, but critics say he could have counselled him against it and he could have publicised it himself.
But representatives for the governor-general say these types of appointments – giving ministers the right to administer other departments – are not unusual.
And it falls to the government of the day to decide if they should be announced to the public. They often opt not to.
Mr Hurley himself announcing the appointments would be unprecedented. He had “no reason to believe that appointments would not be communicated”, his spokesperson said.
Emeritus professor Jenny Hocking finds the suggestion Mr Hurley didn’t know the ministries had been kept secret “ridiculous”.
“The last of these bizarre, duplicated ministry appointments… were made more than a year after the first, so clearly by then the governor-general did know that they weren’t being made public,” she says.
“I don’t agree for a moment that the governor-general has a lot of things on his plate and might not have noticed.”
The historian says it’s one of the biggest controversies surrounding a governor-general since John Kerr caused a constitutional crisis by sacking Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in 1975.
Prof Hocking famously fought for transparency around that matter – waging a lengthy and costly legal battle that culminated in the release of Mr Kerr’s correspondence with the Queen.
And she says the same transparency is needed here.
The Australian public need to know whether Mr Hurley counselled the prime minister against the moves, and why he didn’t disclose them
The government has already announced an inquiry into Mr Morrison’s actions, but she wants it to look at the governor-general and his office too.
“If the inquiry is to find out what happened in order to fix what happened, it would be extremely problematic to leave out a key part of that equation.”
Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull – Mr Morrison’s predecessor – has also voiced support for an inquiry.
“Something has gone seriously wrong at Government House,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
“It is the passive compliance along the chain… that did undermine our constitution and our democracy… that troubles me the most. This is how tyranny gets under way.”
PM defends governor-general
Prof Twomey says the criticism of Mr Hurley is unfair – there’s was no “conspiracy” on his part to keep things secret.
“I don’t think it’s reasonable for anyone to expect that he could have guessed that the prime minister was keeping things secret from his own ministers, for example.
“Nobody really thought that was a possibility until about two weeks ago.”
Even if he had taken the unprecedented step to publicise the appointments or to reject Mr Morrison’s request, he’d have been criticised, she says.
“There’d be even more people saying ‘how outrageous!'” she says. “The role of governor-general is awkward because people are going to attack you either way.”
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has also defended Mr Hurley, saying he was just doing his job.
“I have no intention of undertaking any criticism of [him].”
A role fit for purpose?
Prof Hocking says it’s a timely moment to look at the role of the governor-general more broadly.
She points out it’s possible the Queen may have been informed about Mr Morrison’s extra ministries when Australia’s parliament and people were not.
“It does raise questions about whether this is fit for purpose, as we have for decades been a fully independent nation, but we still have… ‘the relics of colonialism’ alive and well.”
Momentum for a fresh referendum on an Australian republic has been growing and advocates have seized on the controversy.
“The idea that the Queen and her representative can be relied upon to uphold our system of government has been debunked once and for all,” the Australian Republic Movement’s Sandy Biar says.
“It’s time we had an Australian head of state, chosen by Australians and accountable to them to safeguard and uphold Australia’s constitution.”
But Prof Twomey says republicans are “clutching at straws” – under their proposals, the head of state would also have been bound to follow the prime minister’s advice.
“It wouldn’t result in any changes that would have made one iota of difference.”
Australia election: PM Morrison’s security team in car crash in Tasmania
A car carrying the Australian prime minister’s security team has crashed in Tasmania during an election campaign visit.
Four police officers were taken to hospital with “non-life threatening injuries” after the car and another vehicle collided, authorities said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison was not in the car, but the accident prompted him to cancel the rest of his campaign events on Thursday.
The other driver involved was not hurt.
Tasmania Police said initial investigations suggested the second car had “collided with the rear of the police vehicle, while attempting to merge”. It caused the unmarked security vehicle to roll off the road.
The two Tasmania Police officers and two Australian Federal Police officers were conscious when taken to hospital for medical assessment, the prime minister’s office said.
“Family members of the officers have been contacted and are being kept informed of their condition,” a statement said.
“The PM is always extremely grateful for the protection provided by his security team and extends his best wishes for their recovery and to their families.”
Australians go to the polls on 21 May. Mr Morrison – prime minister since 2018 – is hoping to win his conservative coalition’s fourth term in office.
Polls suggest the opposition Labor Party, led by Anthony Albanese, is favoured to win. However, Mr Morrison defied similar polling to claim victory at the last election in 2019.
Mr Morrison’s Liberal-National coalition holds 76 seats in the House of Representatives – the minimum needed to retain power.
Political observers say the cost of living, climate change, trust in political leaders, and national security will be among key issues in the campaign.
In recent weeks, the prime minister has faced accusations of being a bully and once sabotaging a rival’s career by suggesting the man’s Lebanese heritage made him less electable. Mr Morrison has denied the allegations.
Mr Albanese stumbled into his own controversy this week when he failed to recall the nation’s unemployment or interest rates.
Sydney airport warns delays could last weeks on third day of travel chaos
Long queues at Sydney airport’s domestic terminals have continued for a third day, with some passengers missing international connections, as the airport warns delays resulting from a surge in travellers and a shortfall in security staff could continue for weeks.
Chaotic scenes were reported in the departure halls as early as 4.30am on Saturday, with some frustrated travellers, many of whom heeded the pleas of airport chiefs to arrive at least two hours before their domestic flight was due to take off, claiming only one security line was operating.
While the queues that formed early on Saturday are understood to have cleared later in the morning, the airport apologised to affected travellers.
“Traffic numbers are picking up and the close contact rules are making it hard to fill shifts and staff the airport. We appreciate your patience,” Sydney airport said on its Twitter account.
A wave of families travelling as the term two school holidays begin this weekend, combined with close contact rules that are understood to be taking out about 20% of security shifts in any given day, are driving the problem.
Certis, the company that Sydney airport contracts for its security operations, is desperately trying to recruit personnel, while the airport has reallocated back office, IT and retail workers to the departure hall to comb queues so they can prioritise passengers at risk of missing their flight.
“We are working around the clock to resolve these issues and have teams in the terminals bringing passengers forward in order of priority,” a Sydney airport spokesperson said.
He added that the airport is “anticipating it will [be] busy right through the school holiday period and peak over the Easter and Anzac Day weekends, in some cases at 90% of pre-Covid passenger levels”.
“We’re deeply grateful to passengers for their ongoing patience and we’re sorry to everyone who has been inconvenienced,” the spokesperson said. “We would also like to thank passengers for getting to the airport early and treating staff and each other with kindness and respect.”
The Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce was forced to clarify comments he made on Friday that passengers were “not match fit” and that those forgetting to remove laptops and aerosols from their bags at the security check contributing to the delays.
“Just to be clear, I’m not ‘blaming’ passengers,” Joyce said. “Of course it’s not their fault,” he said.
Qantas shed thousands of staff during the pandemic, and outsourced ground crews in a decision that was challenged in court.
On Saturday, Qantas also apologised to a Melbourne family left stranded in Sydney, after domestic flight delays caused them to miss an international trip.
Javiera Martinez, her partner Daniel Capurro and their three children were supposed to be flying to Chile on Friday to visit relatives they had not seen in three years.
But after their 8am Qantas flight from Melbourne was delayed by half an hour, baggage handling and airport transfer delays in Sydney meant they couldn’t make their 11.30am LATAM Airlines flight to Santiago.
Martinez said the airline’s procedures at the airport were chaotic.
“We think Qantas didn’t behave appropriately. I got berated by the person at the counter – they never apologised, they never assumed any responsibility at all,” she said. “It was a rude conversation. We have been mistreated badly I would say.”
The PCR tests they need to travel have now expired and they will have to take them again as they wait for seats on the next flight to Santiago from Sunday.
The airline has apologised and paid for a night’s accommodation in Sydney.
“We sincerely apologise that the family missed their connecting flight on another airline due to delays moving through Sydney airport on Friday,” a Qantas spokesperson said.
The family is among many affected by hold ups amid the busiest travel period in two years, with Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane airports warning passengers to arrive two hours before domestic flights.
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