CNN Mocks Trump Press Conference With Epic Tweet (Video)

CNN got back at Donald Trump on Thursday after the cable news network was the target of repeated attacks during a bizarre press conference by creatively trolling the president on Twitter.

Turn your sound up and watch President Trump conduct an amazing symphony — er, press conference

— CNN (@CNN) February 17, 2017

The bold move by CNN’s social media team includes various hand gestures from the wild, 77-minute press conference during which Trump dubbed the network “very fake news.”

Also Read: President Trump Bashes ‘Out of Control’ Media: ‘I Inherited a Mess’

“The press has become so dishonest, that if we don’t talk about it, we are doing a tremendous disservice to the American people,” Trump said on Thursday. “The press, honestly, is out of control. The level of dishonesty is out of control.”

After a 24-minute opening statement that included statements such as, “Drugs are becoming cheaper than candy bars,” Trump took questions from reporters, who he accused to their faces of pushing “fake news.”

Trump then said he doesn’t watch CNN anymore and took credit for a recent spike in cable news ratings, but then said he watches CNN and doesn’t like the tone.

Also Read: Trump Fans Want Shepard Smith’s Head for Slamming President on Fox News

“I don’t mind bad stories. I can handle a bad story better than anybody, as long as it’s true,” Trump said. “I’m not OK when it is fake. I watch CNN and it’s so much anger and hatred.”

On Wednesday, CNN’s Jim Acosta said “the fix is in” after Trump only called on conservative news organizations during a news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

During Thursday’s press conference, Trump repeatedly pointed at Acosta and promised to eventually call on him. Once he did, the CNN reporter said, “Just for the record, we don’t hate you.”

“Ask Jeff Zucker how he got his job,” Trump said, referring to the CNN Worldwide president who used to oversee Trump’s “Apprentice” reality show.

It will be interesting to see what Trump thinks of CNN’s video.

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President Trump Bashes ‘Out of Control’ Media: ‘I Inherited a Mess’

President Trump Bashes ‘Out of Control’ Media: ‘The Press Has Become So Dishonest’

President Donald Trump selected Alexander Acosta as his choice for labor secretary during a press conference on Thursday afternoon before turning his attention to the media.

“The Press has become so dishonest, that if we don’t talk about it, we are doing a tremendous disservice to the American people,” Trump said. “The press, honestly, is out of control. The level of dishonesty is out of control.”

After a 24-minute opening statement that included quotes such as, “Drugs are becoming cheaper than candy bars,” Trump took questions from reporters, who he called “fake news” to their faces.

Also Read: Trump Names Alexander Acosta as Labor Secretary, First Hispanic Nominee in New Cabinet

Trump said both the leakers of government information and the press who prints it “should be ashamed.” The president called a recent New York Times story “a joke” and claimed it has been discredited.

Trump also mocked the Wall Street Journal, saying it is almost as disgraceful as the Times.

“I don’t mind bad stories. I can handle a bad story better than anybody, as long as its true,” Trump said. “I’m not OK when it is fake. I watch CNN and it’s so much anger and hatred.”

Trump then said he doesn’t watch CNN anymore and took credit for a recent spike in cable news ratings.

Also Read: ‘The Fix Is In’: CNN Reporter Upset President Trump Calls on Christian Broadcasting

During the combative press conference, Trump called on reporters from a variety of news organizations. Just yesterday, CNN’s Jim Acosta said “the fix is in” after Trump only called on conservative news organizations during a news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“In the last three news conferences, all of the questions to the America news media have been handled by conservative press,” Acosta said on air yesturday. “The fix it in.”

During Thursday’s press conference, Trump repeatedly pointed at Acosta and promised to eventually call on him. Once he did, the CNN reporter said, “Just for the record, we don’t hate you.”

“Ask Jeff Zucker how he got his job,” Trump said, referring to the CNN Worldwide president who used to oversee Trump’ “Apprentice” reality show.

Also Read: President Trump Rips ‘Unwatchable’ MSNBC, CNN, Praises Fox News in Twitter Outburst

Acosta and Trump then argued over CNN’s ratings, “We do have other people and your ratings aren’t as good as some who are waiting,” the president said.

Acosta eventually asked about WikiLeaks, comparing Trump getting upset over the leaking highly classified information to him encouraging leaking emails related to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

At one point, Trump openly searched for a “friendly reporter” after he was tired of answering questions about his relationship with Russia. It’s not just the Times, WSJ and CNN that Trump is angry with. When a BBC reporter tried to ask a question, Trump said, “There is another beauty.”

Trump went on to call “Fox & Friends” the “most honest morning show,” while saying the tone of CNN is “almost exclusive anti-Trump.” He even said he was going to start referring to CNN as “very fake news” and joked that he made sure Alexander Acosta wasn’t related to the CNN reporter.

Also Read: Tucker Carlson Accuses Washington Post of Running ‘Russian Propaganda’ as News (Video)

Acosta doesn’t need to worry about the president only calling on conservative news organizations after today’s combative press conference, but we doubt this will end the CNN’s reporter’s issues with the president.

Several prominent media members have chimed in on Twitter:

This not a laughing matter. I’m sorry, delegitimizing the press is unAmerican

— Chuck Todd (@chucktodd) February 16, 2017

Trump has admitted to watching about 6 hours of cable TV a day. How does he have time to ruin the country?

— Dan Pfeiffer (@danpfeiffer) February 16, 2017

.@realDonaldTrump today…

— Domenico Montanaro (@DomenicoNPR) February 16, 2017

Transcript of the last few minutes of the Trump press conference:

— Olivia Nuzzi (@Olivianuzzi) February 16, 2017

Trump is now blaming the media for Russian aggression in recent weeks

— Ben Jacobs (@Bencjacobs) February 16, 2017

I’ve never seen a presidential press conf. like this one. And I am old.

— Paul Farhi (@farhip) February 16, 2017

Trump believes — wrongly — that he was instrumental getting Jeff Zucker hired at CNN. I have thoroughly looked into this. It is untrue.

— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) February 16, 2017

Good for Trump to so boldly tackle America’s biggest crisis: cable news

— Jack Mirkinson (@jackmirkinson) February 16, 2017

The president is repeatedly mentioning “Jeff.” FYI, Jeff Zucker told reporters earlier today that he hasn’t spoken with Trump since December

— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) February 16, 2017

Trump says a question from a reporter for a Jewish publication about rising anti-Semitism is “not a fair question.”

— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) February 16, 2017

It’s utter madness. I can’t believe it’s not a parody.

— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) February 16, 2017

The photos coming across the wire from Getty are actually doing a decent job of showing how fucking insane this is

— Matt Novak (@paleofuture) February 16, 2017

“Wow. What an amazing hour-and-fifteen-minute appearance by the President of the United States.” — @wolfblitzer

— Dylan Byers (@DylanByers) February 16, 2017

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Trump Nominates Alexander Acosta as Labor Secretary, First Hispanic in New Cabinet

‘Morning Joe’ Accuses Wall Street Journal of ‘Bending Over Backwards’ for Trump (Video)

Trump Threatens ‘Low-Life Leakers’ That Spoke to ‘Failing’ NY Times: ‘They Will Be Caught’

Column: Distinctly two states in every way possible

Hebron, West Bank. Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Hebron, West Bank. Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images

We sat sipping slushy mojitos. It was the kind of night that makes you want to throw away your heels and dance without a care in the world. Swaying to the electro house music at Kuli Alma in south Tel Aviv, were the young, insatiable night owls of the city. On my way there, my Israeli friend Etay, a 21-year old ballet dancer walked me through the Ruppin street talking excitedly about his current role as Billy in the musical Billy Elliot and admiring the Bauhaus architecture that dotted the city.

My mind raced back to earlier in the day when I zipped along Highway 1, connecting Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and then crossed a checkpoint to enter West Bank. I had carefully hid my keffiyeh, the Palestinian chequered black and white scarf, under the car seat to avoid suspicion by the guards. Once the first hurdle was cleared, I drove through beautiful, mountainous, brown landscapes until I reached Nablus and the home of Bashar.

Even after 10 years of being a journalist and documentary filmmaker, I still don’t know what is the right question to ask a family member who has lost a loved one. A picture of Bashar and another one of Yasser Arafat, the former leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization, on the wall welcomed us along with a bunch of enthusiastic young men in the room. Abu Ashraf, Bashar’s brother and the only older man in his 50s in the room, turned to my camera and started talking about how he didn’t know a thing about his brother’s plans to carry out the suicide bombing attack that killed seven people in 1997 at the Ben Yehuda street. Fumbling a little and nervously turning a rosary that was the Palestinian flag colors – red, green, white and black in color, he said he understood the loss of the families who had lost their loved ones in the attack. He had a lost a brother too. No one’s loss was bigger, he added thoughtfully. They had equally suffered because of the occupation.

Soon the younger men in the room chimed in. In his late twenties, Ashraf, the son of Abu Ashraf started talking passionately about how being related to a suicide bomber had taken away almost all their liberties. “None of us even our children’s children’s children will ever be allowed into Israel. The guard at the border told us that we should try in 100 years.” So two years ago when his wife from East Jerusalem holding an Israeli ID card, was giving birth to their first born in Jerusalem, Ashraf risked his life by jumping the 438 km long wall dividing Israel and the West Bank to be by his wife’s side and welcome their son into the world.

As Benjamin Netanyahu met with President Trump, with clear warnings from his far-right minister Naftali Bennett to not mention the word ‘two states’ or ‘Palestinian state’, I wonder how the politics and the balancing act of Trump and Netanyahu–of neither sounding too right nor displeasing their right leaning supporters–will play out in the lives of the people there.

“None of us even our children’s children’s children will ever be allowed into Israel. The guard at the border told us that we should try in 100 years.”The wall does not just divide Israel from West Bank, but it was also divides free-spirited thoughts, ideas and life from a shackled existence. On one side is 21-year old Etay with his ideas of art, architecture, dance, music and on the other side is Ashraf with the fear of being arrested, for meeting his newborn son. This cannot be one state. This is distinctly two states in every way possible.

So when Rami, whose 14-year-old daughter was killed by Bashar in 1997, took a stand against the occupation and said that he is curious about the meeting of these two leaders, I knew it would resonate with the millions others who defy the politics of divisive walls and borders. “There is no point in debating the two state solution. The question is not the number of states. That is irrelevant. It was irrelevant 50 years ago. The question is about equality, respect and dignity. The state is just a technical issue”, said Rami to me, sounding very calm as we discussed U.S.- Israel over a skype call.

On the other hand, my other young Jewish friend living in Jerusalem sounds worried. “I’m not so worried by the discussion over the U.S. embassy moving to Jerusalem. Trump may or not actually do that and it may or may not impact our lives but the Muslim ban by Trump might very well affect us.” Married to a Palestinian Muslim and struggling to even rent a house in West Jerusalem, since no one wants to lease their house to an Arab man, this couple wants to move to the U.S. Though she now fears that even the U.S. will be hostile to her husband because of his religion. “We just returned from a visit to Auschwitz with our one-year old son. When I hear about the ban, it feels like history is repeating itself. What will my son learn – his mother a Jew, his father a Muslim, both with a history of persecution. Is this what we want?”

“Is this what you want?” “What does this mean to you?” – A strong, broad-shouldered man interrogated me at the Ben Gurion airport. A little startled and shaken I asked, “What Sir? What do you mean?” Pointing to the neatly folded keffiyehs in my camera tripod bag, he asked again “what does this mean to you?” I wanted to answer that to me as a non – practicing Hindu from India, living in the U.S. the keffiyeh meant nothing cultural, religious or political, but as a citizen of this world, the ability to carry a piece of cloth, just any piece of cloth, meant celebrating the freedom to choose what I want to wear, who I want to be, where I want to travel and how I want to live. It meant not being boxed in by stereotypes.” But I needed to board that flight to Washington D.C. in the next 40 minutes, so instead I said, “Sir, the keffiyeh to me is just a fashion accessory”. He smiled approving of my answer, stamped my boarding pass and I was soon on a flight back to the ‘land of the free’, as they say.

Priyali Sur is an independent journalist and documentary filmmaker. She is currently studying International Public Policy at SAIS, Johns Hopkins University. Her new film ‘sahbak’ that captures unlikely stories of love and friendship between Israelis and Palestinians releases next month. For more details log onto

The post Column: Distinctly two states in every way possible appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

What shrugging off a two-state solution could mean for Mideast peace prospects

U.S. President Donald Trump (R) greets Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after a joint news conference at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 15, 2017.   REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque  - RTSYUDS

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JUDY WOODRUFF: But now to the president’s meeting with Israel’s prime minister at the White House today, and what it means for the U.S. role in the Israeli-Palestinian relationship.

Hari Sreenivasan has that.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I’m looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like.

HARI SREENIVASAN: With that, President Trump served notice that he is not wedded to longstanding U.S. support for a two-state solution to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

He spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at his side.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I thought for a while the two-state looked like it may be the easier of the two. But, honestly, if Israel and the Palestinians are happy, I’m happy with the one they like the best.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The president urged a wider peace pact as well, involving other Middle Eastern countries.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: And it is something that is very different, hasn’t been discussed before. And it’s actually a much bigger deal, a much more important deal, in a sense.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Mr. Trump also left open the possibility of moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, despite Palestinian demands that East Jerusalem be their capital.

Netanyahu called for the U.S. and Israel to seize this moment, and he laid out his conditions for peace.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, Israeli Prime Minister: First, the Palestinians must recognize the Jewish state. They have to stop calling for Israel’s destruction. Second, in any peace agreement, Israel must retain the overriding security control of the entire area west of the Jordan River.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The Palestinians vehemently oppose that second element. They also flatly reject Israel’s ramped-up construction in Jewish settlements in the West Bank. That point elicited this exchange today.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I’d like to see you hold back on settlements for a little bit. We’ll work something out. But I would like to see a deal be made. I think a deal will be made.

So let’s see what we do.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Doesn’t sound too optimistic, but he’s a good negotiator.


HARI SREENIVASAN: Netanyahu later added:

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: I believe that the issue of the settlements is not the core of the conflict, nor does it really drive the conflict. I think it’s an issue that has to be resolved in the context of peace negotiations, and we also are going to speak about it.

HARI SREENIVASAN: As the two leaders talked at the White House, Palestinian officials say President Mahmoud Abbas met secretly Tuesday night with CIA Chief Mike Pompeo in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Joining me to delve further into the news out of today’s White House news conference, and where the Israeli-Palestinian issue stands at the beginning of the Trump administration, are Shibley Telhami. He’s the Anwar Sadat professor for peace and development at the University of Maryland. And Tamara Cofman Wittes, she’s a senior fellow in the Middle East Policy Center at the Brookings Institution, and she served as deputy assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs in the Obama administration from November of 2009 to January 2012.

Shibley, I want to start with you.

What did both of these leaders get out of this, before they even begin to having conversations?

SHIBLEY TELHAMI, Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development, University of Maryland: First, domestically.

Mr. Netanyahu is obviously looking back home. He is in trouble in an investigation on corruption. He is being pressured from the ultra-right. So, he wants to show, at a time when Israelis are uncertain about where the president is going to, where President Trump is going to go, he wants to show that he can make a deal with the president, that he can have a working relationship with him, that he can deliver. It helps him at home.

With Mr. Trump, Mr. Netanyahu is very popular in the Republican Party. In my polls actually, he’s up there with Ronald Reagan as one of the most popular leaders in the world, and especially among the evangelical right.

So, just by virtue of looking like they’re cordial in the photo-op, they both score points at home. Obviously, they also score points on some issues that we knew they would score points on, for example, the stated American support for Israeli security, the fight on terrorism, the Iran issue.

Those are issues where there isn’t much difference, at least rhetorically. And those obviously are the ones that register. But, then, of course, we turn to the more central question where there will be inevitably some disagreements, the Israel and Palestinian question.


HARI SREENIVASAN: Yes. That’s right.

Tamara Wittes, I want to get to you with that, the one-state, two-state statement by the president today. The U.S. has always been committed to a peaceful resolution to this, but why is the president’s announcement today so important?

TAMARA COFMAN WITTES, Brookings Institution: Well, look, I think it’s always been the American position, enunciated previously by the U.S. presidents, that we can’t want peace more than the parties themselves, and that the parties have to agree to a solution of their conflict, and we will support them in doing that.

What’s changed here is that, for a long time, under President George W. Bush, and then under President Obama, the U.S. has agreed with both parties that a two-state solution, that is, independent, sovereign states for Israel and for Palestine, is the only stable, lasting solution for peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Today, Donald Trump suggested that there might be some other outcome that could deliver a lasting peace. And that does throw into question the objective of any negotiations.

SHIBLEY TELHAMI: If I may add on this one, just in terms of what is missing here, what is missing is, when the statement is, it’s up to the parties to negotiate, with no reference to international law or previous agreements or some framework, you’re leaving it up to the Israelis and Palestinians, a very unequal relationship.

They’re not going to be able to do this on their own, without reference to what has been agreed or some ground rule. That’s number one.

Number two, the president throws in there the one state. He only gives two alternatives, two states, one state. Well, if you have one state, it can be only one of two days ways, not a Jewish state, democratic states for Arabs and Jews, but not a Jewish state, or an apartheid state.

By the way, if Obama had put that proposal on the table just like Trump stated it, he would have been attacked from all over the place from the right by suggesting the one-state solution could be on the table.

So, this one is really interesting, because you have got some agreements both on the left and right about the impossibility of a two-state, but what they want is something completely different.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Shibley Telhami, just staying with you for a second, is a one-state solution a nonstarter for the Palestinians?

SHIBLEY TELHAMI: No, it’s not a nonstarter, even though, I think, for many of them, obviously, they don’t think it as realistic. When you ask them, do you think it’s going to happen, most say no.

But if they think they can — if they can have a full, equal relationship with Israel, well, of course they would, because, ultimately, that will be a majority. That’s not a nonstarter. But it’s a nonstarter if they’re not going to have equal relations.

But it is a nonstarter for the Israelis, undoubtedly.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Tamara Wittes, both men said that the goal might be more achievable if more regional partners got involved. What are the possible repercussions if there are more people at the table?

TAMARA COFMAN WITTES: Well, look, I think this is an idea that has actually been tossed around for a while. It’s something that President Bush and Secretary Condoleezza Rice tried to do at their Annapolis conference, bring together the region as a whole, partly to compensate for Palestinian weakness, and to put more on the table that’s attractive to Israel, in terms of regional security and stability and regional cooperation.

So, in principle, expanding the pie actually does give you more options for resolving the conflict. In practice, however, the Arab states have made clear over and over again that they are not going to get in front of the Palestinians in solving this conflict. They are going to go where the Palestinians are willing to go, and not beyond.

I still don’t see any reason to think that that has changed. And so I think this sort of outside-in approach will last only as long as the Arab governments think that the Palestinians want it to last.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Shibley Telhami, is there — Prime Minister Netanyahu started saying today that basically there are lots of things that he has in common with Arab states, say, for example, their fear of a more powerful Iran.

Would all of these Arab states, in that shared fear or concern with Israel, would they put the Palestinian state on the back-burner?

SHIBLEY TELHAMI: First, he’s right that there are a lot of common interests. And that shows. And, obviously, you know, the president of Egypt, the king of Jordan, the leader of the UAE, they have some cooperative relationships strategically, whether it’s on Iran or fighting terrorism.

And, also, they all have working relations with Trump, and even with Putin, as the president of Russia. So, in some ways, you have this kind of strategic picture.

But the big elephant in the room is the Israel-Palestine question. It always has been. As Tamara said, you can put — if it weren’t for that, of course, then you can have it.

Now, what Netanyahu wants to do is to show to the Israeli public that he can build settlements and not really make the concessions that are needed on the Palestinian issue, and still make peace with the Arab states. And he wants Trump to help him.

Now, one of the — that’s the way that Arabs have interpreted historically. Well, interestingly, in the news conference today, look at the body language. Netanyahu was the one to say, this is essentially my plan that I taught Trump to advocate, instead of letting it even look like a Trump plan, because his interest is ultimately to send a message at home that he’s the one who is making Trump do it, rather than to have the Arabs have a fig leaf to come on board.

I think many of them might play with Trump. They don’t want to say no to him. They have their own self-interests to want to play. The Saudis remain a big question. But, ultimately, I think, when push comes to shove, the Palestinian issue may be just a fig leaf for something other than Israeli-Palestinian peace.

HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Shibley Telhami.



Tamara Wittes, very quickly, you want to wrap up?


Just to add, I think that what is really bringing Israel and the Arab states together right now is a common sense of threat. It’s not necessarily a common vision for the region’s future.

HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Tamara Wittes, Shibley Telhami, thank you both.


The post What shrugging off a two-state solution could mean for Mideast peace prospects appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

‘The Fix Is In’: CNN Reporter Upset President Trump Calls on Christian Broadcasting

CNN’s Jim Acosta said “the fix is in” after President Donald Trump only called on conservative news organizations during a news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

CNN reporter @Acosta after Trump calls on only right-wing outlets for the third straight press conference: “The fix is in”

— John Whitehouse (@existentialfish) February 15, 2017

And the problems weren’t limited to the Netanyahu news conference, Acosta said.

“In the last three news conferences, all of the questions to the America news media have been handled by conservative press,” Acosta said. “The fix it in.”

Also Read: President Trump Rips ‘Unwatchable’ MSNBC, CNN, Praises Fox News in Twitter Outburst

The CNN reporter wanted to ask the president about a Tuesday night report by The New York Times that members of his campaign team and their associates had repeated contact with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the presidential election.

Acosta said that the White House and Trump do “not want to answer questions about his associates, his aide’s contacts with the Russians” during the presidential campaign.

“They may think this is being cute or strategic in terms of trying to shield the president from questions, but those questions can only be shielded for so long,” Acosta said.

Over the past three news conferences, Trump has called on The New York Post, Fox Business, Sinclair Broadcasting-owned WJLA, The Daily Caller, Christian Broadcasting News and, according to Talking Points Memo.

Earlier on Wednesday, Trump expressed outrage at the media in a series of tweets, bashing CNN and MSNBC while praising Fox News’ morning show “Fox & Friends.”

Acosta and Trump have had an interesting relationship, to say the least. Last month, Acosta attempted to ask a question during Trump’s first news conference since winning the election. Trump refused and eventually pointed at the CNN reporter saying, “You’re fake news.”

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Donald Trump: Michael Flynn “Wonderful Man” Victimized By Illegal Leaks Intended To Cover Up Hillary Clinton’s Election Loss

Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn is a “wonderful man” who was “treated very, very unfairly by the…fake news,” President Donald Trump said today by way of explaining Flynn’s ouster after just 24 days on the job.
“I think it’s really a sad thing that he was treated so badly,” Trump said in another whiplash inducing day for Reporters Who Cover the White House. Just one day earlier, they’d been told by the White House that it was Trump who insisted Flynn resign…

President Trump Slams ‘Fake Media’ in Reporting on Michael Flynn, Russia Ties

President Trump, appearing at a press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, unleashed on the media’s reporting about former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and of intelligence leaks about his campaign’s contacts with Russian officials. Even though the White House has made it clear that Trump asked for Flynn’s resignation, Trump said that Flynn… Read more »

Trump urges Israeli premier to ‘hold off’ on settlements

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Wednesday asked Israel’s prime minister to “hold off” on building Jewish settlements in land the Palestinians claim for their future state, yet held back from explicitly endorsing support for a future independent Palestine.

After weeks of dancing around the issue of expanded Israeli settlements, Trump made the request to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a joint news conference at the White House preceding their private discussions. It is Netanyahu’s first trip to Washington since Trump became president.

While Trump’s call echoed that of past U.S. presidents, who’ve considered Israeli housing construction in east Jerusalem and the West Bank an obstacle to a Mideast peace deal, the American leader broke with his predecessors on the idea of a two-state agreement. While such an accord may have once appeared to be the “easier of the two” options, Trump said he’d be open to alternatives if the two sides propose something better.

The two leaders were to discuss peace efforts as well as Iran and Trump’s campaign pledge to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Relocating the embassy would signal American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a move that would infuriate Palestinians. They claim the eastern sector of the city, captured by Israel in the 1967 war, as their capital.

Trump said Wednesday he’d like to see the embassy moved but that he is studying the issue closely.

American presidents have struck a delicate balance in addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, stressing the close U.S. friendship with Israel and lavishing the Jewish state with bountiful aid. But recent presidents also have called out Israel for actions seen as undermining peace efforts, such as expanding settlements.

On Tuesday, a senior White House official said Trump is eager to begin facilitating a peace deal between the two sides and hopes to bring them together soon.

It will be up to the Israelis and Palestinians to determine what peace will entail, said the official, who was not authorized to publicly discuss the leaders’ session before it took place and spoke on condition of anonymity. Peace, not a two-state solution, is the goal, the official said.

State Department officials said they were not aware of any policy shift on the desirability of an agreement establishing an independent Palestine side-by-side with Israel — long the bedrock of U.S. policy in the region.

Three officials said the department was seeking clarification from the White House’s comments, which came as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was having dinner with Netanyahu on Tuesday. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

This report was written by Vivian Salama and Jill Colvin of the Associated Press. Associated Press writers Josh Lederman in Washington, Karin Laub in Ramallah, West Bank and Josef Federman in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

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Will Trump’s affinity for Israel translate into new policy?

A man cycles past signs bearing the name of U.S. President-elect Republican Donald Trump in Tel Aviv, Israel November 14, 2016. REUTERS/Baz Ratner      TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - RTX2TLPD

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JUDY WOODRUFF: Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in Washington ahead of a meeting tomorrow with President Trump.

Special correspondent Martin Seemungal has some background from Jerusalem.

MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: Jerusalem’s Old City is defined by divisions, four quarters, Armenian, Christian, Muslim, and Jewish, a legacy of conquests and occupations dating back thousands of years.

Israeli soldiers captured East Jerusalem and the Old City from Jordan in the Six-Day War of 1967. Today, Israeli soldiers still control the streets of the Old City and the thousands of Palestinians who live here. It is a tense, often volatile place.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I love Israel. I love Israel.


MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: Enter Donald Trump:

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We will move the American Embassy.

MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: Promising to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem during his campaign.

Jerusalem’s mayor, Nir Barkat, welcomes the news with open enthusiasm.

His vice mayor, Yitzhak Pindrus, says it is long overdue.

YITZHAK PINDRUS, Vice Mayor of Jerusalem: Jerusalem is the capital, capital of Israel, the capital of the Jewish nation. It was that for thousands of years. It’s not something that’s going to change. And I’m comfortable with that, and I would be very happy if the embassy will move here.

MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: No nation on Earth officially recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. To understand why, you have to go back beyond the ’67 war.

The United Nations’ 1947 partition created Jewish and Arab states, putting Jerusalem under international control. Israel captured a large part of Jerusalem in 1948, and divided Israeli West Jerusalem from a Palestinian East Jerusalem with a Green Line.

Despite declaring West Jerusalem as its capital, no country moved embassies there. This is the old Green Line that split Jerusalem in two. Israel annexed the eastern side of the city in the 1980s, illegally, according to international law. And ever since, it’s been trying to erase that sense of division. But the reality remains West Jerusalem is predominately Jewish, East Jerusalem is predominantly Muslim.

Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state. And Donald Trump’s promise to move the embassy to Jerusalem has angered Palestinians.

Hanan Ashrawi is a senior member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization.

HANAN ASHRAWI, Palestinian Liberation Organization: This is an irresponsible and dangerous move. Don’t even think about it, because you will be inflaming feelings. You will be turning this into a religious conflict. You will be starting a whole new cycle of violence. The U.S. will be seen as complicit.

MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: The Trump administration got the same message from other Arab leaders in the region, and it may have had an impact. The embassy move doesn’t seem so imminent anymore, and may have been shelved for the time being.

However, there is still a feeling here that the Trump administration favors Israel. Just before the new year, the incoming president tweeted: “We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect. Stay strong, Israel. January 20 is fast approaching”

Trump’s tweet came just after former Secretary of State John Kerry lashed out at Israel for its settlement policy, the last flash point in a tense relationship between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Obama White House.

The two leaders clashed repeatedly, the deepest division over Iran. Netanyahu was openly and harshly critical of the nuclear deal that Obama championed. Netanyahu’s right-wing government was criticized often by the Obama administration, particularly on the issue of settlement building in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

A clearly pleased Netanyahu spoke the day after Trump’s victory.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, Israeli Prime Minister: You are a great friend of Israel. Over the years, you have expressed your support consistently, and I deeply appreciate it.

MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: And within days of Trump’s inauguration, Netanyahu announced major settlement expansion plans, 3,000 units in total, the biggest in years. The White House stayed silent.

Ayelet Shaked is the justice minister and member of the right-wing Jewish Home Party that is pushing settlement building in what the government calls Judea and Samaria, the biblical term for the West Bank. She says Netanyahu’s announcements were made because Donald Trump is in the White House now.

AYELET SHAKED, Jewish Home Party: Of course it’s not a coincidence. For eight years, the Obama administration refused to any extension in Judea and Samaria. And, actually, in reality, the main cities there were frozen. So, of course we expect that, in a Trump administration, it will be different.

MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: And there are other indicators of the Trump strong pro-Israel sentiment. President Trump’s nominee for ambassador to Israel is David Friedman, reportedly a U.S. fund-raiser for a West Bank settlement, who believes Israel shouldn’t be forced into a two-state solution.

President Trump seems likely to appoint Jared Kushner, his son-in-law, viewed as extremely sympathetic to Israel, to negotiate a deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

HANAN ASHRAWI: Now you have settlers and settler supporters in the White House. And it’s unbelievable. It’s incredible.

MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: Dan Shapiro understands very well the complications of trying to broker peace between Palestinians and Israelis. He was the American ambassador here during the Obama years and knows what Kushner is about to face.

DAN SHAPIRO, Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel: Well, the first thing I would say to anybody given that assignment is, good luck. And I don’t mean that in a joking way. Obviously, anybody who’s worked on this issue knows its frustrations and pitfalls. One advantage he will certainly have is his close relationship to the president.

MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: Negotiations will be even more difficult than usual if the Palestinians feel the new U.S. administration has shifted strongly towards Israel. The early days of the Trump administration were not comforting to Palestinians.

But when Netanyahu announced another set of settlement building, the White House did react. The first part of the statement signaled a shift in past policy, often critical of Israel on the settlement building issue, saying the administration doesn’t believe the settlements are “an impediment to peace.”

But then a change in tone: “The construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful in achieving that goal.”

It was interpreted in Israel as a polite warning. It raised some concern within the Netanyahu coalition. Dan Meridor served as a Cabinet minister under Netanyahu, but left politics because of Netanyahu’s shift to the right. He says, when it comes to Trump, the government shouldn’t assume too much.

DAN MERIDOR, Former Israeli Cabinet Minister: Because he’s so unpredictable in a way, I wouldn’t bet anything on what may develop. If I were the government, I wouldn’t base any policies on any presumption Trump will go in a set way.

MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: White House statements and Trump’s recent comments do appear to indicate a change in direction from the first days of Trump’s presidency, more in line with longstanding American policy based on two states for two peoples.

The two-state solution is critical to peace, because Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas still believes it. It remains the foundation of the Palestinian dream.

Tomorrow’s White House visit by Netanyahu will be watched very closely on both sides of Jerusalem and on the West Bank for any hint of a change in the status quo, one defined for so long by division.

For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Martin Seemungal in Jerusalem.

The post Will Trump’s affinity for Israel translate into new policy? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

On a rocky ridge over Ramallah, settlers put their faith in Trump

On the eve of Netanyahu’s White House visit, an emboldened Israeli right wing sees a chance to build – and to renounce the two-state solution

The posters hanging near the municipal buildings in the Jewish settlement of Beit El – in Hebrew “the House of God” – have a simple message: “Go in peace. Come back with sovereignty.”

They are words aimed at a single individual, an instruction from the settlement movement to Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, for his visit to Washington on Wednesday to meet the US president, Donald Trump.

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Trump in apparent U-turn on Israeli settlement growth

US president quoted by Israeli press saying he does not believe advancing settlements in Palestinian territories is good for peace

Donald Trump has indicated he does not believe Israeli settlement growth in Palestinian territories is “good for peace” in what appears to be a sharp reversal of comments made by the White House only a week ago.

Sowing further confusion over his often chaotic and contradictory foreign policy pronouncements – both during the campaign for president and since his inauguration – the US president took the unusual step of making the remarks to a rightwing Israeli freesheet paper owned by the billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who donated $20m (£16m) to Trump’s campaign.

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Netanyahu wants to repress my group, Breaking the Silence. May, don’t help him | Yehuda Shaul

Israel’s friends in the UK should fight to protect funding for an organisation that bears witness to the moral price paid for the maltreatment of Palestinians

On Monday the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, met with his British counterpart, Theresa May. Among other things, he asked her to stop the UK government’s funding of the group I co-founded, Breaking the Silence, as well as other human rights organisations in Israel and Palestine. This is regardless of the fact that Breaking the Silence has not received funding from the British government since 2011.

As an Israeli, it’s not my place to tell Netanyahu to stop interfering in decisions made by the British government. That’s something British citizens can do. What I can do is shed some light on the reason Netanyahu is so intent on stopping us, an organisation of soldiers who encourage public debate on the reality of occupation and the moral price it exacts from Israelis.

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May refuses Netanyahu’s call to impose new sanctions on Iran

The prime minister of Israel called on all ‘reasonable countries’ to follow Trump’s lead after Iran carried out missile tests

Theresa May has resisted pressure to re-examine the viability of the international nuclear deal with Iran from her Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu, who urged her to follow Donald Trump’s example by imposing fresh sanctions.

May also said only a two-state solution could bring about peace in the Middle East, and her spokeswoman said the extension of illegal settlements made a solution more difficult.

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Israel passes bill retroactively legalising Jewish settlements

The bill was supported by Benjamin Netanyahu, but opponents said the law ‘makes theft an official Israeli policy’

Israel’s parliament has approved a controversial bill to retroactively “legalise” illegal Jewish outposts built on privately owned Palestinian land, setting up an inevitable confrontation with the international community.

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Netanyahu urges May to support new sanctions against Iran – video

Benjamin Netanyahu and Theresa May meet on Monday at the start of the Israeli prime minister’s visit to the UK. Netanyahu stated his wish for a tougher stance against Iran from the west, welcoming Donald Trump’s push for further sanctions against Hassan Rouhani’s country

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Brexit debate: government easily defeats 4 opposition bids to amend article 50 bill – Politics live

Rolling coverage of the day’s political developments as they happen, including Theresa May’s meeting with the Israeli PM, and the first chance for MPs to amend the article 50 bill.

12.44am GMT

Here is the Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards commenting on tonight’s final vote.

The Vote Leave campaign promised that Wales wouldn’t lose a penny if we left the European Union and tonight Westminster confirmed that this was a devious deception designed to convince people to vote for Brexit when they knew full well that it would lead to the people of Wales becoming poorer.

We deliberately made our amendment as amenable as possible to the Westminster parties – calling not for an outright guarantee, as we would have been entitled to do, but simply calling for a report outlining the impact that Brexit will have on Wales’ public finances. That Westminster refuses even to commit to producing a report shows just how desperate they are to avoid the truth being laid bare.

12.34am GMT

MPs have voted down the Plaid Cymru amendment by 330 votes to 267 – a majority of 63.

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Netanyahu’s visit comes amid tensions between UK and EU over Israel

EU leaders are concerned that Theresa May could soften UK’s opposition to settlements as she seeks closer ties with Donald Trump

Benjamin Netanyahu to push Theresa May on backing stance on Iran

A call by the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, for tougher action against Iran and in defence of his West Bank settlement programme during a visit to Downing Street on Monday is likely to highlight the growing tensions between a British foreign policy orientated to Washington and Theresa May’s need to retain good relations with the European Union before Brexit.

European leaders at their Malta summit on Friday voiced fears that Trump is content to see the break-up of the EU and are wary that May, in search of post-Brexit allies, will be tempted to side with Trump and Netanyahu either by softening UK opposition to the settlements or even by calling for the Iranian nuclear deal signed in July 2015 to be revisited.

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Benjamin Netanyahu to press Theresa May for tougher line on Iran

Israeli PM aims to use No 10 visit to firm up call for stronger international stance against Tehran before meeting with TrumpThe Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, will push his UK counterpart, Theresa May, to back his call for a tougher inter…

US: Israeli settlements no impediment to peace but may not be helpful

Statement on settlements in Palestinian territory leaves observers split over Trump administration’s intention

The Trump administration has broken with longstanding US policy by saying Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory are not “an impediment to peace” but cautioned that a further expansion “may not be helpful” to ending the conflict.

The comments came after the new US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, spoke to the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Donald Trump is due to meet Netanyahu on 15 February.

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