Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Era Begins: Trump Pursuing Netanyahu To Attend Inauguration, ISIS Seeks To Use Chemical Attacks In Europe

Trump 'aggressively' pursuing Netanyahu to attend inauguration

US president-elect’s White House transition team has been “aggressively” pursuing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to attend the inauguration ceremony in Washington, DC later this month, the New York Post reported on Sunday.

“There’s a plan for Trump to meet with Netanyahu,” a source close to the transition team said, according to the paper.

“They’re talking all the time. And Netanyahu is talking about possibly going to the inauguration,” the source was quoted as saying.
The report said Trump staffers, led by son-in-law Jared Kushner, were “aggressively courting” the Israeli prime minister in an effort to persuade him to attend the January 20 ceremony.

Netanyahu’s tense relationship with outgoing US President Barack Obama was exacerbated in recent weeks, after the White House publicly clashed with Israel over its West Bank policy and later declined to veto a UN Security Council resolution condemning settlements.

Trump has assured Israel that things will be different after he takes office, and last week lamented that the Jewish state was “being treated very, very unfairly” by the international community.

Speaking to reporters outside his Mar-a-Lago estate on Thursday, Trump lambasted the UN for condemning Israel, saying that “horrible places, that treat people horribly, haven’t even been reprimanded” by the international body.

He refused to directly answer specific questions regarding Israeli policies, but Trump called himself “very, very strong on Israel.”

On Saturday evening, Trump told reporters Israel is “very, very important” to him.

“Look, we have to protect Israel, Israel to me is very very important, we have to protect Israel, and I disagree with what he’s done with Israel,” Trump said, referring to Obama. “I listened to Secretary Kerry’s speech, I think it’s very unfair to Israel, what happened.” On Wednesday, Kerry delivered a 70-minute address highlighting the settlement enterprise as a central obstacle to peace, denouncing Israel’s right-wing coalition, and warning that the two-state solution was in jeopardy. Netanyahu castigated Kerry for what he argued was an unjustified assault; Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May also publicly criticized the secretary’s address as unfair and inappropriate.

After the US abstained from last week’s Security Council vote on Resolution 2334, thus allowing the anti-settlement resolution to pass, Trump lashed out at the Obama administration for treating Israel with “with such total disdain and disrespect.”

Taking to his preferred medium of Twitter, the Republican president-elect urged Israel to “stay strong,” as January 20, Inauguration Day, “is fast approaching!”

Trump also implied that under Obama, the US was no longer “a great friend” to the Jewish state.

Netanyahu responded in kind, thanking Trump for his “warm friendship and your clear-cut support.”
The prime minister has said that he looks forward to working with Trump, his administration and the US Congress to reverse the Security Council resolution.

 Islamic State militants have aspirations to launch mass-casualty chemical attacks on targets in Britain and elsewhere in Europe, the British security minister said in a newspaper interview published on Sunday.

Ben Wallace also said British authorities feared that as the militant group was driven out of strongholds in the Middle East such as the Iraqi city of Mosul, Britons fighting for the group would return home and pose a growing domestic threat.

"The ambition of IS or Daesh is definitely mass-casualty attacks," Wallace told the Sunday Times newspaper.

"They have no moral objection to using chemical weapons against populations and if they could, they would in this country. The casualty figures that could be involved would be everybody's worst fear."

The report said no specific chemical plot had been identified but security services had been carrying out exercises to prepare for the possibility.

Islamic State used sulfur mustard gas in an attack on the Syrian town of Marea in August 2015, according to global watchdog the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

Wallace pointed to the dismantlement of an Islamic State cell in Morocco in February as evidence of the group's ambition to carry out chemical attacks elsewhere.

"Moroccan authorities dismantled a cell involving chemical weapons. They recovered toxic chemical and biological substances and a large stock of fertilizer. The substances found could have been used to produce home-made explosives and could have been transformed into a deadly toxin," he said.

About 800 Britons are thought to have traveled to Syria, many to join Islamic State, since the outbreak of the civil war in that country. Around 100 have been killed.

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