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Jerusalem: Jewish Real Estate ‘Colonisation’ Ousting Palestinians and Christians



The odd and mysterious sale of the home of the Muslim man who holds the key to the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, recently bought by an Israeli Jew, has reawakened the pain caused by the issue of property and real estate in the holy city, Asia News reports.

Adeeb Joudeh, whose family has held the key to the most cherished site in all of Christianity since the Crusades, has seen Israeli Jews enter the house. To those who asked him for explanations, he said he sold the property in 2016 to a Palestinian businessman, not “the enemy”. The “real estate” war is but one of the many fault-lines pitting communities in Jerusalem, the centre of Christianity and an equally sacred place for Jews and Muslims, contested capital between Israel and the future Palestinian state.

For a Palestinian to sell his house, real estate property or place of business to the Jewish “enemy” is deemed “treason”. Yet, some settler organisations involved in real estate swear that they are “overwhelmed” by the number of requests from Palestinians who want to sell and go abroad. With respect to this case, the news of the house sale spread across the city causing scandal and sparking outrage, reopening old wounds over what is an absolute taboo.

“We are Palestinians who live under occupation,” Adeeb Joudeh is quoted as saying in L’Orient-Le Jour. “Selling my house to Jews is a disgrace, not only for my family but for all Palestinians.”

Whilst how the change of ownership was done remains a mystery, the real estate war in Jerusalem and across Palestine is crystal clear. Every single sale of an asset outside the community is felt as an injury because – according to the shared view of Palestinians – keeping the property is a “sacred duty, at a political and religious level”.

Under Palestinian law, the sale of land or real estate to Israelis is a crime punishable by death. However, President Mahmoud Abbas has never authorised any executions since he came to power in 2004. Still, in light of the huge amounts of money offered in many cases by Jews to Palestinians, the Palestinian Authority has had to use an iron fist to try to crack down on a dangerous market and reassert once again – together with Muslim religious leaders – the absolute ban on sales.

If “real estate colonisation” worries the Palestinians, for Israeli Jews it represents a “peaceful” way of pursuing the ongoing territorial conflict. Even in the face of a “slow” process, it will bear fruit in the long run”. The confirmation of this comes from Arieh King, director of an agency specialised in the purchase of Palestinian Muslim assets, which are then sold to “new Jewish settlers”.

“It’s just a question of money,” says the real estate agent, who sometimes uses Arab intermediaries to facilitate buying and selling. As an Orthodox Jew, he says that he sometimes delays the formal purchase to allow the Palestinian family that sells to flee abroad to avoid retaliation.

“Together with the sale, we give them a hand with the exit papers”, thus killing two birds with one stone: we buy houses and make sure that Arabs leave Israel. It’s fantastic.”

The issue of ownership also worries Christian leaders, as evinced by the recent statement made by Mgr Atallah Hanna, the Archbishop of Sebastia of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate. Slamming all those who agree to sell (or sell off) Christian and Muslim property in Palestine, he reiterated that assets are under attack with the aim of “marginalising” the Christian presence in the Holy Land.

“Those who sold off their properties and target our endowments are seeking to depreciate our historical presence in this holy land,” bemoaned the prelate.

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China, U.S. Agree to Cancel Tariffs in Phases



China and the United States have agreed to cancel in phases the tariffs imposed during their months-long trade war, the Chinese commerce ministry said on Thursday, without specifying a timetable, Reuters informs.

An interim U.S.-China trade deal is widely expected to include a U.S. pledge to scrap tariffs scheduled for Dec. 15 on about $156 billion worth of Chinese imports, including cell phones, laptop computers and toys, Reuters adds.

Tariff cancellation was an important condition for any agreement, ministry spokesman Gao Feng said, adding that both must simultaneously cancel some tariffs on each other’s goods to reach a “phase one” trade deal.

“The trade war started with tariffs, and should end with the cancellation of tariffs,” Gao told a regular news briefing.

The proportion of tariffs cancelled for both sides to reach a “phase one” deal must be the same, but the number to be cancelled can be negotiated, he added, without elaborating. “In the past two weeks, the lead negotiators from both sides have had serious and constructive discussions on resolving various core concerns appropriately,” Gao said.

“Both sides have agreed to cancel additional tariffs in different phases, as both sides make progress in their negotiations.”

A source previously told Reuters that Chinese negotiators wanted the United States to drop 15% tariffs on about $125 billion worth of Chinese goods that took effect on September 1.

They also sought relief from earlier 25% tariffs on about $250 billion of imports, ranging from machinery and semiconductors to furniture.

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Former Obama Officials Pledge Support to Biden as He Trails Top Rivals in Money Race



In a flex of establishment muscle, a slew of former Obama administration officials came out on Wednesday to support Joe Biden’s Democratic U.S. presidential bid at a time when he is fighting to maintain his front-runner status, Reuters informs.

Biden, 76, who was vice president for eight years under Barack Obama, was the guest at a fundraiser that marked the latest effort by his allies to confront the mounting threat posed in polls and fundraising by his top Democratic rival, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Warren, a progressive who promotes sweeping institutional change, has vowed to change the way Washington does business. Biden has become increasingly reliant on the Democratic political establishment to repel her charge.

Last month, a cadre of Biden’s loyalists launched a Super PAC, something Biden previously resisted. The political action committee allows wealthy donors to give unlimited amounts to support his candidacy. Warren, by contrast, largely accepts only small, online donations, Reuters adds.

Biden and Warren sit atop most national opinion polls, with Warren holding an edge in the early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire and Biden running strongly in other states.

Overall, 17 Democrats are seeking the party’s nomination to take on Republican President Donald Trump in the November 2020 presidential election.

Biden also has stepped up his attacks on Warren, particularly her embrace of single-payer, government-run healthcare. He has increasingly painted Warren, a Harvard University law professor and senator from Massachusetts, as a condescending “elitist” who would not be able to unite a country polarized by Trump’s presidency.

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White House New Hires to Boost Trump Impeachment Defense



The White House is expected to recruit two advisers to take a more aggressive posture in defending President Donald Trump in the congressional impeachment inquiry over his dealings with Ukraine, a senior administration official said on Wednesday, Reuters reported.

The first public hearings are set for next week in the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives. The White House has been conducting an internal review to determine the events surrounding Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukraine President Volodymr Zelenskiy, the official said.

A second senior administration official said the review of the events, which led to a whistleblower complaint followed by House committees hearing testimony in October, was not an investigation but rather a “fact-finding mission.”

William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, has provided some of the most damaging testimony to date. He said that Trump made the release of nearly $400 million in security aid to Ukraine contingent on Kiev publicly declaring it would carry out politically motivated investigations demanded by Trump against former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Reuters adds.

The two outside advisers are former Florida state attorney general Pam Bondi, a Trump ally, and former Treasury Department spokesman Tony Sayegh, who had resigned earlier this year after joining the administration from its early days.

“Pam Bondi and Tony Sayegh are expected to join the White House communications team to work on proactive impeachment messaging and other special projects as they arise,” the first administration official said.

Trump had voiced opposition to bringing in aides, believing he did nothing wrong and that to bring in new advisers would make him look weak, a source familiar with the situation said.

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