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Donald Trump links Mexico border wall plan to Israel’s ‘successful’ separation barrier

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Donald Trump attempted to draw parallels between Israel’s separation barrier and his much-touted border wall pledge on Sunday after both presidential nominees met the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

In Trump’s hour-long meeting with Netanyahu at his Trump Tower penthouse, the two reportedly discussed “at length Israel’s successful experience with a security fence that helped secure its borders”, according to the Trump campaign.

Israel’s separation barrier, which runs for 440 miles (700km) near or along the 1949 armistice lines set after Israel’s war for independence, is a fence of most of its length. In contrast, Trump has pledged to build a wall of concrete and rebar as high as 55 feet (17 metres) along the nearly 2,000 mile border between the US and Mexico

The meeting was the first of two that Netanyahu held with presidential candidates on Sunday, the day before the first presidential debate. Contrary to custom both meetings were closed to the media, the Trump campaign has prevented reporters from any access to his meeting with Netanyahu and aides to the Israeli prime minister reportedly went on to insist Clinton’s campaign abide by the same rules Trump insisted upon.

According to a readout provided by the Republican’s campaign, the nominee signaled support for the controversial moving of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as the real estate developer “acknowledged that Jerusalem has been the eternal capital of the Jewish people for over 3,000 years, and that the United States, under a Trump administration, will finally accept the long-standing Congressional mandate to recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the State of Israel”.

Despite the fact Trump’s daughter Ivanka converted to Judaism upon her marriage to property developer and top Trump campaign aide Jared Kushner in 2009, he has made some missteps so far in the campaign on Middle East policy and appealing to Jewish voters, who make up a key demographic in American elections.

In 2015, speaking to the Republican Jewish Coalition, Trump referred to stereotypes relating to Jews and money and told the audience: “You’re not going to support me because I don’t want your money”, suggesting they wanted to control politicians. In 2016, speaking before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a pro-Israel advocacy group, Trump gave a notably stilted performance in what was his first speech using a teleprompter.

Clinton’s meeting, which lasted just under an hour on Sunday night, was held at the W Hotel in Union Square. In the meeting, which was described by the Clinton campaign as an “in-depth conversation”, Clinton “stressed that a strong and secure Israel is vital to the United States because we share overarching strategic interests and the common values of democracy, equality, tolerance, and pluralism”. The Democratic nominee also reaffirmed her support for a two-state solution “that guarantees Israel’s future as a secure and democratic Jewish state with recognized borders and provides the Palestinians with independence, sovereignty, and dignity”. She stressed “her opposition to any attempt by outside parties to impose a solution, including by the UN security council”.

After decades in public service, the former secretary of state has a far more extensive record on Israel and Middle East. She defended her pro-Israel bona fides in a March speech to AIPAC, saying: “I feel so strongly that America can’t ever be neutral when it comes to Israel’s security or survival.” In July 2015, she wrote a public letter condemning the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, an effort of fringe left wing groups in the US that seeks to equate Israel with apartheid South Africa that has drawn significant concern in the American Jewish community. In the meeting, Clinton “stressed her commitment to countering attempts to delegitimize Israel, including through the BDS movement”.

However, unlike Trump, Clinton did support the controversial Iran nuclear deal that the US reached in 2015 as a part of an effort to prevent the Iranian regime obtaining nuclear weapons. Supporters of the deal have insisted that it provides the mechanisms to stop Iran building such armaments. Critics say it provides the regime, which is still listed as a state sponsor of terrorism, with an undeserved windfall in sanctions relief and does not contain enough nuclear safeguards.

The US has long maintained a close alliance with Israel and the maintenance of that relationship has long been a crucial issue for many American voters. Despite a difficult personal relationship between the Obama White House and the Netanyahu government, including conflict over the Iran deal, the US pledged a record increase in military aid to Israel earlier in September.

24 Hours Across Africa

US House faults Trump attacks on congresswomen as racist

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Source: BBC-

The US House of Representatives has voted to condemn President Donald Trump after a series of attacks aimed at four congresswomen.

The symbolic resolution denounced Mr Trump’s “racist comments that have legitimised fear and hatred of New Americans and people of colour”.

Mr Trump had been accused of racism and xenophobia for telling the members of congress to leave the country.

The president has since tweeted: “I don’t have a Racist bone in my body!”

Tuesday’s debate in the Democratic-controlled chamber was a highly polarised debate,

with various Republicans insisting the vote itself was a breach of decorum.

It passed by 240 votes to 187.

Four Republicans and the House’s sole independent, former Republican lawmaker Justin Amash, joined all 235 Democrats to approve the resolution

The four Republicans were Texas congressman Will Hurd (the party’s only African American representative), Brian Fitzpatrick (Pennsylvania), Fred Upton (Michigan) and Susan Brooks (Indiana).

Passing a resolution – which is a statement of opinion and not legally binding – criticising presidential conduct is very rare.

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24 Hours Across Africa

Senate opens hearing into Facebook plans for Libra cryptocurrency

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U.S. lawmakers from both sides of the aisle were set to grill Facebook Inc on its cryptocurrency plans on Tuesday, as the project continues to draw intense scrutiny from financial regulators and politicians across the globe.

Facebook is fighting a rearguard action to get Washington onside after it shocked regulators and lawmakers with an announcement on June 18 that it was hoping to launch a new digital coin called Libra in 2020.

Since then it has faced criticism from policymakers and financial watchdogs at home and abroad who fear widespread adoption of the digital currency by the social media giant’s 2.38 billion users could upend the financial system.

“Facebook has demonstrated through scandal after scandal that it doesn’t deserve our trust,” Democratic senator Sherrod Brown, the ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee, said in his opening remarks. “We’d be crazy to give them a chance to let them experiment with people’s bank accounts.”

Critics have expressed anger that the company would have got so far in its plans for such a potentially groundbreaking project without extensive input from policymakers, especially when it is already in the spotlight over privacy issues.

The Senate Banking Committee is questioning David Marcus, the company’s top executive overseeing the project, on issues ranging from how Libra could affect global monetary policy to how customer data will be handled.

Marcus, who was president of PayPal from 2012 to 2014, tried to assuage concerns in his opening remarks by promising that Facebook will not begin offering Libra until regulatory issues are addressed.

“We know we need to take the time to get this right,” Marcus, who is also due to testify before the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday, said.

Marcus is likely to get a frosty reception from other Democratic lawmakers who already believe the company is too large and careless with consumer data.

He is also likely to face skepticism from Republicans after U.S. President Donald Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin voiced concerns.

“They’re going to have to convince us of very high standards before they have access to the U.S. financial system,” Mnuchin said on Monday.

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