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Trump to recognise Jerusalem as Israel capital

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WASHINGTON — US President Donald Trump plans to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on Wednesday and set in motion the relocation of the US Embassy to the ancient city, senior US officials said, a decision that upends decades of US policy and risks fuelling violence in the Middle East.

Senior administration officials called Trump’s expected recognition of Jerusalem an affirmation of ‘reality’ — both historical and current, pointing out that the city is already home to Israel’s parliament, supreme court and other government sites.

Palestinians, however, also claim Jerusalem as their capital, and Trump’s anticipated announcement has touched off an uproar in the Arab world.

Trump, in a landmark speech, will announce he has ordered the State Department to begin developing a plan to move the embassy from Tel Aviv in what is expected to be a process that takes three to four years, the officials said.

Trump will sign a national security waiver that authorises him to delay the embassy relocation for now, since the US diplomats do not yet have a building in Jerusalem to move into, security arrangements or housing for diplomats, the officials said.

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Trump’s endorsement of Israel’s claim to all of Jerusalem as its capital would reverse long-standing US policy that the city’s status must be decided in negotiations with the Palestinians, who want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

The international community does not recognise Israeli sovereignty over the entire city, home to sites holy to the Muslim, Jewish and Christian religions.

The officials, who briefed reporters ahead of Trump’s speech at 1 pm EST (1800 GMT) on Wednesday, insisted that Trump’s decision, intended to fulfill a key campaign promise, was not meant to pre-judge the outcome of eventual talks on the final status of Jerusalem or other major disputes between the two sides.

Instead, one of the officials contended that Trump’s announcements reflected the “historic reality” of Jerusalem as the center of Jewish faith and the “modern reality” that it is the seat of Israeli government.

Such arguments are not likely to sway the Palestinians and the broader Arab world.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Jordan’s King Abdullah, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, who all received telephone calls from Trump on Tuesday, joined a mounting chorus of voices warning that unilateral US steps on Jerusalem would derail a fledgling US-led peace effort that has stymied previous US administrations and unleash turmoil in the region.

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The White House said Trump had also spoken with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a close US ally and longtime proponent of a US embassy move to Jerusalem.

Netanyahu was the only leader whose office did not release a statement following the call. A senior Israeli minister welcomed Trump’s decision while vowing that Israel would be prepared for any outbreak of violence.

Reuters/GNN

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Groom killed, bride injured in India’s Odisha as wedding gift explodes

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BHUBANESWOR — A newly married Idian man his 85-year-old grandmother in Odisha’s Balangir district were killed and his wife was critically injured when a gift that they had received for their wedding reception exploded on Friday, just five days after their wedding, police said.

Soumya Sekhar Sahu of Patnagarh and his grandmother Jemamani Sahu succumbed to injuries in a local hospital. His wife Reema Sahu has been admitted in a critical condition in a government medical college in Sambalpur district, local media reported.

The couple got married on February 18.

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According to Sahu’s nephew Dipak Sahu, the parcel, which did not have the sender’s name, exploded as soon as it was unwrapped, seriously injuring the couple and the Sahus’ grandmother.

Preliminary police investigations on Saturday revealed that the parcel,which weighed nearly 2.10 kg, was dispatched from Raipur in Chhattisgarh through the SkyKing courier service. The forensic and bomb squads during investigations found that the bomb was highly sophisticated and was an electronic explosive.

Sources said that such types of explosives are usually used by the Army or by terror outfits. Reportedly, such a type of bomb had been used in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

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