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29 January 2020

TRUMP UNVEILS WEST ASIA PLAN, PALESTINIANS PROTEST

U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday proposed creation of a Palestinian
state with capital in eastern Jerusalem, dependent on Palestinians taking
steps to become self-governing, as part of a peace plan to end decades of
conflict in the region.
Senior administration officials said that under Mr. Trump's proposed West
Asia peace plan, the U.S. will recognise Israeli settlements on the occupied
West Bank.
In exchange, Israel would agree to accept a four-year freeze on new
settlement activity while Palestinian statehood is negotiated.
"Today, Israel has taken a giant step toward peace," Mr. Trump said as he
announced the plan at the White House with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu at his side, saying he also sent a letter about it to Palestinian
President Mahmoud Abbas.
"This is a historic day," Mr. Netanyahu said, comparing Mr. Trump's peace
plan to former President Harry Truman's 1948 recognition of the state of
Israel. "On this day, you became the first world leader to recognise
Israel's sovereignty over areas in Judea and Samaria that are vital to our
security and central to our heritage," he added, using the Biblical names
for the West Bank.
The absence of the Palestinians from Mr. Trump's announcement is likely to
fuel criticism that the plan tilts toward Israel.
U.S. officials said they were braced for initial Palestinian skepticism but
hoped that over time they will agree to negotiate.
Mr. Trump has endorsed a proposed map outlining the two states, the
officials said. The Palestinian state would be double the size of land that
Palestinians currently control and would be connected by roads, bridges and
tunnels, the official said.
Meanwhile, thousands of Palestinians demonstrated in Gaza and Israeli troops
reinforced positions near a flashpoint site between the Palestinian city of
Ramallah and the Jewish settlement of Beit El in the West Bank.


DEFYING U.S., U.K. GIVES HUAWEI 5G ROLE

Prime Minister Boris Johnson granted Huawei a limited role in Britain's 5G
mobile network on January 28, resisting U.S. pressure to exclude the Chinese
company from next generation communications over fears Beijing could use
them to spy. Britain had to weigh its "special relationship" with the U.S.
against Chinese trade and investment ties which it wants to develop after
leaving the EU.
Mr. Johnson, in the biggest test of his post-Brexit foreign policy to date,
ruled that "high-risk vendors" would be allowed into the "non-sensitive"
parts of 5G networks.
However, their involvement will be capped at 35%, they will be excluded from
the sensitive core, where data is processed, and they will be banned from
all critical networks and locations such as nuclear sites and military
bases, the government said.
The decision will dismay President Donald Trump's administration which fears
China could use Huawei to access Western communications. It warned London
that giving Huawei a role would risk intelligence cooperation.
"This is a UK-specific solution for UK-specific reasons and the decision
deals with the challenges we face right now," Communications Secretary Nicky
Morgan said following a meeting of the National Security Council chaired by
Johnson.
Huawei was not mentioned by name in the British government's statement, but
British cyber security officials said they had always treated the company as
a "high risk" vendor.
"This evidence-based decision will result in a more advanced, more secure
and more cost-effective telecoms infrastructure that is fit for the future.
It gives the UK access to world-leading technology and ensures a competitive
market," Huawei vice president Victor Zhang said.


CORONAVIRUS: AIRLINES CUT CHINA FLIGHTS AS COMPANIES RESTRICT TRAVEL ON
VIRUS FEARS

Airlines including United Airlines Holdings Inc said they were canceling
some flights to China as demand fell sharply and global companies told their
employees not to travel on deepening fears over the spread of a flu-like
virus.
The coronavirus that originated in the city of Wuhan has killed 106 people
in China and spread across the world, rattling financial markets.
The United States warned that Americans should reconsider visiting China,
while Britain advised against all but essential travel to mainland China.
South Korea also advised its citizens to stay away.
Facebook Inc became the first major U.S. company to announce a travel
suspension after the U.S. government's warning, saying it had asked
employees to halt non-essential travel to mainland China and to work from
home if they had traveled there.
Chicago-based United said it was suspending 24 U.S. flights to Beijing, Hong
Kong and Shanghai between February 1 and February 8 due to a significant
drop in demand.
Europe's biggest bank, HSBC Holdings PLC, banned all staff travel to
Chinese-ruled Hong Kong for two weeks and to mainland China until further
notice, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters.
The British-based lender, which has the largest presence among foreign banks
in China, also asked staff who have recently visited the country to undergo
a self-imposed 14-day quarantine. The virus has an incubation period of up
to 14 days.
U.S. rival Goldman Sachs Group Inc imposed similar measures, according to a
memo seen by Reuters.
In South Korea, home appliances maker LG Electronics Inc put a complete ban
on travel to China and has advised employees on business trips in the
country to return home as quickly as possible, a company spokeswoman said.
South Korean chipmaker SK Hynix Inc said it was urging employees to avoid
all non-essential travel to China, while banking group Standard Chartered
PLC restricted travel to both mainland China and Hong Kong.
In Germany, auto supplier Webasto, which has 11 sites in China, including in
Wuhan, has halted all corporate travel to and from China after an employee
was infected.
Japan's Honda Motor Co Ltd said it recommended employees avoid travel to
China, while Nissan Motor Co Ltd said it plans to evacuate its Japanese
staff and their families in Wuhan via a government-chartered flight.


CARIBBEAN EARTHQUAKE OF 7.7 PROMPTS OFFICE EVACUATIONS IN MIAMI

A powerful 7.7-magnitude earthquake has struck in the Caribbean, prompting
brief tsunami warnings and office evacuations as far away as Florida.
The quake hit between Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and Cuba at a depth of 10
km (6.2 miles), the US Geological Survey (USGS) said on Tuesday.
Buildings shook and tremors were felt across the Caribbean, but there were
no immediate reports of casualties.
Some offices were temporarily evacuated in Miami and parts of Jamaica.
Warnings by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) were later withdrawn.
The PTWC initially said "hazardous tsunami waves" were possible for coasts
located within 300km (186 miles) of the earthquake's epicentre.
This included parts of Belize, Cuba, Honduras, Mexico, the Cayman Islands
and Jamaica, it said. But in an update at around 20:45 GMT, the PTWC said
the "tsunami threat had now largely passed".
Seismologist Dr Lucy Jones tweeted: "The M7.7 Jamaican quake produced
sideways motion on the fault, so the tsunami risk is low."


ISRAEL'S PM NETANYAHU INDICTED ON GRAFT CHARGES

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was formally indicted on
corruption charges on Tuesday, hours after he withdrew his request for
parliamentary immunity in the three graft cases against him, becoming the
first sitting premier to face criminal charges.
Netanyahu, 70, has been charged with bribery and fraud and breach of trust
in three separate corruption cases. Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit
submitted the indictment in Jerusalem District Court.
Netanyahu will be the first sitting prime minister to face trial in the
country's history. A trial date has not been set yet, but the legal process
could possibly take years.
"The indictment was filed a short time ago. as is required by law,"
Mandelblit's office stated.
A spokesperson for the Justice Ministry said once a member of Knesset
(Israeli parliament) rescinds his immunity request, he must be treated like
any other citizen and the ministry has to immediately file indictment
against him with the court.
Under Israeli law, Netanyahu does not have to resign upon indictment.
He only has to resign if he is convicted and that conviction is upheld
through the appeals process.


ISLAMOPHOBIA RAMPANT ON SOCIAL MEDIA, NOT IN REAL LIFE: STUDY

With an aim to dispel the myth that the vast majority of people in the US
are anti-Muslim, researchers say that the hatred Muslim candidates see
online may be different than what they experience on the campaign trail.
Islamophobia was rampant on social media during the 2018 US midterm
elections.
In a study, the researchers found that the majority of anti-Muslim tweets
related to the 2018 midterm elections were sent by either a select few
thought leaders with large followings on social media, or by bots-software
that autonomously tweets or retweets content.
Additionally, Muslim candidates' face-to-face experiences with constituents
were generally more positive than what they experienced online.
"People retweet these messages of hate because they feel like they're
jumping on the bandwagon where they think everyone feels that way," said
Shaheen Pasha, an assistant teaching professor at Pennsylvania State
University.
In reality, it's just a handful of people and a lot of bots who are creating
this content.
"These hateful messages are snowballing even though the majority of people
may not agree or actually feel that way," she added.
According to the researchers, Islamophobia ramped up on social media as
Muslim candidates ran for seats in the US Senate and House of
Representatives in the 2018 midterm elections.

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