By Luke Baker JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to keep his fractious coalition together as talk of early elections grows, but in trying to bolster himself domestically he runs the risk of further alienating international partners. To satisfy restive far-right parties in his government, Netanyahu has promised more settlement on land the Palestinians seek for an independent state, greatly aggravating the United States and the European Union. And in an effort to keep ultra-nationalists sweet, he has not denounced their calls for Jewish prayer at Jerusalem's holiest site, although he has said a decades-long ban on such prayer will not be changed. That cautious approach has harmed Israel's ties with Jordan, which oversees the holy site - known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and Jews as Temple Mount - prompting Amman to withdraw its ambassador for the first time since a 1994 peace treaty. It has also fueled the worst violence Jerusalem has seen in a decade, with daily rioting in the mainly Arab east of the city and talk of a new Palestinian uprising. "From the outside, it's hard to understand why he's doing what he's doing," says one European ambassador, expressing frustration at what he regards as Netanyahu's stubbornness. "At the end of the day it's electoral. He's all about staying in power and that's what he's banking on." Elections are not formally due until 2017. But because of increased friction within the coalition and ructions inside Netanyahu's own Likud party, the smart betting now is that a vote will be called early, probably in around six months' time. That suggests the next half year could be a tumultuous period, with Netanyahu trying to keep his ever more demanding coalition partners onside, even if that means throwing them bones that alarm the Palestinians and international allies. The question is whether Netanyahu, Israel's longest-serving prime minister since the first, David Ben-Gurion, can keep a handle on the growing unease his policy approach appears to be causing, or whether events might spiral out of control. With Sweden having last month become the first major Western country to recognize Palestine as an independent state, any miscalculation could provide other European countries with justifications to follow Sweden's lead. And all the while, the Israeli prime minister is having to deal with a deepening security crisis as violence grows. On Monday, an Israeli soldier was stabbed and critically wounded by a Palestinian man in Tel Aviv, expanding the reach of the recent violence, which had so far largely been confined to Jerusalem, where four people have been killed. The killing of an Arab-Israeli by Israeli police has further complicated the picture, with the risk that the 20 percent Arab minority may join Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem in a more generalized uprising against Israel, even if that possibility remains remote. And underpinning everything is the lack of any peace talks with the Palestinians. The last round broke off in April after months of largely fruitless sessions. Since then, relations between Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have worsened markedly, with the Israeli leader accusing Abbas of inciting the recent violence with a call to Muslims to defend the Noble Sanctuary "by all means". It was only a few months ago that Netanyahu talked of a "new horizon" in the Middle East, saying the threat from Islamic State meant that countries like Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt shared an interest with Israel in defeating Islamist extremism. Now, however, with Jordan having withdrawn its ambassador and Egypt on edge about developments at the Noble Sanctuary, which contains al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock, that new horizon is starting to look distant and cloudy. (Writing by Luke Baker; Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Sophie Walker)
- Business Insider
Jerry Falwell Jr.'s infamous photo with his pants unzipped was taken during a yacht party honoring a raunchy TV show, lawsuit says
When the photo was taken, Jerry Falwell Jr. was the president of an evangelical Christian university that bans sexual content and alcoholic drinks.
In London's East End, there was both adoration for the monarchy and sharp criticism of some members of Britain's royal family on the eve of the funeral of Prince Philip, who died a week ago after seven decades of service to his wife Queen Elizabeth. The queen, heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles and other senior royals will pay their last respects to Philip on Saturday at a ceremonial funeral at Windsor Castle that will be broadcast live by television stations across the world. "My TV's always off - I watch YouTube and just internet and social media stuff," said Johnathan Roach, a 33-year-old window cleaner in Whitechapel, east London.
- Business Insider
Russia is expelling 10 US diplomats in retaliation to Biden's latest sanctions and amid Ukraine tensions
The US slapped new sanctions on over 30 Russian entities on Thursday over Russian election interference and the SolarWinds hack.
- The Week
Marjorie Taylor Greene is leading an 'America First Caucus' that wants to uphold 'Anglo-Saxon political traditions'
In an effort to "follow in President Trump's footsteps," a new America First Caucus led by far-right lawmakers is seeking to protect "Anglo-Saxon political traditions." The new caucus is recruiting members, reports Punchbowl News, and is appealing to a "common respect for Anglo-Saxon political traditions," including pushing for infrastructure that "befits the progeny of European architecture." Punchbowl described the materials being distributed as "some of the most nakedly nativist rhetoric we've ever seen." The new caucus is being led by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.). Republican Reps. Louie Gohmert (Texas) and Barry Moore (Ala.) are also reportedly going to join the group. Take a look at how they describe their immigration and infrastructure policy. pic.twitter.com/6jwkhyAKvl — Punchbowl News (@PunchbowlNews) April 16, 2021 The group calls for "intellectual boldness" as it continues to push the baseless notion of widespread voter fraud being a major issue in national elections, and predicts it will "step on some toes and sacrifice sacred cows for the good of the American nation." Gohmert told CBS News "it's not supposed to be about race at all" when asked about the caucus platform, and said he'd review the language. On the other hand, as if he weren't already scandal-ridden enough, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) tweeted that he's "proud" to join the caucus, saying critics were merely a part of the "America Last crowd." More stories from theweek.com5 colossally funny cartoons about Biden's infrastructure planBiden administration will increase refugee cap after Democratic criticismThe question that will decide the Chauvin case
An email from the French embassy warns of "serious threats" after anti-blasphemy protests.
- Yahoo News
The Biden administration is in a political and scientific conundrum. Even as its experts project confidence in the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine, they are taking pains to show that safety and transparency are paramount. That could be a risky calculation.
- Associated Press
For most of his life, Raul Castro played second-string to his brother Fidel — first as a guerrilla commander, later as a senior figure in their socialist government. The younger Castro, now 89, formally announced Friday that he would step down as first secretary of the island's Communist Party, leaving the Caribbean nation without a Castro in an official position of command for the first time since the earliest days of the revolution that took power more than six decades ago. “I concluded my task as first secretary ... with the satisfaction of having fulfilled (my duty) and confidence in the future of the fatherland,” he said at the eighth party congress — a typically terse, to-the-point finale that contrasted with the impassioned verbal pyrotechnics of his brother, who died in 2016.
- Yahoo News Video
The Ohio county sheriff and his tiny police dog were inseparable, their lives unwaveringly intertwined. It thus seems fitting that retired Geauga County Sheriff Dan McClelland, 67, and his crime-fighting partner Midge, 16, would both die on Wednesday — McClelland at a hospital after a lengthy battle with cancer, and Midge a few hours later at home, perhaps of a broken heart.
- The Independent
‘Thank God the light finally changed and I was able to drive off’, said victim after abuse
- LA Times
Facing a two-year ban for missed drug tests, top U.S. sprinter Christian Coleman sees his appeal to the Court of Arbitration for sport fall short.
- Yahoo News Video
Body camera footage of a Chicago police officer fatally shooting a 13-year-old boy last month shows the officer yelling “Drop it!” at the teen right before he opens fire.
- The Independent
Country’s health system is buckling under pressure of highly contagious P1 variant
An unofficial European Union diplomatic note seen by Reuters on redrawing borders along ethnic lines in the Western Balkans has caused angst and distress in Bosnia, which fears an unexpected shift in EU strategy. The document was first leaked to the Slovenian media and ascribed to Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa, who reportedly had sent it to European Council President Charles Michel as a proposal on how to deal with the region after Slovenia takes over presidency of the EU in July. But Jansa denied that he had sent the document and accused "fake media" of trying to harm Slovenia's efforts to help integrate the Western Balkan states into the wealthy bloc.
- LA Times
Former Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade has purchased an ownership stake in the Utah Jazz, following a legacy of basketball stars turned owners.
- The Week
The Biden administration faced swift criticism on Friday after it was reported that it would no longer raise the United States' refugee cap from the historic low set by the Trump administration. Rather than stick to its pledge to welcome more than 60,000 refugees, rather than the 15,000 maximum set by former President Donald Trump, the White House will instead keep the target of refugee admissions at the lower level. Democrats and advocacy groups condemned the news as "cruel" and "unacceptable," and noted that the Biden administration was using the same justification that Trump did. Completely and utterly unacceptable. Biden promised to welcome immigrants, and people voted for him based on that promise. Upholding the xenophobic and racist policies of the Trump admin, incl the historically low + plummeted refugee cap, is flat out wrong. Keep your promise. https://t.co/A82xYf1XpR — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) April 16, 2021 Biden's team is using the same rationale to justify a historically low refugee cap as Trump's did, pointing to the large influx of asylum-seekers (which are not the same). At left, what a Biden official told @KannoYoungs today; at right, what a Trump official told me in 2018. pic.twitter.com/26PDfh3rM2 — Julie Davis (@juliehdavis) April 16, 2021 Biden keeps the Trump / Stephen Miller refugee cap. Genuinely curious to hear Biden allies explain how what was “racist” and “cruel” under Trump is now enlightened and humane. https://t.co/1kRFNqbiqg — Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) April 16, 2021 Reuters reports the decision "appears to have been tied to concerns over the optics of admitting more refugees at a time of rising numbers of migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border in recent months." An official reportedly told Reuters the administration doesn't want to look too "soft" or "too open." Though officials are reportedly arguing that migrants seeking asylum have overwhelmed the system, "refugees are processed differently in the U.S. immigration system than asylum seekers," writes Reuters. While the administration took heat from many angles, it found support from former Trump adviser Stephen Miller, who was the architect of many of the Trump administration's harshest immigration policies, including the all-time-lowest refugee cap. Miller argued it made sense and said the refugee cap should actually "be reduced to ZERO." More stories from theweek.com5 colossally funny cartoons about Biden's infrastructure planBiden administration will increase refugee cap after Democratic criticismThe question that will decide the Chauvin case
- Yahoo News Video
An appeals court has overturned the sentence of Texas's longest-serving death row inmate, whose attorneys say has languished in prison for more than 45 years because he's too mentally ill to be executed.
Donald Trump Jr. promoted Jake Paul's next fight days after the YouTuber addressed a sexual assault allegation made against him
Donald Trump Jr. promoted controversial YouTuber Jake Paul's next big fight after Paul was accused of sexual assault.
- Yahoo News
'High probability' Biden's decision to pull U.S. troops from Afghanistan will cause its government to fall, expert says
Former White House adviser Richard Clarke said that there is a “high probability” that President Biden’s decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11 will result in the collapse of the Afghan government and a takeover of that country by the Taliban.
From Kit Harington to Emilia Clarke and more, here's a look back at the random acting jobs the "Game of Thrones" stars had before HBO's hit series.
- The Independent
‘I think it’s going to be a tidal wave that’s going to be very difficult to stop’