Top story: Divisive move stokes Middle East tensions
Hello – it’s Warren Murray delivering your early dose of news.
In a potentially explosive decision, Donald Trump is set to break with years of precedent and recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The Palestinians and leaders from the Arab world have condemned the move, which includes relocating the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city.
The White House confirmed overnight that the announcement would be made today. US embassies around the world are bolstering security and American government employees have been told to avoid Jerusalem’s Old City and the West Bank until further notice.
The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, has warned Trump of the risk to Middle East peace efforts and regional and global security. Saudi Arabia’s King Salman said in state media: “Such a dangerous step is likely to inflame the passions of Muslims around the world due to the great status of Jerusalem and the al-Aqsa Mosque.”
Trump has entrusted his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, with trying to secure a Middle East peace settlement. Today’s expected announcement would seem to complicate an effort whose progress is already questionable – though one White House official said, in a quote worthy of Donald Rumsfeld: “There are things happening that the people directly involved in the talks know about that people around the world don’t know about that will become known when the time is right.”
White House officials say moving the US embassy to Jerusalem will take about three years.
Downing Street ‘terror plot’ – British security officials say they have thwarted an Islamist terror plot to storm No 10 and assassinate Theresa May. Two men, aged 20 and 21, were detained on 28 November following an operation involving MI5 and counter-terrorism police. They will appear at Westminster magistrates court today, charged with intending and preparing to commit terrorism. Separately, a barrister reviewing Britain’s response to terrorist attacks has revealed that MI5 had intelligence about the Manchester suicide bomber, Salman Abedi, but its “true significance was not appreciated at the time”. The report by David Anderson QC leaves open whether Abedi might have been stopped.
‘We can’t go on like this’ – Theresa May is being warned she has less than a week to salvage a Brexit deal that would open trade talks before the end of the year, as consternation increases within the EU over her handling of the process. The DUP’s dramatic scuppering of an agreement on the Irish border continues to reverberate – David Davis, the Brexit secretary, has told MPs that “regulatory alignment” to avoid a hard border would also apply to the rest of the UK. Labour’s Brexit spokesman, Keir Starmer, writes in the Guardian that keeping the UK in a customs union with the EU remains an option. Our editorial agrees: “Just do it.”
Meanwhile – the government was ordered last month to throw open the books on the economic impact of leaving the EU. What MPs have been given instead is a high-security reading room housing “two lever-arch files” containing “very, very few things of any interest at all”. For the privilege of reading this sparse material, MPs have to book a timeslot and leave their staff, mobile phones and any recording devices outside (you can take a notebook). Opposition parties have branded it a farce and Davis continues to face the threat of contempt proceedings for failing to provide MPs with full access to the analysis papers.
‘Chris was feisty’ – Christine Keeler, the former model who was at the centre of the Profumo affair, has died aged 75 from lung disease.
Tory minister John Profumo’s relationship with a teenage Keeler led to a major scandal and his resignation in 1963 – Keeler had also been involved with a Russian diplomat, at a time of cold war tensions. Keeler later changed her name to Sloane in an attempt to gain anonymity. Her son, Seymour Platt, said: “There was a lot of good around Chris’s rather tragic life, because there was a family around her that loved her … She was a good, decent person and she got a very unfair label that was hard for her to live with.”
• Christine Keeler’s life and times – in pictures
Welfare desperation – A Conservative MP has wiped away tears while hearing a Labour counterpart’s story of pleading with a constituent not to kill himself in despair at his plight under Britain’s benefits system. Frank Field said another man told him about his “lucky week” going to a funeral “so they could finish off the food”. An emotional Heidi Allen responded: “No government is perfect, no benefits system is perfect … but by God we work together and make this better.” Labour and some Tory MPs continue to voice concern about long waits for universal credit. Today, Aditya Chakrabortty has the story of Simon, who died alcoholic and destitute at the age of 51. He had played by society’s rules, working hard and forging a solid career before getting divorced, losing his job and having to nurse his mother through seven years of terminal cancer. When, under the weight of it all, he fell, society failed to provide a safety net.
Sausage shock – Some of those people appointed to suck the enjoyment out of everything have determined that sausages in Britain contain enormous amounts of salt. The average sausage sandwich might contain nearly two-thirds of an adult’s maximum daily recommended intake of salt. Our report lists some of the worst offenders. In separate findings, a low-calorie diet and weight loss have been credited with reversing type-2 diabetes. Nine out of 10 people in a new study from Newcastle and Glasgow Universities went into remission after losing 15kg or more.
Lunchtime read: A Gaddafi comeback in Libya?
He survived the ouster and murder of his father, spent six years as a militia’s prisoner, and has evaded the international criminal court. Now, supporters claim Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, son of Muammar, is fighting his way towards Tripoli and a political resurgence.
“He can dream, but he can’t get anywhere,” says one analyst. But others are not so sure. Julian Borger writes that Gaddafi could benefit from the chronic sense of uncertainty and insecurity since his father’s fall – Libya has two rival parliaments, and a “kaleidoscope of competing fiefdoms run by warlords and militias”. Observers say the LSE-educated scion could emerge as a political force if elections are held next year. “You can see he has popularity on the ground, particularly in the south,” says one observer. Says another: “There are businesses in the west who were dealing with the old regime who would like to see Saif back.”
Australia have won the second Ashes Test in Adelaide after England fell short by 120 runs. England’s resistance proved short-lived on day five. Josh Hazlewood took the critical wicket of Joe Root, as Australia required only one session to clinch a 2-0 series lead.
Russia’s Olympic Committee has been banned from the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang and ordered to pay $15m in costs after making what the International Olympic Committee called an “unprecedented attack on the integrity of the Olympic Games and sport”. Chelsea, held at home by Atlético Madrid, have allowed leadership of their Champions League group to slip through their fingers, but Manchester United hit back to beat CSKA Moscow and clinch top spot in Group A. Finally, the Rugby Football Union is open to the possibility of getting rid of promotion and relegation to and from the Premiership, according to its chief executive, Steve Brown.
Asian stocks have been dragged down by losses on Wall Street as the technology sector stuttered yet again after a brief rebound and the dollar sagged on lower long-term US yields. Japan’s Nikkei fell 0.9% as copper prices slid to a two-month low and non-ferrous metal producers took a hit. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan dropped 0.9%.
The pound has been trading at $1.342 and €1.133 overnight.
Most of the front pages feature photographs of Christine Keeler, the “Profumo affair” model who died on Monday aged 75. But the headlines are devoted to other things – among them the thwarting of a supposed Islamist plot to kill Theresa May. That one leads the Sun, the Mirror and the Telegraph.
The Guardian goes with pressure increasing on the PM over Brexit. The Daily Mail is preoccupied with the environment, declaring: “Plastics, the tide turns” to go with a story about the UN unveiling a historic pledge to 100 nations to stop polluting the oceans. The FT leads on James Murdoch being mooted as the next Disney chief in a merger with 20th Century Fox. The Times goes with the MoD banning the chancellor from using its planes for failing to pay the bill.
For more news: www.theguardian.com
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