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Israel army orders settlers out of Hebron house

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JERUSALEM — The Israeli military on Monday ordered a group of settlers to evacuate a contested house in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, less than a week after they moved into the property.

“After examining all the evidence that was handed over and after considering all the circumstances of the incident, it was decided to return to the situation which existed before,” said the military order, which was sent to the lawyer representing the settlers.

“In other words: the state that existed before the settlers entered the house.”

The order, which gives the settlers until 1200 GMT on April 3 to evacuate the building of their own free will, said the decision was based on “considerations of public order.”

“If you do not comply, the authorities will take action to immediately clear the structure,” it said.

However, a senior government official told AFP that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had written a letter to Defence Minister Ehud Barak asking that the settlers be given “a supplementary postponement to comply with this decision.”

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Last week, dozens of Israeli settlers moved into the second floor of the building, which they dubbed Beit Machpelah, in an overnight operation on March 28.

They said the property had been legally purchased, but relatives of the Palestinian owners, who live on the first floor, dispute the claim.

Guy Inbar, spokesman for the Civil Administration which manages all civilian affairs in parts of the West Bank under full Israeli military and security control, said all such purchases need official approval — which they did not obtain.

“The purchase of a building by an Israeli from a Palestinian needs to be approved by the Civil Administration,” he told AFP.

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“Beit Machpelah did not request such permits, which is illegal, and for this reason they were asked to vacate the premises by tomorrow (Tuesday) afternoon.”

A closed military zone was put in place around the house, which is near the contested religious site known as the Cave of the Patriarchs (or the Machpelah Cave) to Jews and the Ibrahimi Mosque to Muslims.

David Wilder, spokesman for the Israeli settler community in Hebron, slammed the evacuation order as a “political decision.”

“The only reason written on the order is ‘breach of public order’ although we have documents (proving) that the house is ours,” he told AFP.

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“There are people who do not want Jews in Hebron. We intend to do everything to bring about the cancellation of the order.”

Zeev Elkin and Arieh Eladad, two ultra-nationalist MPs, called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “immediately cancel the outrageous evacuation order that was issued against the House of the Patriarchs in Hebron.”

“It cannot be that (maintaining) ‘public order’ in the city of our forefathers means preventing Jews from living opposite the Tomb of the Patriarchs,” they said in a statement, calling on Netanyahu’s government to instead throw its support behind the Jewish community in Hebron.

Hebron is the largest Palestinian city in the West Bank, home to some 170,000 Palestinian residents, but also a core of around 600 Israeli hardcore settlers who live in the heart of the city protected by a large Israeli military presence.

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The Old City has become a flashpoint for confrontations between Israelis and Palestinians.

In 1994, a settler from the nearby Kiryat Arba settlement gunned down 29 Palestinians as they prayed at the contested Ibrahimi Mosque/Cave of the Patriarchs site.

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2020 Election

Trump un-ironically worries a presidential candidate who refuses to concede and then shreds the constitution

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President Donald Trump officially kicked off his re-election campaign at a campaign rally in Orlando, Florida -- the 60th campaign rally of his presidency.

During the speech, Trump offered a good deal of projection as he made baseless accusations against Democrats -- on the same exact topics where he has been credibly accused.

"This election is a verdict on whether we want to live in a country where the people will lose an election, refused to concede to spend the next two years trying to shred our Constitution and rip your country apart," Trump argued.

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An economic crash is looming, and it could determine the fate of Trump — and the country

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If he times it right, Donald Trump might set back the Democratic Party for a generation or more; if he misses, he’ll go down in history along with Herbert Hoover as the guy who brought the nation an economic disaster.

Back in 2007 and early 2008, many of us were convinced that an economic crash was coming, and that George W. Bush and his Treasury secretary, Henry Paulson, and Fed chairman, Alan Greenspan, knew it.

And we also thought that they were doing everything they could to hold it off so it would happen after the 2008 election, so if a Democrat was elected they could say the crash was because people were “worried about the incoming Democrats,” and if McCain won it would be his problem, not Bush’s.

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‘We have been under siege’: Trump falsely claims he has been ‘violently’ attacked by his critics

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President Donald Trump claimed to be the victim of "violence" during his official campaign kickoff in Orlando, Florida.

"Many times I said we would drain the swamp and that’s exactly what we are doing right now. We are draining the swamp," Trump claimed, despite having the most scandal-plagued administration in American history.

"And that is why the swamp is fighting back so viciously and violently," Trump argued.

"For the last two and a half years we have been under siege and with the Mueller report we want and now they want a do-over. They want a do-over," he repeated.

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