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Netanyahu cancels UN visit over post-poll ‘political context’

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has cancelled his planned visit to the United Nations General Assembly due to the “political context” in Israel, sources in his office told AFP Wednesday.

Initial results from Tuesday’s general election show Netanyahu’s Likud party tied with the Blue and White alliance of his main challenger, former army chief Benny Gantz.

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According to Israeli media, with more than 90 percent of ballots counted, Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud had 31 seats, while Gantz’s Blue and White took 32 places in Israel’s 120-member parliament.

If the results hold, it will be a major setback for Netanyahu, who hoped to form a right-wing coalition similar to his current administration as he faces possible corruption charges in the weeks ahead.

The election was Israel’s second in five months, and President Reuven Rivlin, who must appoint someone to form the next government, has stressed the “need to avoid a third”.

Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, suffered one of the biggest defeats of his political career after the previous poll.

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Likud and its right-wing and religious allies won a majority, but he failed to form a coalition and opted for a second election rather than risk Rivlin picking someone else to try.

Netanyahu had been due to meet US President Donald Trump on the fringes of the General Assembly next week.

Trump said Saturday that he Netanyahu were to discuss the possibility of moving forward on a “mutual defence” treaty between the allies.

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Netanyahu went further.

“I look forward to our meeting at the UN to advance a historic defence treaty between the United States and Israel,” he said.

Netanyahu has in the past used speeches at the podium to accuse arch-foe Iran of working secretly to develop nuclear arms and denounce its support for militant groups against Israel.

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Biden finally unloads on Trump for smearing his son: ‘Release your tax returns or shut up’

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Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on Wednesday blasted President Donald Trump for an ongoing attack on his son Hunter.

At a press conference in Ohio, Biden was asked if he had done enough to stop his son from taking a retainer from a company in Ukraine.

But the former vice president insisted that "corruption" in Trump's government should be the immediate focus.

"He is running the most corrupt government in the history of the United States of America," Biden charged. "He is running the most corrupt government in the history of the United States of America."

Biden then turned to the camera as if he were speaking directly to Trump.

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Trump rants about Christopher Columbus during press conference with Italy’s president

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President Donald Trump on Wednesday insisted that he would never stop celebrating Christopher Columbus.

"The United States and Italy are bound together by a shared cultural and political heritage dating back thousands of years to ancient Rome," Trump said during a joint press conference with Italian President Sergio Mattarella.

"Over the centuries, the Italian people have blessed our civilization with magnificent works of art, science, philosophy, architecture, and music. On Monday, we paid tribute to the Italian explorer who led a voyage of discovery to the new world. A gentleman known as Christopher Columbus. To me, it will always be called Columbus Day. Some people don’t like that. I do."

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Chelsea Clinton accidentally scorches Meghan McCain while dismissing congressional rumors on The View

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Chelsea Clinton dismissed the rumors that she's considering a run for Congress -- while taking a subtle swipe at fellow political daughter Meghan McCain.

Clinton filled in Wednesday as co-host on "The View" for Joy Behar, who's been out all week, and was asked right away to comment on rumors that she might run for the House seat vacated by the retiring Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY).

"I understand why people are asking, and someone has asked me some version of this question for literally as long as I can remember," Clinton said.

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