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In warning to Benjamin Netanyahu, US House endorses two-state solution

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The US House of Representatives on Friday threw its weight behind a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians, in a warning to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he mulls annexing the West Bank.

Passed largely along party lines, the House resolution also marked a shot across the bow to President Donald Trump, who has stood squarely behind Netanyahu.

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In its first-ever resolution on a West Bank annexation, the House said that a two-state solution “can both ensure the state of Israel’s survival as a Jewish and democratic state and fulfill the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people for a state of their own.”

The United States should “discourage steps by either side that would put a peaceful end to the conflict further out of reach,” the resolution said.

Such steps include “unilateral annexation of territory or efforts to achieve Palestinian statehood status outside the framework of negotiations with Israel,” it said.

Representative Eliot Engel, the Democrat who heads the House Foreign Affairs Committee, recalled his longtime support of Israel and how he backed Trump’s shift of the US embassy to the disputed holy city of Jerusalem.

But he said, in a choice turn of phrase, US security was being “trumped by decisions about our own political interests.”

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“Those of us that are strong supporters of Israel understand that Israel is best served by a two-state solution, that a two-state solution is good not only for Palestinians but also good for Jews,” Engel said on the House floor.

The two-state solution had enjoyed support from successive US presidents and, until recently, House resolutions on Israel saw little dissent.

Republicans accused the Democrats of improperly intervening in Israeli decision-making and ignoring what they call incitement by the Palestinians.

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“The resolution completely ignores the reason why the two-state solution has never gotten off the ground: Venomous voices among the Palestinians don’t want two states, they want one — a Palestinian state,” said Republican Representative Steve Chabot.

The resolution “gives the Palestinians a vote over Israel’s future. We shouldn’t let that happen,” he said.

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Netanyahu, who is clinging to power after two inconclusive elections and a criminal indictment, has vowed to annex much of the West Bank — a move that would doom prospects for a Palestinian state.

The Trump administration, whose evangelical Christian base staunchly backs Israel, has not condemned annexation and rallied behind Netanyahu.

In a step that could ease the way for annexation, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last month that the United States no longer shared the widely held international position that Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal.

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Companies owned by this billionaire GOP governor received up to $24 million in bailout loans

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Companies owned by West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice and his family received up to $24 million from one of the federal government’s key coronavirus economic relief programs, according to data made public Monday.

At least six companies from Justice’s empire showed up on the list of Paycheck Protection Program aid recipients released by the Small Business Administration.

The Greenbrier Hotel Corporation, Justice’s firm that owns and operates the iconic luxury resort, received a loan of between $5 million and $10 million.

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Trump friends and family cleared for millions in small business bailout

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Businesses tied to President Donald Trump’s family and associates stand to receive as much as $21 million in government loans designed to shore up payroll expenses for companies struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to federal data released Monday.

A hydroponic lettuce farm backed by Trump’s eldest son, Donald Jr., applied for at least $150,000 in Small Business Administration funding. Albert Hazzouri, a dentist frequently spotted at Mar-a-Lago, asked for a similar amount. A hospital run by Maria Ryan, a close associate of Trump lawyer and former mayor Rudy Giuliani, requested more than $5 million. Several companies connected to the president’s son-in-law and White House adviser, Jared Kushner, could get upward of $6 million.

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50 dead in Japan floods as rescuers ‘race against time’

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Emergency services in western Japan were "racing against time" Tuesday to rescue people stranded by devastating floods and landslides that have killed at least 50, as the country braced for more torrential downpours.

Japan's Meteorological Agency (JMA) issued its second-highest emergency warning for heavy rain and landslides over vast swathes of the country's southwest and said "risks are rising" nationwide.

Television footage showed swollen rivers breaking their banks and sweeping away bridges while landslides destroyed roads and buried houses, complicating access for the 80,000 rescue personnel battling to save lives.

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