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Netanyahu announces thousands of new east Jerusalem settler homes

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced plans on Thursday to build thousands of new homes for Jewish settlers in annexed east Jerusalem, a project unveiled less than two weeks before a general election.

“I have huge news today — we’re adding another 2,200 units to Har Homa,” Netanyahu said in a video message posted by his office.

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The contentious Har Homa community was first built in 1997, during a previous Netanyahu government.

The prime minister said he had approved that initial construction “despite objections from the entire world” and estimated that Har Homa’s population would grow from 40,000 to 50,000 when the new units were completed.

Netanyahu also announced approval to build a new settlement with several thousands homes in Givat Hamatos, next to the mainly Palestinian east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Beit Safafa.

The new community will include 3,000 homes for Jewish residents and 1,000 “for the Arab residents of Beit Safafa”, Netanyahu said.

Watchdog Peace Now called the Givat Hamatos project “a severe blow to the two-state solution,” as it would interrupt “territorial continuity between Bethlehem and east Jerusalem.”

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Israel seized east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War. It later annexed it in a move never recognized by the international community.

Jewish settlements in east Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank are also considered illegal by most foreign governments and the United Nations.

Peace Now argued that Netanyahu, who is currently leading a caretaker government after two elections failed to produce clear winner, lacked the mandate to approve the contentious projects.

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“Such a change of policy can’t happen in a transitional government without a mandate from the public,” it said.

Netanyahu is trying to secure his re-election at a third vote due to take place on March 2.

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Polls indicate another close race between the prime minister’s right-wing Likud and the centrist Blue and White party, with neither bloc expected to win an outright majority.


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‘I am scared and enraged’: Pandemic expert says CDC reaction under Trump ‘super different’ from Obama

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Pandemic expert Theresa MacPhail of the Stevens Institute of Technology said this week that she "couldn't have been more wrong" about the way the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) handled the novel coronavirus outbreak.

MacPhail told Vice that she expected the CDC to have a more "robust" response to the virus than China had.

"I just assumed that the U.S. system would be a little bit better, would be a little bit more robust and do more testing and containment than China was able to do, and I just couldn't have been more wrong," she lamented.

According to MacPhail, something changed at the CDC after President Barack Obama left office.

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The Mafia’s using Facebook to whip up violence aimed at ending coronavirus lockdown in Italy’s south

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The Italian mob has been stirring up trouble and looting stores as the country endures its coronavirus crisis.

Guards stand outside grocery stores after people started refusing to pay, and clerks were too afraid of catching the virus to stop them -- and authorities believe the Mafia has been stoking the unrest before stepping in to bring order and increase their power in the southern regions, reported The Daily Beast.

Closed Facebook groups with thousands of members have been calling for riots and civil disobedience in southern Italy, which so far has escaped the grim coronavirus fate as northern regions for reasons that aren't entirely clear.

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Jerry Falwell Jr seems to want credit from Trump for drinking his coronavirus Kool-Aid: op-ed

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Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr. has reopened the school's campus in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Now, according to a report from the New York Times, “nearly a dozen” students at the evangelical school have developed symptoms similar to those of COVID-19 as of this Friday, with at least one student testing positive for the virus.

Falwell, an avid Trump supporter, has consistently downplayed the severity of the pandemic, even insisting at one point that attempts to control its spread are nothing more than a plot to undermine Donald Trump’s presidency. Writing in the Washington Post this Monday, Michael Gerson contends Falwell Jr's response to the crisis "indicates the staggering level of ignorance" that informs his leadership skills, as evidenced by the "constant churn of mixed messages that Falwell has contributed to our national debate."

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