Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for May 10, 2017

Newsline: US Embassy will stay in Tel Aviv

Senior US sources said US President Donald Trump has already decided to extend the order which prevents the US Embassy in Israel from being transferred from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, 360 reporter Ariel Kahana said. A US source said Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has already been informed of Trump’s decision. Recently, both governments agreed that this would not be the best time to move the Embassy, and US officials said Israel did not want to deal with the matter at present and had requested Trump delay the move. The Israeli government is not surprised by Trump’s decision, but they are still very disappointed. The expectation was that Trump would make an announcement regarding Jerusalem during his upcoming May 22 visit to Israel. However, the expectation currently is that Trump will push Israel to renew negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, who will be the main focus of Trump’s visit. The next US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, apparently received the news before it was told to Israel. Friedman is scheduled to take office next week. Last week, Friedman was instructed to hold official Embassy events at the Ambassador’s House in Herzliya, since he himself will be living in Jerusalem. The last communication on the issue was received from US Vice President Mike Pence, when he said that the Trump administration was obligated to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as promised during the election campaign.



Newsline: US embassy warns of kidnapping threat on Philippine tourist island

Terrorists are planning to kidnap foreigners on a Philippine island popular with tourists, the US embassy has warned, a month after a foiled abduction attempt by Islamic militants at another tourism hotspot. An advisory from the US embassy in Manila on Tuesday warned Americans to “carefully consider” going to Palawan, naming a World Heritage-listed underground river as one area of specific concern. “The US Embassy has received credible information that terrorist groups may be planning to conduct kidnapping operations targeting foreign nationals in the areas of Palawan,” the advisory said. The Philippine military on Wednesday said in a statement it “shared the same concerns” as the US government, and that it had increased security at Palawan’s tourism sites. The embassy identified two locations — the capital city of Puerto Princesa and the nearby underground river that attracts thousands of visitors daily — as areas the kidnappers were targeting. Puerto Princesa is about 400 kilometres (240 miles) northwest of southern islands that are strongholds of the Abu Sayyaf, militants who have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group and frequently kidnap foreigners. The Abu Sayyaf has since its founding in the 1990s kidnapped dozens of foreigners and many more locals to extract ransoms. The militants beheaded two Canadians last year and an elderly German sailor in February after demands for millions of dollars were unmet. The Abu Sayyaf has also kidnapped people from Malaysian coastal resorts, which are a short speedboat ride from its southern Philippine bases.

US embassy warns of kidnapping threat on Philippine tourist island