Australia recognizes West Jerusalem as capital of Israel

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Saturday that his government recognizes West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. “The government has resolved that Australia’s position is now as follows: Australia now recognizes West Jerusalem as being the seat of the Knesset [Israeli parliament] … West Jerusalem is the capital of Israel,” he said in a … Continue reading “Australia recognizes West Jerusalem as capital of Israel”

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Saturday that his government recognizes West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

“The government has resolved that Australia’s position is now as follows: Australia now recognizes West Jerusalem as being the seat of the Knesset [Israeli parliament] … West Jerusalem is the capital of Israel,” he said in a speech at the Sydney Institute.Morrison noted that for now, the embassy won’t move from Tel Aviv, but that may change later.

    “We look forward to moving our embassy to West Jerusalem, when practical, in support of and after a final status determination,” he said. “We’ve decided to start the work there now, to identify a suitable site for an Australian embassy in West Jerusalem.”Scott Morrison noted that for now, the Australian Embassy won’t move from Tel Aviv, but that may change later.Morrison emphasized that a two-state solution is the only way to resolve the dispute.Read More”A two-state solution remains the only viable way to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian dispute,” he said. “The obstacles, we must admit, to achieving such a solution are becoming insurmountable.”Australia has resolved to acknowledge “the aspirations of Palestinians people for a future state with its capital in East Jerusalem,” he added.Australia’s announcement regarding the capital of Israel differs from that of the United States a year ago because it refers specifically to West Jerusalem. When President Donald Trump made his announcement a year ago he made no such distinction between West and East, saying instead that the US recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. “Jerusalem is the seat of Israel’s government,” Trump said in a video message during the opening. “It is the home of the Israeli legislature and the Israeli supreme court and Israel’s Prime Minister and President. Israel is a sovereign nation with the right to determine its own capital, yet for many years we failed to acknowledge the obvious, the plain reality that Israel’s capital is Jerusalem.”US folds diplomatic representation to the Palestinians into its Jerusalem EmbassyThe division of Jerusalem into East and West dates from the 1949 armistice agreement that brought fighting between Israel and Arab powers to an end, and left the city divided. West Jerusalem was in the hands of Israel. East Jerusalem was in the hands of Jordan. A 1947 United Nations plan to divide Palestine in two, creating a Jewish state and an Arab state, had envisaged Jerusalem as an internationally run “corpus separatum,” apart from the two states.In 1967 Israel captured East Jerusalem in the Six Day War. It expanded the municipal boundaries of the city and declared all of it to be the unified capital of Israel.

      Until Trump’s announcement, the international community was largely united in not formally recognizing Israel’s position, stating instead that only a negotiated agreement between the two sides could determine the city’s final status.The city is home to deeply holy sites for Jews, Muslims and Christians. The issue has been so thorny that negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians had left the question of Jerusalem to the final stages of any peace deal.

Australia recognizes west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

SYDNEY – Australia has decided to formally recognize west Jerusalem as Israel's capital, but won't move its embassy until there's a peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Saturday.

Morrison said in a speech that Australia would recognize east Jerusalem as Palestine's capital only after a settlement has been reached on a two-state solution. The Australian Embassy won't be moved from Tel Aviv until such a time, he said.

While the embassy move is delayed, Morrison said his government would establish a defense and trade office in Jerusalem and would also start looking for an appropriate site for the embassy.

"The Australian government has decided that Australia now recognizes west Jerusalem, as the seat of the Knesset and many of the institutions of government, is the capital of Israel," Morrison said.

He said the decision respects both a commitment to a two-state solution and long-standing respect for relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Australia becomes the third country to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, following the U.S. and Guatemala.

Unlike its predecessors, however, Australia recognized only the western part of the city. The move, therefore, is unlikely to please either side entirely.

For the Palestinians, it offers a partial resolution to an issue that they believe should be resolved through negotiations. That decision is softened, though, by recognizing their claim to east Jerusalem.

The Israelis welcome recognition of Jerusalem as their capital, but the Australian decision falls far short of their claim to all of the city. Refusing to include east Jerusalem, home to the city's most important religious sites, is likely to upset Israeli nationalists who dominate Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition.

There was no immediate comment from Jerusalem on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath.

Morrison had earlier floated the idea that Australia may follow the contentious U.S. move of relocating its embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, but it was seen by many Australians as a political stunt. Critics called it a cynical attempt to win votes in a by-election in October for a Sydney seat with a high Jewish population.

The consideration had sparked backlash from Muslim-majority Indonesia and Malaysia, threatening a free trade deal that has now been delayed.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten said the decision to recognize west Jerusalem as Israel's capital but not move the embassy there was a "humiliating backdown" from the October by-election campaign.

"What I'm worried is that Mr. Morrison put his political interest ahead of our national interest," Shorten told reporters.

Israel captured east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war and annexed it in a move that is not internationally recognized. Israel considers east Jerusalem an indivisible part of its capital, while the Palestinians seek the area, home to the city's most sensitive holy sites, as the capital of a future state.

___

Associated Press writer Josef Federman in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

Roger, the ripped kangaroo and ‘true icon,’ has died

A burly kangaroo whose buff physique shot him to internet fame has died at the age of 12.

“We have lost our beautiful boy, Roger,” Chris Barnes, owner of the Kangaroo Sanctuary in Australia, announced on Saturday on Facebook. Roger, who was 6 foot 7 inches and weighed nearly 200 pounds in his prime, was rescued by Barnes as a joey after his mother was killed on a highway.

    In a video tribute to the marsupial, Barnes said he was inspired to set up the 188-acre sanctuary in Alice Springs to house the famous kangaroo and his growing harem of wives. “I built it so they had a place to live,” he said. Roger was the sanctuary’s alpha male for many years, Barnes added. “He grew up to be a kangaroo that people from all over the world have grown to love as much as we love him too.”Read MoreRoger’s death led to an outpouring of grief on social media. Australian singer Natalie Imbruglia called him “such a proud strong boy” in an Instagram post, while the Australian government’s tourism agency described him as a “true icon.”

    Remembering Roger, the world’s most buff kangaroo, and a true icon of @ausoutbacknt's #kangaroosanctuary.💛

    (via The Kangaroo Sanctuary) #seeaustralia pic.twitter.com/PUcq6NtWUl

    — Australia (@Australia) December 10, 2018

    The beefcake kangaroo became an internet sensation in 2015, when a picture of him crushing a metal bucket with his bare paws went viral on social media.”As a man kangaroo if you want to have a wife you are going to have to fight for her,” Barnes told CNN at the time. “Now you try and get your opponent in a big bear hug basically and wrestle them, and Roger did that to the bucket.”

      Despite his bulging biceps, the kangaroo could not defeat the aging process, suffering from a loss of vision and arthritis in later life. But Barnes assured fans in a 2016 video that Roger was loving retirement. “[Roger is] taking it easy, not chasing anyone anymore, not mating the girls,” Barnes said as he filmed the kangaroo lying on his back. “(He’s) just enjoying his time lying around like this.”

Sydney teen jailed for planning attack

SYDNEY – An Australian court sentenced a Sydney teenager to at least 12 years in prison on Tuesday for planning an attack inspired by the Islamic State group for which he bought knives and bayonets from a gun shop two years ago.

The now 18-year-old male, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was arrested outside a Muslim prayer hall in the western Sydney suburb of Bankstown in October 2016, and found guilty of plotting an attack by a jury in September.

Handing down his sentence at the Parramatta Supreme Court in western Sydney, Judge Geoffrey Bellew rejected the man's claim that he had purchased the weapons for hunting animals.

"At the time of his arrest, the offender was ready, willing and able to carry out a terrorist attack," the judge said.

"It reflects a deep and unstinting motivation to act upon and put into specific effect the irrational, immoral and heinous advice propounded in extremist propaganda issued by Islamic State," the judge added.

The teenager acknowledged to the court that he sympathized with the Islamic State group when he bought the weapons, but denied any plan to use them in a terror attack, saying he wanted them for camping and hunting.

Bellew said there was overwhelming evidence against the teenager, and sentenced him to 16 years in prison with a non-parole period of 12 years.

The judge said it was significant that the teenager's arrest came little more than a month after he had downloaded an IS magazine which mentioned Bankstown in an article urging readers to "alleviate the pain afflicting the hearts of the Muslims by striking the kuffar in their homelands."

Kuffar is a derogatory Arabic word meaning nonbeliever.

"Kill them on the streets of Brunswick, Broadmeadows, Bankstown, and Bondi," the magazine said, in reference to suburbs of Melbourne and Sydney. It also mentioned the Melbourne Cricket Ground and Sydney Opera House.

The judge said the teenager "regarded the government as evil," and said he was satisfied an attack was imminent when the offender was arrested with an alleged co-offender. The court heard that during the arrest, police searched two backpacks which contained two of the knives plus several items of clothing, neck gaiters and a handwritten pledge of "allegiance to the caliph."

The 18-year-old sat quietly as he was sentenced, then waved to his father as he was led from the court.

The court heard he was raised in a household supportive of Islamic State ideology. However, the judge rejected the man's claim that he was influenced or pressured to support that ideology by other people, saying his "return to extremist ideology was a product of his own volition."

The man will be eligible for parole in October 2028.

Shark attack in Australia injures man who called himself ‘shark bait’

A surfer who previously described himself as "shark bait" was seriously injured after being attacked by a shark on Sunday, officials said.

Joel Mason, 36, was in the water near Scotts Beach, located about 300 miles north of Sydney, when he was hit by the shark while surfing in the morning, Sky News reported.

An ambulance service spokesperson told Sky News the man suffered a "severe leg injury" and suffered "a lot of blood loss."

Mason's father, Rob, told Nine News his son has surfed since he was 5 or 6 years old, and loves to surf by himself.

"He says he's shark bait, but he's prepared to take the risk — and he does," he said.

Mason was flown to a hospital in serious condition but was reported to be "extremely stoic" through the ordeal.

SHARK ATTACK KILLS YOUNG DOCTOR AMID RASH OF DANGEROUS ENCOUNTERS AT TOURIST HOTSPOT

Officials do not know what type of shark was involved, but the incident on Sunday was the eighth attack in the past three months.

The shark attack happened Sunday near Scotts Beach, located about 300 miles north of Sydney. (iStock)

Data from Sydney's Taronga Zoo shows that there have been 16 "unprovoked" incidents in 2018. Last month, a young doctor was killed in a shark attack at an island harbor on Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

Shark attack fatalities are still rare in Australia despite it having one of the highest rates of incidents in the world, according to Sky News.

Authorities have tried out measures such as aerial drones to track sharks in the water and "smart" drum lines that alert officials to their whereabouts.

Travis Fedschun is a reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @travfed

Famous musclebound kangaroo named Roger dead at 12: report

The adorable red male hit the headlines in 2015 when photos of his muscly body and enormous biceps circulated online.

Roger was so ripped he could crush metal buckets with his paws.

While his imposing height of 2m and ripped muscles impressed fans, they also warmed to his troubled story.

Roger was rescued by Chris Barnes, the owner of the Kangaroo Sanctuary in Alice Springs, Australia from his dead mum’s pouch.

He was nursed back to health and was able to grow into an imposing alpha male on the ranch.

The Sanctuary announced Roger’s death at the age of 12 in a Facebook post.

It wrote: “Farewell our darling Roger.

“Sadly Roger has passed away of old age. He lived a lovely long life and was loved by millions around the world.

“We will always love you and miss you Roger.”

The post has picked up nearly 2,000 comments and been shared over 1,300 times.

The alpha male characteristics of Roger would have been highly prized in the kangaroo world as fighting between them, especially males in common.

Dominant males will be able to get the pick of the females with smaller, weaker males seemingly being subservient.

Fights among males frequently breakout though, usually connected to a female or a drinking spot with the two animals engaging in ‘boxing’ as they fight for dominance.

Thousands commented online, expressing their sadness at the news.

Click for more from The Sun

Australia wants soccer player out of detention in Bangkok

CANBERRA, Australia – The Australian government has called for an Australian-based refugee soccer player to be immediately released from detention in Thailand.

Hakeem al-Araibi was detained in Bangkok in November on an Interpol warrant issued at the request of Bahrain.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne said Sunday she has raised the matter with her Thai counterpart, Don Pramudwinai, requesting that al-Araibi be allowed to fly back to Melbourne as soon as possible. He plays for a soccer team in the Victoria state league.

"Australia is concerned by the ongoing detention of Mr. Hakeem Ali al-Araibi and calls for his immediate return to Australia," Payne said. (He) was granted permanent residency by the Australian government in 2017 in recognition of his status as a refugee.

"Returning Mr. al-Araibi to Bahrain, from where he fled, would contravene his rights under international human rights law."

On Friday in Bangkok, al-Araibi was arrested ahead of a court ruling on whether he will be extradited to Bahrain, the homeland he fled four years ago.

Immigration Police chief Maj. Gen. Surachate Hakparn said al-Araibi, who was detained upon entry at Bangkok airport on Nov. 27, is being held legally following a request from Bahrain's government. He had traveled to Thailand on a holiday with his wife.

"The Australian consul got to visit him already," Surachate said. "We have provided nice halal meals for him three times a day. We are enforcing the law to international standards."

Al-Araibi has told the London-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, which is lobbying for his release, that he fears he will be tortured if sent back to Bahrain. The human rights organization Amnesty International says he is in serious danger of torture or other ill treatment.

Surachate said the issue will be dealt with by a Thai court. "For that, we need to wait for the court verdict. The law says he has the right to appeal the verdict. It's up to the court's consideration." He added that al-Araibi would be brought before a court next Tuesday.

Al-Araibi's detention has also drawn concern from FIFA.

He was sentenced in absentia in Bahrain in 2014 to 10 years in prison for allegedly vandalizing a police station, a charge he denies. He said he believed he was targeted for arrest because of his Shiite faith and because his brother was politically active in Bahrain. Bahrain has a Shiite majority but is ruled by a Sunni monarchy, and has a reputation for harsh repression since its failed "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011.

Al-Araibi, 25, has said he was tortured in Bahrain after his 2012 arrest and fled in 2014 to Australia. He had played for Bahrain's national soccer team and now plays for Melbourne's Pascoe Vale Football Club. He has been publicly critical of the Bahrain royal family's alleged involvement in sports scandals.

Al-Araibi told BBC Thai, in English via telephone from the Suanplu immigration detention center, that from last Friday he planned to go on a hunger strike because he would not get to meet his wife, who was released already, and that he wants to return to Australia.

"I want to go back to Australia because Australia has human rights while Bahrain doesn't," he said.

He said his future is "doomed" if he is sent to Bahrain.

"I don't know what will happen to me. I know that I did be tortured and forced to confess in things I've never done."

___

More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Police have ‘grave fears’ about British woman missing in New Zealand

The father of a British woman who was last seen entering a New Zealand hotel Saturday made a tearful plea for help Friday — but police said they have “grave fears” about the case.

Grace Millane, 22, was last seen entering the CityLife hotel in Auckland with a male, The Guardian reported. Scott Beard, the Auckland Police’s detective inspector, said he could not confirm if Millane left the hotel.

Beard said police questioned the man seen with her that night and have named him as a person of interest — but he has not been taken into custody. Beard said there has been no evidence of foul play so far.

AMERICAN PRIEST ACCUSED OF SEXUALLY ASSAULTING ALTAR BOYS ARRESTED IN THE PHILIPPINES

"It has now been six days since Grace was last seen,” he said. “At this point, we hold grave concerns for her safety.”

Beard would also not confirm if Millane used a dating app while visiting Auckland. He said police were working on reviewing hours of surveillance camera footage from around the city, which has proved crucial in tracking Millane’s movements. He also said investigators were looking into her credit card activity to see the last time she made a transaction.

Grace Millane, 22, was last seen on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018. (New Zealand Police)

The woman’s father, David Millane, told reporters Friday his daughter was on a yearlong trip abroad that began in Peru.

"She arrived here on the 20th of November, and has been bombarding us with numerous photographs and messages of her adventures," Millane said. "We are all extremely upset, and it's very difficult at this time to fully describe the range of emotions we are going through."

BODY FOUND IN COSTA RICA THOUGHT TO BE MISSING FLORIDA WOMAN

Millane called his daughter a “fun-loving, family-oriented daughter” and urged anyone with information to contact police.

Millane graduated from the University of Lincoln in September before beginning her trip. She was traveling alone when visiting New Zealand. Before she vanished, she was staying at the Base Backpackers hostel in Auckland.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Kathleen Joyce is a breaking/trending news producer for FoxNews.com. You can follow her at @Kathleen_Joyce8 on Twitter.

Man pleads guilty to ramming pedestrians in Australia

MELBOURNE, Australia – A man who deliberately rammed a car into pedestrians in a busy Australian city street, killing one and injuring another 16 people, pleaded guilty on Friday to multiple charges including murder.

Saeed Noori drove his mother's SUV into pedestrians on Dec. 21 last year on a sidewalk in downtown Melbourne, Australia's second-largest city.

The 33-year-old pleaded guilty in the Victoria state Supreme Court to the murder of 83-year-old man Antonios Crocaris, who died in a hospital eight days after he was struck by the car.

Noori faces a potential life sentence on that conviction. He also pleaded guilty to 11 counts of recklessly causing serious injury, which carries a potential maximum of 15 years in prison, and five counts of conduct endangering life, which carries a potential 10 years in prison.

His lawyers had previously told the court Noori suffers from schizophrenia and had likely not eaten or slept for days before the attack.

Noori came to Australia from Afghanistan as a refugee in 2004 and is now an Australian citizen.

He will return to court for a sentencing hearing on Feb. 12.

It was the second use of a car to assault pedestrians in downtown Melbourne in 2017. In January, six people were killed and more than 30 were injured when a car was driven up a pedestrian mall.

A Supreme Court jury last month convicted the driver James Gargasoulas on 33 charges including six counts of murder. Gargasoulas will be sentenced in January.

Police have not defined either as a terrorist attack, though other vehicle attacks around the world last year were allegedly linked to terrorism.

In October, a man drove a truck down a New York City bicycle path, killing eight people. The driver is accused of providing material support to the Islamic State group among other charges, including murder.

In August, 13 people were killed and more than 100 were wounded when a vehicle rammed into pedestrians in Barcelona, Spain. Two attacks in London last year were allegedly linked to Islamic extremists and another was seen as a reprisal attack outside a mosque, killing 13 people altogether.

Thailand arrests Bahrain refugee for possible extradition

BANGKOK – A soccer player who holds refugee status in Australia has been officially arrested ahead of a court ruling on whether he will be extradited to Bahrain, the homeland he fled four years ago, police in Thailand said Friday.

Immigration Police chief Maj. Gen. Surachate Hakparn said Hakeem Ali Mohamed Ali AlAraib, who was detained upon entry at Bangkok's airport on Nov. 27, is being held legally following a request from Bahrain's government. He had traveled to Thailand on a holiday with his wife.

"The Australian consul got to visit him already," Surachate said. "We have provided nice halal meals for him three times a day. We are enforcing the law to international standards."

AlAraib has told the London-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, which is lobbying for his release, that he fears he will be tortured if he is sent back to Bahrain. The human rights organization Amnesty International says he is in serious danger of torture or other ill treatment.

The international Convention Against Torture, to which Thailand became a party in 2007, does not allow nations to extradite people if there are substantial grounds for believing that they would be in danger of torture.

Surachate said the issue will be dealt with by a Thai court. "For that, we need to wait for the court verdict. The law says he has the right to appeal the verdict. It's up to the court's consideration."

AlAraib's detention has also drawn concern from FIFA, the world soccer governing body, and the Australian government.

He was sentenced in absentia in Bahrain in 2014 to 10 years in prison for allegedly vandalizing a police station, a charge he denies. He said he believed he was targeted for arrest because of his Shiite faith and because his brother was politically active in Bahrain. Bahrain has a Shiite majority but is ruled by a Sunni monarchy, and has a reputation for harsh repression since its failed "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011.

AlAraib, 25, has said he was tortured in Bahrain after his 2012 arrest and fled in 2014 to Australia, which granted him political asylum last year. He had played for Bahrain's national soccer team and now plays for Melbourne's Pascoe Vale Football Club. He has been publicly critical of Bahrain's royal family's alleged involvement in sports scandals.

"I appeal to the United Nations, individual states, FIFA, footballers, and all people, as my fate is now in danger and my future will soon be over," a statement issued late Thursday by the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy quoted AlAraib as saying.

"If I am deported to Bahrain, don't forget me, and if once I'm there you hear me saying things, don't believe me. I know what will happen to me and I know I will be tortured to confess things that I have never done. Please continue your fight to save me."

FIFA said in a statement Thursday that AlAraib should be returned to Australia "at the earliest possible moment."

Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne, attending a conference in Indonesia on Thursday, told reporters that her government was very concerned about AlAraib's situation and was pursuing the case through diplomatic channels.

"He has been visited by our officials in Thailand and we are grateful to the Thai authorities for the support that they are providing to him and we hope that we can see a swift decision that will ensure his future safety," she said.

Thailand sometimes disregards international legal conventions on refugees, with recent examples including ones from China and Turkey.