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 … Continue reading “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.

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.

Man accused of killing tourist appears in New Zealand court

WELLINGTON, New Zealand – A man accused of killing 22-year-old British tourist Grace Millane made his first appearance in a New Zealand court Monday.

The 26-year-old man stared at the ground while a judge addressed him during the brief appearance at the Auckland District Court. The man has not yet entered a plea on murder charges and the court has temporarily blocked his name from being published.

Millane's father, David Millane, traveled to New Zealand last week after his daughter vanished, and Judge Evangelos Thomas addressed him and other family members.

"I don't know what to say to you at this time, but your grief must be desperate," he said, according to television station Three. "We all hope justice will be fair and swift and ultimately bring you some peace."

The case has riveted people both in Britain and New Zealand.

Described by her father as fun-loving and family-oriented, Millane had been traveling in New Zealand as part of a planned yearlong trip abroad that began in Peru. She went missing Dec. 1 and failed to get in touch with her family on her birthday the next day, or on the days that followed, which alarmed them.

Before she vanished, Millane had been staying at a backpacker hostel in Auckland and left some of her belongings there. Detective Inspector Scott Beard said she met a man for a couple of hours in the evening before surveillance cameras showed them entering the CityLife hotel at about 9:40 p.m.

A week after Millane disappeared, police detained a man for questioning and later charged him with murder.

On Sunday, police found a body they believe is that of Millane in a forested area about 10 meters (33 feet) from the side of the road in the Waitakere Ranges near Auckland. Police believe Millane's body was taken to the area in a rental car that was later left in the town of Taupo.

The suspect's lawyer, Ian Brookie, applied on Monday for name suppression on the basis his client needed it for a fair trial, an argument that Judge Thomas rejected on the basis of open justice. Brookie appealed, triggering the man's name to be temporarily suppressed.

The man is scheduled to make his next court appearance Jan. 23.

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

New Zealand police find body they believe is British tourist

WELLINGTON, New Zealand – New Zealand police said Sunday they found a body they believe to be that of missing 22-year-old British tourist Grace Millane.

Police said the body was in a forested area about 10 meters (33 feet) from the side of the road in the Waitakere Ranges near Auckland.

Tourist Grace Millane has been missing since Dec. 1, and failed to contact her family on her birthday Dec. 2.

On Saturday, a 26-year-old man was charged with murder in her case after he was detained for questioning. He is due to make his first court appearance on Monday.

Millane was on a planned yearlong trip abroad that began in Peru. She arrived in New Zealand last month and was last seen entering a central Auckland hotel with a man on the evening of Dec. 1.

Detective Inspector Scott Beard told reporters near the crime scene in the Waitakare Ranges that police believe Millane's body was taken to the area in a rental car that was later left in the town of Taupo.

Police spent several hours searching the area, which they cordoned off and where they put up a tent, before making the announcement.

"This area was identified late last night as a location of interest as a result of our investigative work," Beard said. "I can now advise that a short time ago, we located a body, which we believe to be Grace. A formal identification process will now take place, however, based on the evidence we have gathered over the past few days, we expect that this is Grace."

Millane's father David Millane traveled from Britain to New Zealand last week.

"It is an unbearable time for the Millane family, and our hearts go out to them," Beard said.

Before she vanished, Millane had been staying at a backpacker hostel in Auckland, and she left some of her belongings there. Beard said she met a man for a couple of hours on the evening of Dec. 1 before surveillance cameras showed them entering the CityLife hotel at about 9:40 p.m.

Her family was surprised and worried when she didn't contact them on her birthday or get in touch over on the days that followed.

After arriving in New Zealand on Friday, David Millane spoke with media.

"Grace is a lovely, outgoing, fun-loving, family-oriented daughter," he said, adding that she was usually in touch with her family every day.

"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."

Missing British backpacker, 22, was murdered; man to be charged, police say

New Zealand police announced Saturday that they believe the British backpacker who has been missing for a week was murdered and they will charge a man they detained earlier in the day for questioning.

Grace Millane, 22, from Essex, was last seen entering the CityLife hotel in Auckland, New Zealand, with a 26-year-old man on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018. The University of Lincoln graduate was on a yearlong trip that began in Peru. She was traveling alone when visiting New Zealand and had been staying at the Base Backpackers hostel in Auckland.

The man Millane was seen with was taken into the central Auckland police station on Saturday afternoon for questioning. Police later said they planned to charge the man with Millane’s murder and he would be held in custody until his first court appearance on Monday. The body of the 22-year-old woman has not been found. Detective Inspector Scott Beard said authorities were not sure where Millane’s body was located but they’re determined to find it and return it to her family.

POLICE HAVE ‘GRAVE FEARS’ ABOUT BRITISH WOMAN MISSING IN NEW ZEALAND

“Grace is no longer alive; this is now a murder investigation,” Beard said.

Beard would also not confirm if Millane used a dating app while visiting Auckland.

Grace Millane’s father, David Millane, spoke to reporters on Friday, Dec. 7, 2018.  (AP)

Beard said he spoke to Millane’s father, David Millane, on Saturday and told him that they believed his daughter was killed. The father had traveled from the United Kingdom to New Zealand earlier in the week.

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

"I know that the thoughts of all New Zealanders will be with Grace's family tonight," Beard said.

The backpacker’s birthday was on Sunday, but she did not contact her family. David Millane spoke to reporters on Friday calling his daughter a “fun-loving, family-oriented daughter” and urged anyone with information to contact police.

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.

New Zealand police: 22-year-old British tourist was murdered

WELLINGTON, New Zealand – New Zealand police said Saturday that they believe a 22-year-old British tourist who has been missing for a week was murdered, and they will lay charges against a man they detained earlier in the day for questioning.

Grace Millane was on a planned yearlong trip abroad that began in Peru. She arrived in New Zealand last month and was last seen on the night of Dec. 1 entering a central Auckland hotel with a 26-year-old man.

Police said they brought that man into the central Auckland police station on Saturday afternoon for questioning. Later in the day, police said they planned to charge the man with Millane's murder and he would be held in custody until his first court appearance on Monday.

Detective Inspector Scott Beard said he told Millane's devastated father, David Millane, on Saturday that they believe Millane was killed. The father had traveled from Britain to New Zealand earlier in the week.

Beard said they don't know where Millane's body is located but they're determined to find it and return it to her family.

"I know that the thoughts of all New Zealanders will be with Grace's family tonight," Beard said.

Police have been conducting a scene examination at a unit in the hotel. Beard said they're also examining a vehicle and want to figure out where it has been driven over the past week.

Millane had been staying at a backpacker hostel in Auckland and left some of her belongings there. Beard said she met a man for a couple of hours on Saturday evening before surveillance cameras showed them entering the CityLife hotel at about 9:40 p.m.

Her birthday was on Sunday but she didn't contact her family.

Five days later, on Friday, David Millane arrived in New Zealand and spoke with media.

"Grace is a lovely, outgoing, fun-loving, family-oriented daughter," he said, adding that she was usually in touch with her family every day.

"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."

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.