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Trump Jerusalem move sparks Israeli-Palestinian clashes

Violence erupts as Palestinians protest against the shift in the US stance on the holy city.



At least 17 Palestinians have been wounded in clashes in the Gaza Strip and across the occupied West Bank, during protests against US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

One person is in a critical condition.

Mr Trump’s announcement – met with worldwide dismay – reversed decades of US policy on the sensitive issue.

Israel deployed hundreds of extra troops in the West Bank as Palestinians went on strike and took to the streets.

Protesters set tyres alight and threw stones, and Israeli troops fired tear gas, rubber bullets and live bullets.

In Gaza, according to Reuters news agency, Palestinians threw stones across the border fence at Israeli soldiers who responded with live fire.

Image copyright AFP Image caption This Palestinian man and Israeli soldier were photographed outside Damascus Gate in Jerusalem

Many of Washington’s closest allies have said they disagree with the move, and both the UN Security Council and the Arab League will meet in the coming days to decide their response.

There are fears the announcement could lead to a renewed outbreak of violence. The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas has already called for a new intifada, or uprising.

Why did Trump reverse US policy?

The US president said on Wednesday that he had “determined it is time to officially recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel”.

“I’ve judged this course of action to be in the best interests of the United States of America and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians,” he said.

He said he was directing the US state department to begin preparations to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionAnalysis: Breaking down what Mr Trump said and what it means for peace

Despite warnings of regional unrest over any such move, the decision fulfils a campaign promise and appeals to Mr Trump’s right-wing base.

Recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was “nothing more or less than a recognition of reality”, he added. “It is also the right thing to do.”

Mr Trump said the US would support a two-state solution – shorthand for a final settlement that would see the creation of an independent Palestinian state within pre-1967 ceasefire lines in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, living peacefully alongside Israel – “if agreed to by both sides”.

The president also refrained from using Israel’s description of Jerusalem as its “eternal and undivided capital”. The Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of any future Palestinian state.

What has been the reaction?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was profoundly grateful to Mr Trump, who had “bound himself forever with the history of the capital”.

He also said Israel was “in touch with other countries to follow suit. I have no doubt other embassies will move to Jerusalem – the time has come”. He did not name any of these countries, although the Philippines and the Czech Republic have been mentioned in Israeli media.

The mood has been very different on the Palestinian side.

Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas which runs the Gaza Strip, has called for a “day of rage” on Friday and said it should “be the first day of the intifada against the occupier”.

“We have given instructions to all Hamas members and to all its wings to be fully ready for any new instructions or orders that may be given to confront this strategic danger,” he said in a speech in Gaza.

Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionHamas leader Ismail Haniya said the announcement was a “declaration of war”

Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ rival Fatah movement is seeking to protest through diplomatic means, by filing a complaint to the UN Security Council and pushing for a strong stance by the Arab League.

“We are going to declare the United States disqualified as co-sponsor of any peace process or political process,” spokesman Dr Nasser Al-Kidwa said. “In our mind, it has lost its ability to do or perform any efforts in this regard.”

There has also been widespread condemnation across the Arab and wider Muslim world, with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warning Mr Trump that he was “throwing the region into a ring of fire”.

The leaders of the UK, France and Europe have all said they disagree with the US announcement. French President Emmanuel Macron said it contravened international law and UN Security Council resolutions.

The EU’s top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, said the move had “the potential to send us backwards to even darker times than the ones we are already living in”.

Why is the announcement significant?

Jerusalem is of huge importance to both Israel and the Palestinians. It contains sites sacred to the three major monotheistic faiths – Judaism, Islam and Christianity.

Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem has never been recognised internationally, and all countries maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv.

East Jerusalem, which includes the Old City, was annexed by Israel after the Six Day War of 1967, but before now it has not been internationally recognised as part of Israel.

According to the 1993 Israel-Palestinian peace accords, the final status of Jerusalem is meant to be discussed in the latter stages of peace talks.

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Bitcoin trading starts on the huge CME exchange

The Chicago-based CME exchange begins Bitcoin trading for investors.




Bitcoin has moved another step towards mainstream investing with the start of trading on the huge Chicago Mercantile Exchange financial futures market.

It comes as the value of the digital currency approached $20,000 on Sunday, before drifting below $19,000.

Last week, Chicago’s CBOE exchange began Bitcoin futures trading – bets on a future price – but CME is far bigger.

On Sunday, the chairman of UBS bank and former Bundesbank head Axel Weber joined the chorus of Bitcoin warnings.

“Bitcoin is not money,” he said in an interview, and urged regulators to intervene.

Meanwhile the French finance minister, Bruno Le Maire, has called for the issue to be discussed at the G20 summit of major economies in April.

“There is evidently a risk of speculation. We need to consider and examine this and see how… with all the other G20 members we can regulate bitcoin”, Mr Maire told the French news channel LCI.

Bitcoin prices have surged this year: a single bitcoin stood at less than $1,000 in January and hit a record $19,783 on Sunday, according to Coindesk.

Analysts believe CME’s entry into the Bitcoin market will generate more interest in the crypto-currency, possibly pushing the price higher.

The CBOE futures contract is based on a closing price of Bitcoin from the Gemini exchange, which is owned and operated by virtual currency entrepreneurs and brothers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss.

However, the CME contract price will be culled from multiple exchanges, potentially offering investors more transparency about the value.

“The CME [futures] contract is based on a broader array of exchanges,” said Matt Osborne, chief investment officer of Altegris, which has $2.5bn in alternative investments.

“So there is a possibility that the CME contract may generate more interest and more volume.

“Volumes are going to slowly increase as professional traders get comfortable with the price action and more importantly get comfortable with the volatility.”

Institutional investors are prohibited from buying Bitcoin directly because the market is unregulated, but they can buy futures contracts.

What are futures?

Futures are contracts that allow investors to bet on the price of something at a future date.

Investors can now bet on Bitcoin rising or falling in price without actually owning them.

Futures are typically based on the price of a real commodity – such as oil.

One of the controversial aspects of Bitcoin is that some do not see it as a “thing”. Although it is called a currency, it can be argued it is an asset, or commodity, without any actual use or real assessable value.

CBOE Bitcoin futures surged nearly 20% on their debut last Monday, and more than 4,000 contracts changed hands by the end of the day.

But as interest in the digital currency increases, so do the warnings.

Mr Weber told the Swiss Sunday newspaper that investors should resist jumping on the Bitcoin bandwagon, saying the bubble would inevitably burst.

‘Not sustainable’

He said Bitcoin does not fulfil the three main functions of money because, in his view: it is not an effective means of payment; it is not a good measure of value (since prices are not written in Bitcoin); and it is not an effective way to store value, since it is inherently unstable.

UBS advises clients against investing in the virtual currency, he said, because the bank does “not consider it valuable and not sustainable”.

To protect investors who do not take the bank’s advice, “regulators are needed,” Mr Weber said.

However, many people say financial regulation is difficult, if not impossible, because transparency was not part of Bitcoin’s creation.

Bitcoin was set up in 2008 by an individual or group calling themselves Satoshi Nakamoto, and was the first digital currency to successfully use cryptography to keep transactions secure and hidden.

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South Africa’s ANC party leadership vote: Counting under way

Delegates are selecting a replacement for Jacob Zuma as head of South Africa’s ruling party.




Votes are being counted in a leadership election for South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC), currently run by President Jacob Zuma.

About 5,000 delegates cast their votes in a bitterly fought race between Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and ex-minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

Emotions have run high, with delegates shouting each other down as they raised objections over voting rules.

The ANC has governed South Africa since it attained democracy 23 years ago.

The eventual winner will be in a strong position to become national president after elections in 2019.

But the leadership battle has caused fierce political infighting, raising fears the party may split before then.

Mr Zuma has warned the party is under threat and at a “crossroads”.

Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionWhat advice should South Africa’s ruling party take on board?

Thousands of delegates have attended the four-day ANC elective conference at the Expo Centre in Johannesburg.

Many there are saying there could be just the smallest of margins between winning and losing when the results come in, says the BBC’s Lebo Diseko at the conference.

The leadership contest is conducted in secret, and legal challenges are possible.

The result was originally expected on Sunday.

Image copyright AFP Image caption There was a fractious atmosphere as delegates disputed voting procedures

But proceedings were delayed as claims that bogus delegates had been accredited and real delegates barred were resolved.

A BBC correspondent there said voting on Sunday was brought to a stop with what seemed like most of the room singing in support for Ms Dlamini-Zuma, who is President Zuma’s ex-wife.

Unlike on Saturday, it was difficult to hear any counter singing in support of Mr Ramaphosa.

The party had said that anyone singing “divisive” songs would be thrown out, but there was little sign of that.

President Zuma, who has been in power since 2009, is expected to remain in power until the 2019 national elections. The country limits presidents to two five-year terms.

The 75-year-old has been at the heart of much of the controversy surrounding the ANC party. He currently faces numerous corruption allegations but denies any wrongdoing, having already survived several votes of no confidence in parliament during is presidency.

He is backing his 68-year-old former wife, Ms Dlamini-Zuma, a veteran politician in her own right, who has been critical of the enduring power of white-owned businesses. They have been divorced for almost 20 years and had four children together.

A former leader of the women’s wing of the ANC, Ms Dlamini-Zuma has served as foreign, home and health minister in government.

Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionThe ANC was the party of Nelson Mandela but have people lost faith under Jacob Zuma?

Her economic agenda is very different to main opponent, the country’s deputy president, Cyril Ramaphosa, who is one of the country’s wealthiest men and a former leading trade unionist.

Mr Ramaphosa, 65, has spoken out strongly against state corruption and has the backing of the business community.

Recent news that he had a modest lead in the polls was quickly reflected by a rise in the financial markets.

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Mr Zuma is expected to stay as President until the 2019 election, despite the vote

In his final speech as party leader at Saturday’s conference opening, Mr Zuma denounced the party’s “petty squabbling” during the leadership battle.

Last year’s disappointing results for the ANC in local elections, he said, “were a stark reminder that our people are not happy with the state of the ANC”.

In the speech he asserted that “theft and corruption” were as prominent in the private sector as they are in government. He added that “being black and successful is being made synonymous to being corrupt”.

He lashed out at the media, which he said was not “impartial and fair”. He also targeted the judiciary, arguing that the courts should have no role in deciding internal party matters.

The party has overwhelmingly won every victory since the country transitioned to democracy in 1994 under Nelson Mandela, and the end of white-minority rule. But it polled only 54% in last year’s local elections, its worst result since taking power.

The BBC’s Andrew Harding says a question remains whether the ANC is in terminal decline, and what that might mean for South Africa’s stability and its future.

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Jay-Z brings cancer survivor on stage

The rapper halts his show in California after spotting a fan’s sign in the audience.




Jay-Z halted his show in California on Saturday to bring a young fan onstage after learning she had beaten cancer not once, but twice.

The rapper paused to read Christina Cruz’s home-made sign, which said: “I Beat Cancer 2X 2 C U! I LOVE U!!! SELFIE OR HUG?”

“You beat cancer twice?” the star said. “I gotta give you at least a hug.”

He then brought the woman up on stage and posed for several photos with her, as the crowd cheered.

“This is exactly who my message was for,” he told the audience.

Throughout the weekend, Christina took to social media to recount the “best night” of her life.

Image copyright Christina Cruz / Instagram Image caption The pair embraced several times before Jay-Z resumed his concert

“I can’t believe he pulled me on stage and I got to hug him not once but twice!” she said on her Instagram account, which has since been made private.

“Truly a dream come true!! Thank you Jay-Z!”

The star is nearing the end of his tour, which has criss-crossed the US since October.

His latest album, 4:44 was recently nominated for eight Grammys, including album of the year, record of the year and song of the year, for the title track.

Introducing that track in California, the star called it “the most uncomfortable song I’ve ever written”.

The lyrics address his infidelity – which also informed his wife Beyonce’s last album, Lemonade.

“Look, I apologise, often womanise,” he raps on the track. “Took for my child to be born, see through a woman’s eyes.”

After playing the song at the Oakland arena on Saturday, the New York native told the audience: “I swear Oakland is just like Brooklyn, I feel at home here.”

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