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By Andrea Mitchell

JERUSALEM — President Donald Trump is again making a major Middle East policy change on Twitter — announcing that the U.S. is recognizing Israel’s sovereignty of the Golan Heights, along the contested border with Syria — a huge military and political prize for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu only three weeks before his tough re-election bid.

Trump tweeted that it is “of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!”

The president’s enthusiasm was topped by an ebullient Netanyahu, with the Israeli leader calling the White House to thank Trump while the prime minister was hosting Secretary of State Pompeo for dinner at his Jerusalem residence. Netanyahu told reporters, “President Trump has just made history. I called him. I thanked him on behalf of the people of Israel. He did it again!…The message that President Trump has given the world is that America stands by Israel.”

Netanyahu ended with a hug for Pompeo, whom the prime minister pressed this week for the policy change. Pompeo has been brushing off suggestions of any connection between U.S support for the Israeli leader’s foreign policy goals and his re-election bid, but the Golan move is expected to be wildly popular across a broad swath of Israelis — left, right and center.

The Golan Heights has been a major military concern for Israel over the last year as Syrian regime forces have retaken control of some of the territory, bringing with them Iranian-backed militants. But Trump’s unilateral decision to recognize Israel’s right to the area violates a long-standing U.N. resolution and international law, which held that sovereignty should eventually be resolved through negotiations.

In an interview on Fox Business Network with Maria Bartiromo, Trump denied that his position on the Golan Heights had anything to do with the upcoming Israeli election.

“I wouldn’t even know about that,” Trump said. “I have no idea — I hear he’s doing okay, I don’t know if he’s doing great right now, but I hear he’s doing okay. But I would imagine the other side, whoever’s against him, is also in favor of what I just did. Every president has said, ‘Do that.’ I’m the one that gets it done.”

But the advantage for Israel’s embattled prime minister, who is facing a poplar former Army chief of staff, Benny Gantz, in the April 9 election, are unmistakable.

Netanyahu was elated as he cited the White House decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, recognizing the contested city as Israel’s capital; withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal; and, now, awarding Israel sole custody — in the U.S. view — of the Golan Heights.

Earlier, Pompeo made his first visit to the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, formerly a consulate but now being expanded. He also was the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Israel’s sacred Western Wall alongside Netanyahu, placing a prayer in the cracks of the wall as is Jewish tradition. It signified further acceptance of Israel’s control of the disputed city, containing holy sites of Jewish, Christian and Muslim religions.

They even went to an underground synagogue, built under the Muslim quarter within ancient Roman tunnels.

In response to Trump’s Golan Heights decision, Palestinian official Saeb Erekat tweeted, “What shall tomorrow bring? Certain destabilization and bloodshed in our region.”

Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote that he strongly disagreed with Trump, and that the move would prevent Arab governments from making peace with Israel.

Next week, Netanyahu gets another boost from Trump, an invitation to the White House, only two weeks before the election.



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Boris Johnson warned Speaker Bercow to help MPs deliver no confidence vote – expert claim

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BORIS JOHNSON has been warned Speaker of the House John Bercow could “facilitate” requests for a confidence vote in his leadership before Parliament goes into recess later this week.

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Everything you need to know

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Four months after he sent his report on Russian interference in the 2016 election and the Trump campaign to Attorney General William Barr, former special counsel Robert Mueller will testify publicly Wednesday about what his investigators did — and didn’t — find.

Here’s a look at how and when to watch, and what to expect:

Mueller hearing time

During his time as FBI chief and as special counsel, the former Marine had a reputation as an early riser who would be at work before 7 am.

His hearings won’t start that early, but they are early for Congress — he is set to begin his testimony promptly at 8:30 am before the House Judiciary Committee.

Hearing schedule

He’s expected to testify between 8:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. to Judiciary, and then go before a second committee, House Intelligence, at noon for approximately two hours.

Who will be doing the questioning?

The Judiciary Committee has 41 members and the Intelligence Committee has 22. While all of the Intelligence committee members are expected to get five minutes to ask questions, it is likely that some members of the larger Judiciary panel will get less time for questioning.

Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., is expected to make a brief opening statement, as is the panel’s ranking Republican, Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia. Intelligence chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and that committee’s ranking Republican, Schiff’s fellow Californian Rep. Devin Nunes, will each make five-minute opening statements at the Intel hearing.

Will Mueller make an opening statement?

A spokesman for Mueller said Monday he will make a brief opening statement before both committees before giving them a lengthy official statement — his 448-page report on Russian interference.

Will Congress get the unredacted report?

Not on Wednesday. The version of the report Mueller is submitting for the official record will have the same number of redactions that were made by the Attorney General before the document became public — over 900 of them.

What is Mueller expected to say?

He has said his report “speaks for itself” and that he won’t provide any information “beyond what is already public.”

Democrats say they aren’t expecting any new bombshells, but they believe Mueller’s testimony will be an eye-opener for the American public. Nadler told “Fox News Sunday” the report “presents very substantial evidence” that President Donald Trump “is guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Schiff said he wants Mueller to bring his report “to life.”

At the Aspen Security Conference on Saturday, Schiff told NBC’s Kristen Welker that it could be worthwhile to have Mueller read some portions of the report out loud.

“I do think there’s value in particular passages in the report to have the special counsel literally speak it in his own words,” Schiff said.

Republicans are expected to press Mueller on the political affiliations of some of his prosecutors, who Trump has repeatedly derided as “angry Democrats.” They’re also expected to focus on the report’s bottom line — that there wasn’t enough evidence to prove the Trump campaign conspired with the Russian government in its interference in the 2016 election.

Trump has said the report concluded there was “no collusion” and ” no obstruction,” but Democratic lawmakers plan to highlight at least five instances of what they say is obstruction of justice from the report, staffers told NBC News.

“What’s important is there is truly shocking evidence of criminal misconduct by the president — not once but again and again and again — that would result in any other American being criminally charged in a multiple count indictment,” one Democrat staffer said last week.

Where can I watch the hearings?

NBC News will air a special report beginning at 8:15 a.m. ET that will continue into the afternoon through both sessions. On MSNBC, live coverage will start at 6 a.m. ET. The testimony will also stream live on NBC News NOW, NBCNews.com, MSNBC.com, YouTube, and other streaming platforms beginning at 8:30 a.m. ET.

Will Trump watch?

He said on Friday he would not, but acknowledged to reporters at the White House on Monday he would “probably” watch a little.



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Boris, sign him up! Jacob Rees-Mogg offers to join new Cabinet – ‘I will do anything’

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JACOB REES-MOGG has vowed to “do anything” to help incoming Prime Minister Boris Johnson after the former London Mayor secured a landslide victory over Jeremy Hunt in the Tory leadership contest.

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