SINCE THE RAPTURE OCCURS BEFORE THE FUTURE 7 YR TREATY IS SIGNED, I WONT BE AROUND TO HAVE THE ACTUAL TREATY SIGNING. BUT UNTIL THEN THIS SITE IS DEDICATED TO THE BEGININGS OF THE ISRAELI / ARAB PEACE PROCESS. AND AS CLOSE TO THE 7 YEAR SIGNING THAT WE GET BEFORE THE RAPTURE OF THE SAVED TO HEAVEN. UNTIL WE MEET JESUS IN THE CLOUDS BODILY, AND COME TO EARTH 7 YRS LATER.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

AFTER UNSC VOTE, RUSSIA OFFERS TO REPLACE US AS HONEST MIDEAST MEDIATOR.

MIGRATING BIRDS IN ISRAEL EATS HUMANS FLESH FOR COMING AGAINST ISRAEL-JERUSALEM

EZEKIEL 39:11-12,18
11 And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will give unto Gog (RUSSIA/ARAB/MUSLIMS) a place there of graves in Israel, the valley of the passengers (EAST OF THE DEAD SEA IN JORDAN VALLEY) on the east of the sea: and it shall stop the noses of the passengers: and there shall they bury Gog (RUSSIAN) and all his multitude:(ARAB/MUSLIM HORDE) and they shall call it The valley of Hamongog.(BURIEL SITE OF THE 300 MILLION,RUSSIAN/ARAB/MUSLIMS)
12 And seven months shall the house of Israel be burying of them, that they may cleanse the land.(OF ISRAEL)
16 And also the name of the city shall be Hamonah. Thus shall they cleanse the land.(OF THE ISRAEL-GOD HATERS)

EZEKIEL 39:17-21
17  And, thou son of man, thus saith the Lord GOD; Speak unto every feathered fowl, and to every beast of the field, Assemble yourselves, and come; gather yourselves on every side to my sacrifice that I do sacrifice for you, even a great sacrifice upon the mountains of Israel, that ye may eat flesh, and drink blood.(OF RUSSIAN/ISLAMIC HORDES AGAINST ISRAEL)
18  Ye shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth, of rams, of lambs, and of goats, of bullocks, all of them fatlings of Bashan.
19  And ye shall eat fat till ye be full, and drink blood till ye be drunken, of my sacrifice which I have sacrificed for you.
20  Thus ye shall be filled at my table with horses and chariots, with mighty men, and with all men of war, saith the Lord GOD.
21  And I will set my glory among the heathen, and all the heathen shall see my judgment that I have executed, and my hand that I have laid upon them.
22  So the house of Israel shall know that I am the LORD their God from that day and forward.

REVELATION 19:17-18
17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God;(AGAINST ALL NATIONS ARMIES THAT COME AGAINST JERUSALEM AND ISRAEL)
18 That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great.

EZEKIEL 38:1-7
1 And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
2 Son of man, set thy face against Gog,(RULER) the land of Magog,(RUSSIA) the chief prince of Meshech (MOSCOW) and Tubal,(TOBOLSK) and prophesy against him,
3 And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog,(LEADER OF RUSSIA) the chief prince of Meshech(MOSCOW) and Tubal:TOBOLSK)
4 And I (GOD) will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws,(GOD FORCES THE RUSSIA-MUSLIMS TO MARCH) and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed with all sorts of armour, even a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords:
5 Persia,(IRAN,IRAQ) Ethiopia, and Libya with them; all of them with shield and helmet:
6 Gomer,(GERMANY) and all his bands; the house of Togarmah (TURKEY) of the north quarters, and all his bands: and many people with thee.(AFRICAN MUSLIMS,SUDAN,TUNESIA ETC)
7 Be thou prepared, and prepare for thyself, thou, and all thy company that are assembled unto thee, and be thou a guard unto them.

EZEKIEL 39:1-8
1 Therefore, thou son of man, prophesy against Gog,(LEADER OF RUSSIA) and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech (MOSCOW) and Tubal: (TUBOLSK)
2 And I will turn thee back,(RUSSIA-ARAB MUSLIM ISRAEL HATERS) and leave but the sixth part of thee,(5/6TH OR 300 MILLION DEAD RUSSIAN/ARAB/MUSLIMS I BELIEVE) and will cause thee to come up from the north parts,(RUSSIA) and will bring thee upon the mountains of Israel:
3 And I will smite thy bow out of thy left hand, and will cause thine arrows to fall out of thy right hand.
4 Thou shalt fall upon the mountains of Israel, thou, and all thy bands,( ARABS) and the people that is with thee: I will give thee unto the ravenous birds of every sort, and to the beasts of the field to be devoured.
5 Thou shalt fall upon the open field: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD.
6 And I will send a fire on Magog,(NUCLEAR ATOMIC BOMB) and among them that dwell carelessly in the isles: and they shall know that I am the LORD.
7 So will I make my holy name known in the midst of my people Israel; and I will not let them pollute my holy name any more: and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel.
8 Behold, it is come, and it is done, saith the Lord GOD; this is the day whereof I have spoken.

After UNSC vote, Russia offers to replace US as ‘honest’ Mideast mediator-Turkey and UK criticize Washington's actions regarding Jerusalem, while Jewish groups mostly praise Trump administration's stance-By AP and TOI staff-DEC 19,17

Russia on Monday said it was ready to become “an honest mediator” between the Israelis and Palestinians, a role the United States has played for years, after a vote at the UN Security Council showed the depth of global opposition to US recognition of Jerusalem.Washington vetoed a resolution supported by the 14 other Council members that would have required President Donald Trump to rescind his declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.Russia’s deputy UN ambassador Vladimir Safronkov said it was becoming more important to move “as quickly as possible towards direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.” He reiterated Russia’s proposal to hold a summit between the Palestinian and Israeli leaders.“We are ready to become an honest mediator here,” he said.He also reiterated Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s call for the Security Council to conduct “a comprehensive review of the situation in the Middle East.”The United States had been certain to veto the Egyptian-sponsored resolution, but its Arab supporters wanted the vote to demonstrate that countries everywhere and even many US allies such as Britain, France and Japan are against Trump’s action.Turkey criticized the US veto, saying Washington had lost its “impartiality” in the Middle East.A Turkish Foreign Ministry statement said the fact that the resolution was approved by the 14 other Security Council members was “the most concrete indication of the illegitimacy” of the US decision on Jerusalem. The statement added that the veto had left the UN Security Council “in a state of failure” and said Turkey would continue to stand by the “Palestinian state and its people.”British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said “The status of Jerusalem should be determined through a negotiated settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and should ultimately be the shared capital of the Israeli and Palestinian states.”The Palestinians immediately announced that they would seek a resolution with similar demands in the 193-member General Assembly, where there are no vetoes. But unlike the Security Council, the assembly’s resolutions are not legally binding.Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour told reporters after meeting with the General Assembly president that he expected a vote this week. He said he hoped for “overwhelming support.”Several Jewish groups praised Washington’s veto.The Republican Jewish Coalition thanked the administration for making a “stand for truth, justice, and peace.” The Orthodox Union said it “applauds” the US “standing by its ally.”Meanwhile the liberal J Street was less effusive.“Israel’s capital is in Jerusalem and it should be internationally recognized as such in the context of an agreed two-state solution,” the group said. “The administration’s move has only made that solution harder to achieve.”US Ambassador Nikki Haley called the Security Council resolution “an insult” that won’t be forgotten, saying the United Nations forced the US to cast a veto simply because of its right to decide where to put its embassy. She said the veto — the first cast by the US in more than six years — was done “in defense of American sovereignty and in defense of America’s role in the Middle East peace process.”Haley, explaining the US veto, castigated the response to the US president’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital: “The President took great care not to prejudge final status negotiations in any way, including the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem. That remains a subject to be negotiated only by the parties. That position is fully in line with the previous Security Council resolutions, ” she noted.“The President was also careful to state that we support the status quo regarding Jerusalem’s holy sites, and we support a two-state solution if that’s what the parties agree to. Again, these positions are fully consistent with the previous Security Council resolutions. It is highly regrettable that some are trying to distort the President’s position to serve their own agendas.”Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked the US for using its veto in a video posted to Facebook.He said Haley “lit a candle of truth” and dispelled “lies.”Netanyahu compared Haley to the Maccabees, Jewish warriors commemorated during the current Jewish holiday of Hannukah for revolting against Hellenic rulers, rededicating the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and establishing a Jewish Kingdom in Judea.In Netanyahu’s words, “One defeated the many, truth defeated lies.”The vetoed resolution would have demanded that all countries comply with 10 resolutions on Jerusalem, dating back to 1967, including requirements that the city’s final status be decided in direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.It would also have affirmed that “any decisions and actions which purport to have altered, the character, status or demographic composition of the holy city of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded.”Trump broke with decades of US neutrality on Jerusalem on December 6 when he declared that the United States recognizes the city as Israel’s capital and will move its embassy there. Trump insisted that after repeated peace failures it was past time for a new approach, saying his decision was merely based on reality.Abbas, in some of his sharpest rhetoric since Trump’s announcement, reiterated in public comments to senior Palestinian officials Monday that he will no longer accept the US as a Mideast mediator.He said “a crazy person wouldn’t accept” that role for Washington after Trump’s action.The status of Jerusalem has been a central issue in the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Trump’s announcement was widely perceived as taking the side of Israel. It countered an international consensus that Jerusalem’s status should be decided in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, who claim East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.Trump’s announcement triggered denunciations and demonstrations around the world. Abbas’s Fatah movement and other groups organized mass protests while its rival, the Gaza-based Hamas, has called for a third violent uprising against Israel.Trump has been working on a new Mideast peace plan and says he remains committed to brokering a deal, despite the Jerusalem move.

LUKE 21:28-29
28 And when these things begin to come to pass,(ALL THE PROPHECY SIGNS FROM THE BIBLE) then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption (RAPTURE) draweth nigh.
29 And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree,(ISRAEL) and all the trees;(ALL INDEPENDENT COUNTRIES)
30 When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand.(ISRAEL LITERALLY BECAME AND INDEPENDENT COUNTRY JUST BEFORE SUMMER IN MAY 14,1948.)

JOEL 2:3,30
3 A fire devoureth (ATOMIC BOMB) before them;(RUSSIAN-ARAB-MUSLIM ARMIES AGAINST ISRAEL) and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them.
30 And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.(ATOMIC BOMB AFFECT)

ZECHARIAH 14:12-13
12 And this shall be the plague wherewith the LORD will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet,(DISOLVED FROM ATOMIC BOMB) and their eyes shall consume away in their holes,(DISOLVED FROM ATOMIC BOMB) and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth.(DISOLVED FROM ATOMIC BOMB)(BECAUSE NUKES HAVE BEEN USED ON ISRAELS ENEMIES)(GOD PROTECTS ISRAEL AND ALWAYS WILL)
13 And it shall come to pass in that day, that a great tumult from the LORD shall be among them; and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbour, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbour.(1/2-3 BILLION DIE IN WW3)(THIS IS AN ATOMIC BOMB EFFECT)

EZEKIEL 20:47
47 And say to the forest of the south, Hear the word of the LORD; Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will kindle a fire in thee, and it shall devour every green tree in thee, and every dry tree: the flaming flame shall not be quenched, and all faces from the south to the north shall be burned therein.

ZEPHANIAH 1:18
18 Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD'S wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land.

MALACHI 4:1
1 For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven;(FROM ATOMIC BOMBS) and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.

And here are the bounderies of the land that Israel will inherit either through war or peace or God in the future. God says its Israels land and only Israels land. They will have every inch God promised them of this land in the future.
Egypt east of the Nile River, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, The southern part of Turkey and the Western Half of Iraq west of the Euphrates. Gen 13:14-15, Psm 105:9,11, Gen 15:18, Exe 23:31, Num 34:1-12, Josh 1:4.ALL THIS LAND ISRAEL WILL DEFINATELY OWN IN THE FUTURE, ITS ISRAELS NOT ISHMAELS LAND.12 TRIBES INHERIT LAND IN THE FUTURE

Pence’s trip to Israel postponed to mid-January for US tax vote-At last minute, fears of procedural delays in Congress prompt White House to delay vice president's visit to region to next month-By Eric Cortellessa and AFP-TOI-DEC 19,17

WASHINGTON — US Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to Israel scheduled for this week has been delayed until an unknown date in mid-January, the White House announced Monday evening, as the Trump administration seeks to push through historic tax reform legislation.The delay will allow Pence to remain in Washington in case he needs to break a tie vote in the Senate over President Donald Trump’s tax reforms.“The largest tax cut in American history is a landmark accomplishment for President Trump and a relief to millions of hardworking Americans,” the vice president’s press secretary, Alyssa Farah, said in a statement. “The Vice President is committed to seeing the tax cut through to the finish line. The Vice President looks forward to traveling to Egypt and Israel in January.”Another administration official told The Times of Israel that because the vote could possibly “take place shortly before midnight on Wednesday, it was not practically possible for [Pence] to travel this week.”Pence’s visit had already been postponed for several days due to attempts to pass the tax-cutting bill through the US Congress. He had originally been set to arrive on Sunday, but then delayed his arrival.Taking into account the possibility that the vote could delay him another day, the White House decided his trip was coming at an inopportune time — and that more could be accomplished if he came next month.“The tax vote is still in very good shape, but we don’t want to take any chances whatsoever,” said a senior administration official.Senator John McCain’s return home to Arizona to fight cancer has left Republicans with a razor thin margin to push the legislation over the finishing line.If the vote were delayed, Pence would have arrived in Egypt late on Thursday night and then would have run up against Shabbat and Christmas for his visit to Israel, the official said. “Therefore, to get the most out of the trip, the VP will now be traveling in mid-January.”Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s top envoy trying to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians, is still on his way to the region as part of the administration’s continued push to clinch an accord.Officials denied that Pence’s decision was motivated by a wave of deadly protests in the wake of Trump’s deeply controversial decision to declare Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.“This is all about the largest tax cut in American history and having the vice president and the full team here,” the official said.“It’s an odd case to make given we are going to be there in two or three weeks,” a second senior White House official said.Breaking with decades of US policy, Trump also said on December 6 that he would move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.That prompted a string of protests and Palestinian, Muslim and Coptic leaders had cancelled meetings with the vice president, who had already trimmed the trip by three days.Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas’s Fatah faction had called for a massive demonstration to protest against Pence’s visit.In his address, Trump insisted that after repeated failures to achieve peace, a new approach was needed, and said the move to recognize Jerusalem as the seat of Israel’s government was merely based on reality. He stressed that he was not specifying the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in the city, and called for no change in the status quo at the city’s holy sites.The US on Monday vetoed a draft UN resolution rejecting Trump’s decision, after all 14 other Security Council members backed the measure. The text was introduced by Egypt, where Pence was scheduled to arrive Wednesday.Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

Western Wall rabbi said to rule out Pence presser at holy site-Report says Shmuel Rabinowitz denied request citing religious objections, but privately feared potential for violence-By Alexander Fulbright-DEC 19,17

The chief rabbi of the Western Wall reportedly rejected an American request for US Vice President Mike Pence to hold a press conference at the Jerusalem holy site during his trip to Israel later this week.While making preparations for the visit, US diplomats inquired last week about holding a press conference for reporters accompanying Pence at either the Western Wall Plaza or Western Wall Tunnels, Channel 10 reported Monday.Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz rejected the request, however, arguing it would be inappropriate to hold a press conference at the religious site. According to the report, Rabinowitz said in private that his main concern was the threat of renewed violence due to the press conference likely conveying a political message, coming exactly two weeks after US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.The report said the US is now searching for an alternative site nearby in which to hold the press conference.Pence is set to land in Israel on Wednesday and while here is scheduled to light a Hannukah menorah at the Western Wall, which stands adjacent to the Temple Mount, the holiest place in Judaism and site of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest shrine.Hebrew media reports on Friday said Pence would visit the Wall in his role as vice president and not in a private capacity, as Trump did in May. Trump was the first ever US president to visit the site while in office.After Trump’s December 6 announcement, in which the US president stressed the city’s borders should be determined in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and access to holy sites shouldn’t be impeded, a senior administration official told reporters on Friday that the White House “envisions” the Western Wall will remain part of Israel under any accord with the Palestinians.“We cannot envision any situation under which the Western Wall would not be part of Israel,” the official said. “But as the president said [in his speech on Jerusalem], the specific boundaries of sovereignty of Israel are going to be part of the final status agreement.”Furthermore, the official added, “We note that we cannot imagine Israel would sign a peace agreement that didn’t include the Western Wall.”The Western Wall, along with the rest of the Old City, lies in East Jerusalem, which Israel captured from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War. Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, while Israel maintains the entire city is its undivided capital.Trump’s declaration, in which he also said he would move the US embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, has infuriated the Palestinians, with the Palestinian Authority refusing to meet with Pence during his trip to the region.PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party has called for a day of rage to coincide with Pence’s visit.On Monday the US vetoed a UN Security Council resolution condemning its recognition of Jerusalem. An Abbas spokesman called the veto “unacceptable” and a threat to international stability.The US was the only country in the Security Council to vote against the measure. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Trump and America’s envoy to the UN Nikki Haley for vetoing the resolution, saying “truth defeated lies.”

Full text of Nikki Haley’s 2 speeches at UN Security Council debate on Jerusalem-'Today, for acknowledging a basic truth about the capital city of Israel, we are accused of harming peace. The record will reflect that we reject that outrageous claim'-By TOI staff-19 December 2017,

Remarks by US Ambassador Nikki Haley, Permanent Representative to the United Nations, before and after a UN Security Council briefing on the situation in the Middle East, December 18, 2017. Remarks before the vote:Thank you, Mr. President. In this meeting, I will not use Council’s time to address where a sovereign nation might decide to put its embassy, and why we have every right to do so. I will address a more appropriate and urgent concern.This week marks the one-year anniversary of the passage of Resolution 2334. On that day, in this Council, in December 2016, the United States elected to abstain, allowing the measure to pass. Now it’s one year and a new administration later. Given the chance to vote again on Resolution 2334, I can say with complete confidence that the United States would vote “no.” We would exercise our veto power. The reasons why are very relevant to the cause of peace in the Middle East.On the surface, Resolution 2334 described Israeli settlements as impediments to peace. Reasonable people can disagree about that, and in fact, over the years the United States has expressed criticism of Israeli settlement policies many times.But in truth, it was Resolution 2334 itself that was an impediment to peace. This Security Council put the negotiations between Israelis and the Palestinians further out of reach by injecting itself, yet again, in between the two parties to the conflict.By misplacing the blame for the failure of peace efforts squarely on the Israeli settlements, the resolution gave a pass to Palestinian leaders who for many years rejected one peace proposal after another. It also gave them encouragement to avoid negotiations in the future. It refused to acknowledge the legacy of failed negotiations unrelated to settlements. And the Council passed judgment on issues that must be decided in direct negotiations between the parties.If the United Nations’ history in the peace efforts proves anything, it is that talking in New York cannot take the place of face-to-face negotiations between the regional parties. It only sets back the cause of peace, not advance it.As if to make this very point, Resolution 2334 demanded a halt to all Israeli settlement activity in East Jerusalem – even in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. This is something that no responsible person or country would ever expect Israel would do. And in this way, Resolution 2334 did what President Trump’s announcement on Jerusalem as the capital of Israel did not do: It prejudged issues that should be left in final status negotiations.Given the chance today, the United States would veto Resolution 2334 for another reason. It gave new life to an ugly creation of the Human Rights Council: the database of companies operating in Jewish communities. This is an effort to create a blacklist, plain and simple. It is yet another obstacle to a negotiated peace. It is a stain on America’s conscience that we gave the so-called BDS movement momentum by allowing the passage of Resolution 2334.To the United Nations’ shame, this has been a disproportionately hostile place for the Middle East’s most enduring democracy.The United States refuses to accept the double standard that says we are not impartial when we stand by the will of the American people by moving our US embassy, but somehow the United Nations is a neutral party when it consistently singles out Israel for condemnation.For decades, Israel has withstood wave after wave of bias in the UN and its agencies. The United States has often stood beside Israel. We did not on December 23, 2016. We will not make that mistake again.This week marks the one year anniversary of a significant setback for Middle East peace. But the United States has an undiminished commitment to helping bring about final status negotiations that will lead to lasting peace.Our hand remains extended to both parties. We call on all countries that share this commitment to learn the hard lessons of the past and work to bring Israel and the Palestinian people in good faith to the peace table.Thank you, very much.—Remarks by Haley explaining the use of the US veto:Thank you, Mr. President.I have been the proud Representative of the United States at the United Nations for nearly a year now. This is the first time I have exercised the American right to veto a resolution in the Security Council. The exercise of the veto is not something the United States does often. We have not done it in more than six years. We do it with no joy, but we do it with no reluctance.The fact that this veto is being done in defense of American sovereignty and in defense of America’s role in the Middle East peace process is not a source of embarrassment for us; it should be an embarrassment to the remainder of the Security Council.As I pointed out when we discussed this topic 10 days ago, I will once again note the features of the President’s announcement on Jerusalem that are most relevant here. The President took great care not to prejudge final status negotiations in any way, including the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem. That remains a subject to be negotiated only by the parties. That position is fully in line with the previous Security Council resolutions.The President was also careful to state that we support the status quo regarding Jerusalem’s holy sites, and we support a two-state solution if that’s what the parties agree to. Again, these positions are fully consistent with the previous Security Council resolutions.It is highly regrettable that some are trying to distort the President’s position to serve their own agendas.What is troublesome to some people is not that the United States has harmed the peace process – we have, in fact, done no such thing. Rather, what is troublesome to some people is that the United States had the courage and honesty to recognize a fundamental reality. Jerusalem has been the political, cultural, and spiritual homeland of the Jewish people for thousands of years. They have had no other capital city. But the United States’ recognition of the obvious – that Jerusalem is the capital and seat of the modern Israeli government – is too much for some.First, some have threatened violence on the street, as if violence would somehow improve the prospects of peace.Now today, buried in diplomatic jargon, some presume to tell America where to put our embassy. The United States’ has a sovereign right to determine where and whether we establish an embassy. I suspect very few Member States would welcome Security Council pronouncements about their sovereign decisions. And I think of some who should fear it.It’s worth noting that this is not a new American position. Back in 1980, when Jimmy Carter was the American President, the Security Council voted on Resolution 478, which called upon diplomatic missions to relocate from Jerusalem. The United States did not support Resolution 478.In his remarks, then-Secretary of State Ed Muskie said the following: “The draft resolution before us today is illustrative of a preoccupation which has produced this series of unbalanced and unrealistic texts on Middle East issues.”Specifically, regarding the provision on diplomatic missions in Jerusalem, Secretary Muskie said this: “In our judgment, this provision is not binding. It is without force. And we reject it as a disruptive attempt to dictate to other nations. It does nothing to promote a resolution of the difficult problems facing Israel and its neighbors. It does nothing to advance the cause of peace.”That was in 1980. It is equally true today. The United States will not be told by any country where we can put our embassy.Buried even deeper in the jargon of this resolution is the accusation that the United States is setting back the prospects of peace in the Middle East. That is a scandalous charge. Those who are making it should consider that it only harms the very Palestinian people they claim to speak for. What does it gain the Palestinian people for their leaders to throw up roadblocks to negotiations? A “peace process” that is damaged by the simple recognition that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel is not a peace process; it is a justification for an endless stalemate. What does it gain the Palestinian people for some of their leaders to accuse the United States of being hostile to the cause of peace? It gains them nothing, but it risks costing them a great deal.The United States has done more than any other country to assist the Palestinian people. By far. Since 1994, we have given over $5 billion to the Palestinians in bilateral economic assistance, security assistance, and humanitarian assistance.The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees operates schools and medical facilities throughout the region. It is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions. Last year, the United States voluntarily funded almost 30 percent of UNRWA’s budget. That’s more than the next two largest donors combined. And it’s vastly more than some of the members of this Council that have considerable financial resources of their own.I’ll be blunt: When the American people see a group of countries whose total contributions to the Palestinian people is less than one percent of UNRWA’s budget – when they see these countries accuse the United States of being insufficiently committed to peace – the American people lose their patience.I have been to the Palestinian refugee camps the United States supports with their contributions. I have met with men, women, and children. I have advocated on their behalf. I can tell you that their leaders do them no favors by being more open to abandoning peace negotiations than to doing the hard work of seeing them to completion.The United States has never been more committed to peace in the Middle East. We were committed to it before the President announced our recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and we’re committed to it today.What we witnessed here today in the Security Council is an insult. It won’t be forgotten. It’s one more example of the United Nations doing more harm than good in addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.Today, for the simple act of deciding where to put our embassy, the United States was forced to defend its sovereignty. The record will reflect that we did so proudly. Today, for acknowledging a basic truth about the capital city of Israel, we are accused of harming peace. The record will reflect that we reject that outrageous claim.For these reasons, and with the best interests of both the Israeli and the Palestinian people firmly in mind, the United States votes no on this resolution.Thank you.

US veto of UN Jerusalem resolution ‘unacceptable,’ Palestinians fume-Abbas signs international treaties as part of statehood drive, Fatah calls for day of rage during Pence visit; Haley slams Palestinian leaders for false claim US hostile to peace-By AFP and TOI staff-19 December 2017

The Palestinian Authority slammed as “unacceptable” Monday a US veto of a UN resolution against President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and vowed to take actions toward gaining statehood.A spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the veto was “unacceptable and threatens the stability of the international community because it disrespects it.”The 14 other countries on the Security Council voted in favor, but US Ambassador Nikki Haley exercised the American veto.Nabil Abu Rudeina told AFP in Arabic that the support for the resolution, which included US allies France, Italy and Japan, “showed the (American) isolation. The international community must work now to protect the Palestinian people.”The Palestinians are expected to bring the vote to the full General Essembly sometime later this week. Though the measure is almost certain to pass, unlike the Security Council, General Assembly resolutions are non-binding.Trump’s December 6 announcement that he would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the American embassy there from Tel Aviv has faced heavy criticism, not least from the Palestinians.Abbas said soon after Trump’s declaration that the move ended Washington’s historic role as the key sponsor for Israel-Palestinian peace talks — a role it has played since the early 1990s.Trump’s speech “represents a declaration that the United States has withdrawn from playing the role it has played in the past decades in sponsoring the peace process,” he said at the time.Palestinians see East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state and have fumed against Trump’s move, including boycotting an upcoming visit by US Vice President Mike Pence to the region.-Statehood drive to continue-On Monday, Abbas signed 22 international agreements and treaties as part of a renewed campaign to gain international legitimacy for a Palestinian state, and said he would continue the drive unabated.The measure came during the convening of two of the most senior Palestinian political bodies, the Fatah Revolutionary Council and the Palestine Liberation Organization Central Committee, both of which met in Ramallah to formulate a response to Trump’s Jerusalem decision.Abbas said the names of the 22 organizations the PA is trying to join will be published tomorrow in the newspapers.In his opening remarks to the PLO meeting, the PA chairman reiterated that the Palestinians would no longer view the US as a mediator in the peace process.He also reasserted the PA’s intention to win full membership in the United Nations, and to join as many international organizations as possible, challenging the US’s request for Ramallah to refrain from taking unilateral actions toward statehood.“Every Monday we will join 22, 30…international organizations…there are 522 organizations we have a right to belong to,” Abbas said, according to a transcript of his speech published by the official PA news site, Wafa.Abbas also said that a committee would be formed to study any and all possible proposals that can be brought before the UN.Meanwhile, Fatah declared after its meeting that it will form local leadership committees to help to “lead the popular resistance against the occupation.”The organization has called for a day of rage in the Palestinian territories and across the world on Wednesday to coincide with Pence’s visit to Israel.Trump’s Ambassador to the UN, Haley, explaining the US veto, castigated the response to the US president’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital: “The President took great care not to prejudge final status negotiations in any way, including the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem. That remains a subject to be negotiated only by the parties. That position is fully in line with the previous Security Council resolutions, ” she noted.“The President was also careful to state that we support the status quo regarding Jerusalem’s holy sites, and we support a two-state solution if that’s what the parties agree to. Again, these positions are fully consistent with the previous Security Council resolutions. It is highly regrettable that some are trying to distort the President’s position to serve their own agendas.”She added: “A ‘peace process’ that is damaged by the simple recognition that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel is not a peace process; it is a justification for an endless stalemate. What does it gain the Palestinian people for some of their leaders to accuse the United States of being hostile to the cause of peace? It gains them nothing, but it risks costing them a great deal.”“The United States,” Haley also noted, “has done more than any other country to assist the Palestinian people. By far. Since 1994, we have given over $5 billion to the Palestinians in bilateral economic assistance, security assistance, and humanitarian assistance.”

Despite failing, UN Jerusalem bid paints Israel, US as alone against the world-If Trump’s move was meant to cement international legitimacy for Jerusalem’s status as Israel’s capital, the world body is proving there's nothing of the kind-By Raphael Ahren-TOI-19 December 2017

It came as a surprise to absolutely nobody that the US on Monday vetoed a United Nations Security Council draft resolution condemning its recent recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.No one, not even the Egyptian sponsors of the resolution, believed for a second that the administration of President Donald Trump would allow a resolution to pass that expressed “deep regret” over his December 6 statement, and which declared that his words “have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded.”Israeli leaders praised US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley’s raising her hand opposing the draft resolution. “On Hanukkah, you spoke like a Maccabee. You lit a candle of truth. You dispel the darkness. One defeated the many. Truth defeated lies,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.“Nothing could be more honorable. The Jewish people will not forget,” Deputy Minister for Diplomacy Michael Oren tweeted.But the fact that the resolution was dead on arrival in the Security Council does not mean that it cannot become a veritable nuisance to Israel and the US elsewhere.Jerusalem may remain Israel’s capital no matter what the UN says, but the cost of maintaining that stance alone against the world will leave America and Israel looking more and more like international rebels.After the US was forced to stand alone against 14 other countries, many of them allies, to sink the resolution on Monday, the administration and Israel can expect to be overwhelmingly isolated again against an even larger crowd later this week.The Palestinians, having anticipated an American veto, have announced their intention to take the resolution to the UN General Assembly, where there is no veto, but also no actual legal ramifications.Speaking to the Security Council minutes after the vote, the Palestinian envoy to the UN in New York, Riyad Mansour, said the international community “will find other frameworks for its position in the days to come.”Even in the unlikely event that Haley had somehow fallen asleep at the wheel and allowed the Security Council resolution to pass, it should be noted, the body does not have the power to revoke or rescind Trump’s decision.The US, as a sovereign state, decided to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. That is its prerogative, just as Ankara can recognize the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” and Moscow can recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia.“The United States has a sovereign right to determine where and whether we establish an embassy,” Haley said after the vote, in the second of her two stirring addresses to the Security Council. “I suspect very few member states would welcome Security Council pronouncements about their sovereign decisions.”Nonetheless on Monday, 14 out of 15 voting countries — Britain, China, France, Russia, Bolivia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Senegal, Sweden, Ukraine and Uruguay — supported a text that urged all states not to open diplomatic missions in Jerusalem, arguing that the city’s status must not be changed before a final-status peace deal.At the General Assembly, the depth of the American-Israeli isolation on this matter will be on full display, with almost all of the 193 member states expected to back a similar text.A resolution denying that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital would have a strong optical impact, just as the US vetoing a measure supported by 14 other states did.And it would send a strong message that Netanyahu’s claim that other states will follow the US’s lead is nothing but a pipe dream.Israeli officials are currently downplaying the significance of the UN votes, saying that Jerusalem will remain Israel’s capital even if the entire world declares otherwise.But if Trump’s move was meant to cement international legitimacy for Jerusalem’s status as Israel’s capital, a widely backed General Assembly vote declaring it null and void might achieve the exact opposite.

US blames North Korea for major ransomware attack-Trump administration says Pyongyang 'directly responsible' for cyberattack that hit hundreds of thousands of computers worldwide, including Britain's National Health Service-By AP-DEC 19,17-TOI

President Donald Trump’s administration is publicly blaming North Korea for a ransomware attack that infected hundreds of thousands of computers worldwide in May and crippled parts of Britain’s National Health Service.Homeland security adviser Tom Bossert wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published Monday night that North Korea was “directly responsible” for the WannaCry ransomware attack and that Pyongyang will be held accountable for it.Bossert said the administration’s finding of responsibility is based on evidence and confirmed by other governments and private companies, including the United Kingdom and Microsoft.Bossert said the Trump administration will continue to use its “maximum pressure strategy to curb Pyongyang’s ability to mount attacks, cyber or otherwise.”Pyongyang has previously denied hacking allegations.The WannaCry attack struck more than 150 nations in May, locking up digital documents, databases and other files and demanding a ransom for their release.It battered Britain’s National Health Service, where the cyberattack froze computers at hospitals across the country, closing emergency rooms and bringing medical treatment to a halt. Government offices in Russia, Spain, and several other countries were disrupted, as were Asian universities, Germany’s national railway and global companies such as automakers Nissan and Renault.The WannaCry ransomware exploited a vulnerability in mostly older versions of Microsoft’s Windows operating system. Affected computers had generally not been patched with security fixes that would have blocked the attack. Security experts, however, traced the exploitation of that weakness back to the US National Security Agency; it was part of a cache of stolen NSA cyberweapons publicly released by a group of hackers known as the Shadow Brokers.Microsoft president Brad Smith likened the theft to “the US military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen,” and argued that intelligence agencies should disclose such vulnerabilities rather than hoarding them.WannaCry came to a screeching halt thanks to enterprising work by a British hacker named Marcus Hutchins, who discovered that the malware’s author had embedded a “kill switch” in the code. Hutchins was able to trip that switch, and the attack soon ended. In an unusual twist, Hutchins was arrested months later by the FBI during a visit to the US; he pleaded not guilty and now awaits trial on charges he created unrelated forms of malware.

Miss Iraq recounts ‘death threats’ and fears for family over selfie with Israeli-Instagram photo with Adar Gandelsman caused outrage in Sarah Idan's home country, forcing relatives to flee. Still, she tells CNN, she has no regrets-By TOI staff-DEC 19,17

An Iraqi Miss Universe contestant whose family was forced to flee the Arab country after a photo of her with an Israeli candidate went viral has spoken of her ordeal to CNN, recounting “scary” death threats and anxious calls to her mother back home.Sarah Idan said she “didn’t think for a second there would be blowback” when she posted a selfie to Instagram with Israeli Adar Gandelsman. Both Gandelsman and Idan published the joint selfie on their Instagram pages, expressing a desire to promote peace, while participating in the Miss Universe International Beauty Pageant in Las Vegas.The 27-year-old Iraqi said she had been on “on cloud nine” at the pageant, where she was the first Iraqi contestant in 45 years. “I had been dreaming of that forever.”When she and her Israeli counterpart became friendly at the contest, Idan recounted, “I said ‘let’s take a picture so our people can see we don’t have a problem and we’re actually ambassadors for peace.'”But the response in Idan’s home country was swift and vicious.“I woke up to calls from my family and the Miss Iraq Organization going insane. The death threats I got online were so scary.”Her Iraqi sponsors demanded that she remove the photo from her account. “The director of the Miss Iraq Organization called me and said they’re getting heat from the ministry. He said I have to take the picture down or they will strip me of my title.”Idan refused to take down the photo, though she did write a second post stressing the photo was not a show of support for the government of Israel.“I want to stress that the purpose of the picture was only to express hope and desire for peace between the two countries,” she wrote, going on to apologize “to all those who consider [the picture] harmful to the Palestinian cause.”But that clarification didn’t do much good.“People in Iraq recognized my family, they immediately knew who they were. And they were getting death threats,” Idan said. “My mom was freaking out. I told her ‘Mom, just get out. Get out.’ I told her I’m sorry and asked if she wants me to leave the competition. I was ready to drop out right then.”The Miss Iraq Organization has denied threatening to strip Idan of her title, but acknowledged getting a strong response from Iraqis and asking her to “to clarify what happened.”Idan said this was not true. “I have proof showing they threatened to take my title away if I didn’t remove the picture… They threatened to take my title many times.”Idan also received threats for wearing a bikini during a pre-competition photo-shoot. But she said the selfie with Gandelsman caused her far more trouble.“I’m here trying to paint a good picture about our country and our people, but instead I get a negative response. I have no support whatsoever from the Miss Iraq Organization and our government,” she said.Idan, who has dual citizenship, is still in the US, and said she feared going back home. Her family has been forced to leave Iraq until the controversy subsides.“I was crying to my mom and felt like it’s my fault they left, and she said, ‘no, it’s not your fault, we live in a f****d up society.'”She added that “The government has been scary quiet. And when they’re this quiet, you don’t know what waits for you at home.”Despite the trouble it has caused her and her family, Idan has said she has no regrets about posting the photo. She also remains optimistic about her people.“A lot of people have the wrong idea about Iraq, and while we do have extremists, we also have good people,” she said. “Most of the good people go unnoticed.”Dov Lieber contributed to this report.

Israel rejects meetings with far-rightists in new Austrian government-Contact with ministries headed by far-right party to be limited to civil servants; Foreign Ministry stresses need to combat anti-Semitism-By AFP and TOI staff-19 December 2017

Israel said Monday it would work with the new Austrian government “for the moment,” but would limit contacts with ministries run by the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe) to civil servants.A government statement said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also holds the foreign ministry portfolio, is in “direct contact” with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz of the conservative People’s Party (OeVP).It said Netanyahu had instructed the Foreign Ministry to draw up guidelines on how the Jewish state would “conduct itself” in its dealings with the new ruling coalition in Vienna.“For the moment, Israel will maintain working relations with the professional echelon of the government ministries headed by a minister from the Freedom Party,” the Hebrew-language statement added.The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Monday that Kurz’s decision to take hard-right positions on things such as immigration to win support marked “a dangerous development… in the political life of Europe.”Founded by former Nazis, the FPOe emerged as Europe’s strongest far-right force in the late 1990s.“The State of Israel wishes to emphasize its absolute commitment to the struggle against anti-Semitism and commemoration of the Holocaust,” Monday’s Israeli statement said.Zionist Union MK Amir Peretz, who chairs the Knesset’s Israel-Austria Friendship Association, praised Netanyahu and the Foreign Ministry for “boycotting ministers from the extreme right.”“The State of Israel has good and important connections with the Austrian people and their representatives, but concerning a part with a Nazi past, we draw a clear red line,” said Peretz. “Even on the parliamentary level, we will not have ties with members of the extreme right-wing party.”Likud MK Yehudah Glick, who met with FPOe head Heinz Christian-Strache when he visited Israel and is in favor of strengthening ties with the party, called the decision a “serious mistake.”“It is too bad that the prime minister succumbed to the traditional positions of Foreign Ministry officials and didn’t listen to those familiar [with the FPOe] from up close,” said Glick.“It is difficult to understand why the government saw no problem maintaining ties with the socialist party that headed the previous government, even though its members were identified with Hamas and the Popular Front [for the Liberation of Palestine,” Glick added.This is the FPOe’s second stint in government.In 2000, the OeVP — now Kurz’s party — picked the FPOe as its junior coalition partner.At that time, the FPOe was headed by Jorg Haider, who praised Hitler’s “orderly employment policies.”He called SS veterans “decent people” and described concentration camps as “punishment camps.”Israel recalled its ambassador from Vienna in protest and its then-prime minister Ehud Barak called Haider “the representative of evil.”Austria’s 14 European Union partners at the time imposed bilateral diplomatic sanctions.Under pressure, Haider stood down as FPOe leader on May 1, 2000.The FPOe has since softened its image and won 26 percent of the vote in the October 1 Austrian election.

Japan approves missile defense system amid NKorea threat-[Associated Press]-MARI YAMAGUCHI-YAHOONEWS-December 19, 2017

TOKYO (AP) — Japan's Cabinet on Tuesday approved a plan to purchase a set of costly land-based U.S. missile combat systems to increase the country's defense capabilities amid escalating threats from North Korea.The approval will allow the Defense Ministry to buy two Aegis Ashore systems to add to Japan's current two-step missile defense consisting of Patriot batteries and Aegis-equipped destroyers."North Korea's nuclear and missile development has become a greater and more imminent threat for Japan's national security, and we need to drastically improve our ballistic missile defense capability to protect Japan continuously and sustainably," a statement issued by the Cabinet said.The deployment will add to growing defense costs in Japan as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government pushes to allow the military a greater international role and boost its missile combat capability.Defense officials say two Aegis Ashore units can cover Japan entirely by using advanced missile interceptors such as SM-3 Block IIA that was jointly developed by Japan and the U.S., and would cost around 200 billion yen ($1.8 billion), though they have not released exact figures.Officials say they hope the systems are ready for operation by 2023.Officials refused to disclose cost details until a planned release of a 2018 budget, in which defense spending is expected to rise to a record.Abe has said he fully backs U.S. President Donald Trump's policy of keeping all options on the table, including possible military actions, against the North. Abe has vowed to bolster Japan's security cooperation and increase use of advanced U.S. missile defense equipment.Defense officials declined to give details about potential sites for Aegis Ashore deployment, while Japanese reports cited Self-Defense Force bases in Akita, northern Japan, and Yamaguchi, in southwestern Japan.Defense officials said they chose Aegis Ashore over an option of Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, because of its cheaper cost and versatility. Typically, a THAAD setup comes with 48 missiles and 9 mobile launch pads, priced about $1.1 billion, and Japan would need at least six of those to defend the country, officials said.The deployment of THAAD in South Korea triggered protests from China as Beijing sees it a security threat.Aegis Ashore can be compatible with the ship-based Aegis systems that are on four Japanese destroyers and also could work with SM-6 interceptors capable of shooting down cruise missiles, defense officials said. Japan plans to add four more Aegis-equipped destroyers in coming years.The U.S. has installed the land-fixed Aegis in Romania and Poland, and Japan will be a third to host the system.___Follow Mari Yamaguchi on Twitter at twitter.com/mariyamaguchi.

California wildfire fight aided by better weather-[Reuters]-By Steve Gorman-YAHOONEWS-December 19, 2017

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Thousands of weary firefighters, battling a deadly 2-week-old California wildfire that ranks as the third largest in state history, welcomed a second straight day of favorable weather on Monday that allowed a more aggressive attack on the flames.The so-called Thomas fire has scorched 271,000 acres (110,000 hectares) of drought-parched chaparral and brush in the coastal mountains, foothills and canyons of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties northwest of Los Angeles.The burned zone encompasses an area about a third of the size of the state of Rhode Island.More than 1,000 homes and other buildings have gone up in flames and some 18,000 other structures remained threatened from a late-season firestorm that kept firefighters on the defensive for the better part of two weeks.One firefighter lost his life, succumbing to smoke inhalation and burns last Thursday near the town of Fillmore in Ventura County.A mix of lighter winds, rising humidity and cooler air temperatures prevailed for a second day on Monday, affording crews the greatest weather break they had seen yet, said Lynne Tolmachoff, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire)."Everybody is breathing a sigh of relief that this will give those firefighters a chance to get in there and do some good work, and not just be constantly chasing things," she told Reuters by telephone.A firefighting force of 8,500 personnel had carved containment lines around 50 percent of the blaze's perimeter as of Monday night, up from 45 percent earlier.But coastal communities within the towns of Santa Barbara, Montecito and Summerland were still at risk as crews hurried to extend and shore up buffer zones before a return of higher winds forecast for Wednesday, Tolmachoff said. Full containment is not expected before the second week of January.The blaze erupted on Dec. 4 and was stoked by hot, dry Santa Ana winds blowing with rare hurricane force from the high desert to the east, spreading the flames across miles of rugged coastal terrain faster than firefighters could keep up.The latest tally of burned landscape puts the Thomas blaze among the three largest wildfires documented in California, approaching the record size of the 2003 Cedar fire in San Diego County that consumed 273,246 acres (110,600 hectares) and killed 15 people.The Thomas fire has displaced more than 100,000 people, although authorities in Santa Barbara County lifted evacuation orders for additional areas no longer considered to be in harm's way, and more communities were to be reopened on Tuesday.CalFire has put the estimated cost of fighting the blaze at nearly $131 million. The cause remained under investigation.The Thomas came two months after a spate of wind-driven blazes in Northern California's wine country incinerated several thousand homes and killed more than 40 people, ranking as the deadliest rash of wildfires, and one of the most destructive, in state history.(Additional reporrting by Chris Kenning in Chicago and Peter Szekely in New York; Editing by Clive McKeef and Peter Cooney)

Passenger train on new route derails in Washington state, killing at least three-[Reuters]-By Tom James-YAHOONEWS-December 19, 2017

DUPONT, Wash. (Reuters) - An Amtrak train derailed on Monday during its inaugural run on a faster route from Seattle to Portland, Oregon, sending passenger cars tumbling from a bridge onto a major highway, killing at least three people and injuring more than 70.Thirteen of the train's 14 cars jumped the tracks near the town of DuPont, Washington State Patrol spokeswoman Brooke Bova said. Amtrak said there were 86 aboard, 80 of them passengers.Five vehicles and two trucks were involved in the accident, and the highway was littered with fragments of the bridge and tree branches. Some motorists were injured but none died, authorities said."We have been told there are three casualties at this time," Bova told a news conference, adding about 100 people were taken to nearby hospitals. Ten people have serious injuries and dozens have been released, the Washington State Patrol said.She said all the train cars had been searched. The state patrol has turned over the investigation to the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), whose members were on the scene.One aspect of the situation likely be in focus is the speed at which the train took a curve leading up to the bridge.Geoff Patrick, a spokesman for Sound Transit, which owns the track, said it had recently been upgraded to handle passenger trains, from its prior use for slow-moving freight trains. The curving stretch of track where the accident took place had a speed limit of 30 miles per hour (48 kph), Patrick said.Several hours after the 7:34 a.m. crash, train cars remained dangling from the overpass, with others strewn across Interstate 5, a major West Coast route stretching from the Canadian to Mexican borders.Cranes have been brought in to remove the carriages."It was just a scene of chaos and piles of twisted metal," said Ted Danek, administrator for the city of Dupont who visited the site.Some of those on board escaped by kicking out windows, passenger Chris Karnes told news outlet KIRO 7."All of a sudden, we felt this rocking and creaking noise, and it felt like we were heading down a hill," Karnes said. "The next thing we know, we're being slammed into the front of our seats, windows are breaking, we stop, and there's water gushing out of the train. People were screaming."The derailment happened on the first day Amtrak trains began using the new inland route between the Washington cities of Tacoma and Olympia, part of a $181-million project to cut travel time, according to an October news release from the state's transport department and Amtrak.The rerouting takes trains along I-5, enabling them to reach speeds of 79 miles per hour (127 km per hour).It was not immediately clear whether the derailment was connected to the new route. An NTSB member told reporters it was too early to say what may have caused the crash.The state transportation department said the track had undergone "weeks of inspection and testing" before Monday.'CARS EVERYWHERE'-A train crew member told an emergency dispatcher the train came around a corner before the bridge and then "We went on the ground," according to an audio recording posted by Broadcastify.com.Asked whether everyone was OK, the crew member replied, "I am still figuring that out. We got cars everywhere and down onto the highway."Amtrak's co-chief executive, Richard Anderson, declined to speculate on the cause. He confirmed that positive train control (PTC), a system that automatically slows trains if they are going too fast, was not installed on the tracks.By law, PTC must be installed on all passenger rail systems by 2018, a deadline that has repeatedly been delayed after rail agencies said implementation was more complicated than anticipated. Sound Transit commuter line, which owns the track, reported in September that it did not yet have PTC in operation.U.S. President Donald Trump said the crash illustrated the need for infrastructure improvements.The derailment was Amtrak's second in Washington state this year. On July 2, a southbound train with more than 250 people aboard derailed in the town of Steilacoom, just a few miles north of Monday's derailment. No serious injuries were reported.In May 2015, an Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia, killing eight people and injuring more than 200. The NTSB concluded the driver became distracted by radio transmissions and lost track of where he was.An Amtrak train traveling from New York in April 2016 hit a backhoe working on railroad tracks in Chester, Pennsylvania, killing two maintenance workers and injuring 41.That crash prompted criticism from the NTSB about Amtrak's safety record. Amtrak said last month it had made numerous reforms.(Reporting by Tom James in DuPont, Washington; Additional reporting by David Shepardson, Jonathan Allen, Gina Cherelus, Peter Szekely and Daniel Trotta in New York and Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento, Californina; Writing by Joseph Ax and Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Clarence Fernandez)

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