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BRUSSELS (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged the European Union on Monday to back a new U.S. peace initiative in the Middle East, after President Donald Trump’s unilateral decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital met with widespread condemnation and triggered clashes in the Palestinian territories.

Netanyahu, on a first official visit to the EU by an Israeli premier in 22 years, told reporters in Brussels that recognizing Jerusalem was merely stating the reality on the ground. He said he expected many European countries to follow Trump’s lead in the future.

But European officials say they have heard no details about the U.S. plan to relaunch moribund Mideast peace efforts.

“We should give peace a chance. I think we should see what is presented and see if we can advance this peace,” Netanyahu said, before a meeting with EU foreign ministers, chaired by the bloc’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the Europeans are impatient to hear details of any new U.S. peace move. None were forthcoming when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was in Brussels last week.

“They’ve announced to us some kind of American initiative. We’ve been waiting for several months. If it’s not the case, then perhaps the European Union should take the initiative, but it’s too early to say,” Le Drian said.

“Everyone knows that the resolution of the Middle East crisis goes through negotiations and the recognition of two states,” he said.

“(Jerusalem) could be the capital of Israel and a future Palestinian state but that has to be negotiated between the two parties,” said Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders.

Reynders said that, as the biggest aid donor to the Palestinians and a major partner of Israel, the EU has “a particular role to play” in the dispute.

Netanyahu insisted, however, that “what President Trump has done is put facts squarely on the table. Peace is based on reality.”

“Jerusalem is Israel’s capital, no one can deny it. It doesn’t obviate peace it makes peace possible,” he said, adding that he believed most European countries will now “move their embassies to Jerusalem, recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”

Netanyahu was also due Monday to discuss Israel’s relations with the EU, which have been tense, particularly over the EU’s insistence on labeling Israeli products made in Jewish settlements.

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Raf Casert in Brussels contributed to this report.

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards (D) once bragged that the only way he’d lose reelection is if he was caught with “a dead girl or a live boy.” Roy Moore might be about to do him one better.

Moore has been accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women, most of whom were teenagers at the time. Top national Republicans have demanded he leave the Alabama Senate race, refused to support his campaign and threatened him with a Senate Ethics Committee investigation on the day he’s sworn in. He’s spent the final week of his hotly contested campaign in hiding, with no public events since last Tuesday. His TV ads have the production quality of local infomercials. His campaign has been badly outspent by Doug Jones, his Democratic opponent. His potential future colleague, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) slammed Moore on national television on Sunday, saying “Alabama deserves better.”

Yet Moore has crept back into the lead in public and private polls — and it’s difficult to find anyone in the state outside of Jones’ surrogates, including Moore’s harshest critics, who think he’s likely to lose.

“I’m not super confident,”Laura Hamilton, a former Madison County circuit court judge volunteering at Jones’ Huntsville office on Thursday told TPM.

Hamilton said she was “much more nervous now” than she had been a few weeks earlier.

“We’re going to keep working because you never know, you just never know, and Doug is just too great a candidate to let it go,” she said.

She, and the many other Jones volunteers TPM talked to across the state the last few days who expressed pessimism about the race’s outcome, have reason to be concerned.

Jones had shot to a lead in public and private polls before Thanksgiving, in the wake of the accusations against Moore of sexual misconduct from nine women, including one who said he sexually assaulted her when she was 16 and he was a deputy district attorney in his early ’30s, and another who said he initiated a sexual encounter with her when she was just 14 years old.

But Moore has come back and currently holds a lead slightly outside the margin of error in most recent public polls. Moore’s own internal survey had him up by 8 points over the weekend, according to two sources familiar with the numbers.

Democrats believe the race is a much closer contest, with Moore and Jones essentially tied. While it’s impossible to confidently predict a turnout in an oddly timed December election where one candidate is so fatally flawed and turnout levels amongst key groups including African Americans is a mystery, Republicans clearly feel more confident.

The race isn’t over yet, but if Moore wins it will be in spite of himself.

The candidate has been in hiding for the last week, taking a full six days off between a Tuesday rally with former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and another one with Bannon scheduled for Monday night. He hasn’t taken questions from any news outlets who aren’t friendly to his candidacy since the scandal blew up more than a month ago.

Moore wasn’t even in the state for part of the final week. A source close to his campaign confirmed to TPM that he flew to Philadelphia to see his son play in the Army-Navy football game on Saturday, and he wasn’t at his own church Sunday morning. His thinly staffed campaign had almost no visible presence around the state past a few yard signs along the highway and scattered TV ads.

“I know you’re excited because I’m the only candidate talking to you,” Jones said mockingly of Moore during a quick scrum with reporters Sunday in Birmingham. “What kind of public servant hides?”

While Moore has gone to ground, Jones has been almost everywhere in the state in the past week. His campaign says it’s made more than 1 million phone calls, hit more than 100,000 doors and held almost 250 events in the race. In the last weekend alone he held rallies across the state with Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D), Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL) and other prominent African American politicians, as well as a pair of concerts from indie-country darlings Jason Isbell and Shovels & Rope.

The Jones surrogates pushed to remind voters it’s not just Moore’s alleged sexual history that should give them pause — it’s his controversial views on race and his hostility towards gay people and non-Christians.

“It’s going to be a turnout game,” Sewell told TPM in Selma. “It’s a great juxtaposition. You have a person who’s going to be fighting for equal justice for everyone and someone who really stands for divisiveness and has always stood for divisiveness.”

But it’s still Alabama — one of the most racially polarized and conservative states in the country. No Democrat has won statewide here in more than a decade, and the more national “elites” criticize what Alabamians are doing, the more stubbornly many voters resist being told what to do.

Moore has also had some help. President Trump has painted the race’s outcome as crucial for his presidency, and parachuted in for a rally in one of Alabama’s larger media markets.

“We need somebody in that Senate seat who will vote for our Make America Great Again agenda,” he said to cheers at a rally Friday just over the border in Pensacola, Florida. “We want jobs, jobs, jobs. So get out and vote for Roy Moore.”

Trump says the same in a robocall for Moore aimed at turning out the GOP base. The Republican National Committee has spent a total of $170,000 to boost Moore’s chances in the last week, the pro-Trump outside group America First Action dropped more than $1 million in the same stretch, and the National Rifle Association sent around mailers to its members pushing them to back Moore as well.

That all matters — as does the general dismissal of the accusers by many Republicans, who claim the women are likely lying and even if they’re telling the truth that it’s not that big of a deal.

Helping their argument was accuser Beverly Young Nelson’s admission Friday that she’d added a date and location to what she says is Moore’s inscription in her yearbook. Nelson has said Moore sexually assaulted her when she was 16, one of the most serious allegations against him.

Jeana Boggs, a longtime Moore friend and campaign volunteer who attended Trump’s Pensacola rally on Friday, told TPM that she didn’t believe the two women accusing Moore of his worst actions — and if the rest are telling the truth, what of it?

“He did nothing illegal. The age of consent was 16, and our parents, my sister was set up when she was 16 with a 30-year-old guy, and I worked in a dry cleaners when I was 15 or 16 years old and I dated the guy who owned the service station next door and he was in his 30s. Girls would brag about it, especially if the guy had an education, a career and was good looking,” she told TPM Sunday. “The other women said he was a perfect gentleman, it was only those two, and their statements have been debunked.”

Boggs said that “Trump’s endorsement and the yearbook fiasco” had handed Moore a comfortable lead in the race.

Her dismissiveness was echoed by many other Republicans across the state — though there were clear gender, educational and generational divides in how people viewed the accusations against Moore.

Many older Republican women didn’t believe the accusers or shrugged off the allegations, while a number of younger women saw things very differently and were either voting for Jones or staying home. Most older Republican men were sticking with Moore, but some younger ones said they couldn’t bring themselves to vote for either candidate.

The biggest question for Jones is black turnout. Jones’ campaign has put a huge effort into mobilizing black voters, as has a local outside group which has “Vote or Die” signs all over the state.

While anecdotal information is inherently limited, most African American voters TPM talked to from Huntsville to Selma to Montgomery had heard a ton about the race from TV, said they’d been contacted by Jones’s campaign or allies, and planned to vote. While they all knew a lot more about Moore than Jones, many mentioned Jones’ work prosecuting KKK members in the notorious civil rights-era bombing of a black church in Birmingham.

Tabitha Austin, an African American woman, told TPM as she grabbed lunch at Lannie’s barbecue in Selma she’d heard about the race “All day, every day” on TV, and was “absolutely” voting, calling Moore a “donkey.” Others expressed similar views.

Jones’ allies admit they need almost everything to go right on Tuesday to pull off what would still be a stunning upset in deep-red Alabama. But they’re holding out hope.

“I recognize that it’s not only uphill but up-mountain,” Alabama state Rep. Hank Sanders (D) told TPM in Montgomery. “But I think we’re going to be mountain-climbing.”

Correction: This story originally misidentified Alabama state Rep. Hank Sanders (D). We regret the error.

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A national Democratic group is putting out a “predator alert” on Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore to try and convince Republican women to vote against the accused child molester on Tuesday.

American Bridge is launching a last-minute digital ad that begins with the sound of an emergency alert — and only gets darker from there.

“Roy Moore has infiltrated our Alabama communities and his rap sheet reads like a serial sexual predator,” the ad’s narrator says as prison rap sheet-like images with Moore’s face flash onscreen. “His record from the Alabama Supreme Court paints an even darker picture. Judge Moore has repeatedly sided with rapists and sexual predators. These aren’t Alabama values. On Tuesday, Dec. 12, vote no on Roy Moore.”

 

Nine women have accused Moore of initiating inappropriate sexual encounters, many of them when they were teenagers. One says Moore undressed both of them and put her hand on the front of his underwear when she was 14 years old, while another says she was 16 when Moore sexually assaulted her.

Moore also had a record of siding with defendants in sex crime cases while serving as a judge, according to reports.

Those accusations have consumed the race — and badly damaged Moore, creating a close race in deep red Alabama. Moore has inched ahead in recent public polls, but if Democrat Doug Jones gets enough African American support and wins over enough Republican women he could still pull off an upset on Tuesday.

The digital ad, shared first with TPM, is targeting the latter group: Republican women who don’t like President Trump. The ad has $15,000 behind it, a small but not insignificant amount for a statewide digital buy.

This story has been updated to reflect the full size of American Bridge’s ad buy.

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Alabama’s race for U.S. Senate settled into church for worship on Sunday, with the minister at a historic black congregation calling the race a life-or-death matter for equal rights, conservatives standing by Republican Roy Moore and others feeling unsettled in the middle.

Speaking at Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church, where four black girls died in a Ku Klux Klan bombing in 1963, the Rev. Arthur Price evoked the civil rights era between hymns. Democratic nominee Doug Jones prosecuted the last two Klansmen convicted in the attack and has attended events at the church, a downtown landmark with twin domed towers.

“There’s too much at stake for us to stay home,” Price said of Tuesday’s election. He didn’t endorse Jones from the pulpit but in a later interview called the candidate “a hero” to the congregation and Birmingham.

Despite allegations of sexual misconduct involving teen girls decades ago, Moore isn’t being abandoned by worshippers at Montgomery’s Perry Hill Road Baptist Church, where Moore spoke at a “God and Country” rally in September before the accusations arose.

Leaving the red-brick building after a service that ended with a hymn and an altar call, Kevin Mims said he didn’t believe the claims against Moore. But even if true, he said, they occurred long ago, and Moore is a conservative who stands “on the word of God.”

“Everyone has to vote their convictions,” said Mims, holding a Bible. “My conviction is he’s the right man for the job.”

Lines aren’t so clearly defined elsewhere.

Interviews with a dozen parishioners at Mobile’s Ashland Place United Methodist Church, the home church of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, turned up neither any Moore defenders nor confirmed votes for Jones. The prevailing mood seemed to be one of frustration over having to choose between a Republican with Moore’s baggage and any Democrat.

“I will vote for Judge Moore,” said Bill Prine, of Mobile. “I’m not a fan of his, but I’ll have to stick with the Republicans.”

The candidates also spent time in church. Accompanied by Sen. Cory Booker, D-New Jersey, Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Alabama, and others, Jones tweeted a photo from More Than Conquerors Faith Church, a large black congregation in Birmingham. Aides to Moore, who has been almost invisible on the campaign trail during the closing days of the race, didn’t disclose his whereabouts Sunday.

Polls show the race too close to call. While Moore had a clear path to victory in a state where no Democrat holds statewide office, the 70-year-old has been fighting for his political life since reports surfaced a month ago that he made sexual advances on teen girls when he was a deputy district attorney in his 30s.

Speaking on CNN on Sunday, GOP Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby said allegations that Moore molested a 14-year-old were the “tipping point” in his decision to cast a write-in ballot for a “distinguished Republican” rather than to vote for Moore or Jones.

“There’s a lot of smoke,” Shelby said. “Got to be some fire somewhere.”

Roy Moore’s chief strategist, Dean Young, tried to tie Moore to the star of President Donald Trump, who remains popular among state Republicans despite low national approval ratings.

“If the people of Alabama vote for this liberal Democrat Doug Jones, they’re voting against the president, who they put in office at the highest level,” Young said on ABC News’ “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”

In a state considered part of the Bible Belt, the allegations transformed a race into an unexpected referendum on which is better: a man accused of child molestation claims he vehemently denies or a Democrat?

For many conservative Republicans, there’s really no choice.

“To me, there’s only one person in the race, and that’s Judge Moore,” said David Smith, leaving Perry Hill Baptist with his wife, Cecilia. The two have a recording of Moore’s speech earlier this year at their church and sometimes listen to it in the car for inspiration.

At 16th Street Baptist, Merion Turner recalled participating in civil rights marches and was in high school at the time of the bombing. Turner said she would vote for the Democrat on Tuesday, though her choice has little to do with the allegations of sexual misconduct against Moore.

“I just don’t like all the division in this country right now,” she said. “I think Doug Jones would help that.”

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Chandler reported from Montgomery; Barrow reported from Mobile. Associated Press writer Jay Reeves contributed to this report from Birmingham.

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United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley on Sunday said the women who accused President Donald Trump of sexual misconduct “should be heard,” breaking with the White House’s line that Trump’s election win settled questions about their allegations.

“Women who accuse anyone should be heard,” Haley said on CBS News’ “Face the Nation.”

Referring to the women who accused Trump of sexual misconduct, a set of allegations spanning four decades, Haley said, “I think we heard from them prior to the election.”

“I think any woman who has felt violated or felt mistreated in any way, they have every right to speak up,” she said.

“And does the election mean that’s a settled issue?” host John Dickerson asked.

“You know, that’s for the people to decide. I know that he was elected,” she said. “But, you know, women should always feel comfortable coming forward. And we should all be willing to listen to them.”

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Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) on Sunday said the Senate Ethics Committee will “immediately” open an investigation into Alabama Republican candidate Roy Moore, who numerous women have accused of sexual misconduct, if Moore is elected to office.

“If he wins we have to seat him. Then there will immediately be an ethics investigation,” Scott said on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.”

He said the panel will “perhaps even talk with some of the folks who are witnesses” to Moore’s alleged misconduct.

“I’ve always said that so far, as far as I can tell, the allegations are significantly stronger than the denial,” Scott said.

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Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore’s campaign strategist on Sunday said the state’s upcoming special election is a referendum on President Donald Trump.

“This is Donald Trump on trial in Alabama,” Moore’s campaign strategist Dean Young said on ABC News’ “This Week.”

He said voters who cast a ballot for Democratic candidate Doug Jones are “voting against the President who they put in office at the highest level.”

“Judge Moore’s going to go to Washington, Judge Moore is going to win and I highly doubt there’s going to be a Senate investigation,” Young said, referring to the possibility of a Senate Ethics Committee probe into numerous women’s allegations of sexual misconduct against Moore.

Elected Republicans have suggested otherwise.

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Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL) on Sunday said that Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore will “harken” the state “back to the days of segregation.”

“We who have been proud Alabamians know that we have been trying to overcome our painful past, and this candidate, Roy Moore, will only take us backwards and harken us back to the days of segregation,” Sewell said on ABC News’ “This Week.”

She said that Moore’s Democratic opponent, Doug Jones, “will take us forward.”

Sewell said there is “no reason to doubt” the numerous women who have accused Moore of sexual misconduct.

“If Roy Moore goes to Washington, we will always be questioning his character,” she said.

One woman, Leigh Corfman, alleged that Moore initiated a sexual encounter when she was 14 years old and he was in his early 30s. Another, Beverly Young Nelson, accused Moore of sexually assaulting her when she was 16 years old. Moore has denied all the allegations.

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Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) on Sunday harshly criticized Roy Moore, Alabama’s Republican candidate for Senate and Shelby’s possible junior colleague who numerous women have accused of sexual misconduct, days before the upcoming special election.

“The state of Alabama deserves better,” Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Shelby said he “couldn’t vote” for Moore and “wrote in a distinguished Republican name” instead.

“If he wins, we have to seat him. Then there will immediately be an ethics investigation,” Shelby said. “The allegations are significantly stronger than the denial.”

He said that the women accusing Moore of misconduct are “credible” and “believable.”

“When it got to the 14-year-old story, that was enough for me,” Shelby said, referring to Leigh Corfman, who alleged that Moore initiated a sexual encounter when she was 14 years old and he was in his early 30s. “I said, I can’t vote for Roy Moore.”

Moore’s senior campaign adviser Brett Doster fired back later Sunday.

This post has been updated.

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FALLBROOK, Calif. (AP) — A week of destructive fires in Southern California is ending but danger still looms.

Well into what’s considered the wet season, there’s been nary a drop of rain. That’s good news for sun-seeking tourists, but could spell more disaster for a region that emerged this spring from a yearslong drought and now has firefighters on edge because of parched conditions and no end in sight to the typical fire season.

“This is the new normal,” Gov. Jerry Brown warned Saturday after surveying damage from the deadly Ventura County fire that has caused the most destruction. “We’re about ready to have firefighting at Christmas. This is very odd and unusual.”

Even as firefighters made progress containing six major wildfires from Santa Barbara to San Diego County and most evacuees were allowed to return home, predicted gusts of up to 50 mph (80 kph) through Sunday posed a threat of flaring up existing blazes or spreading new ones. High fire risk is expected to last into January.

Overall, out-of-control fires have destroyed nearly 800 homes and other buildings, killed dozens of horses and forced more than 200,000 people to flee flames that have burned over 270 square miles (700 square kilometers) since Monday. One death, so far, a 70-year-old woman who crashed her car on an evacuation route, is attributed to the fire in Santa Paula, a small city next to Ventura where the fire began.

Firefighters were on high alert for dangerous fire potential even before the first blazes broke out. On Dec. 1, they began planning for extreme winds forecast in the week ahead.

Ken Pimlott, chief of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said authorities were prepared for destruction on the level of 2003 and 2007 firestorms in Southern California and possibly those in Northern California that killed 44 people and destroyed nearly 9,000 homes and buildings in October.

By Monday, they had moved fire crews from the northern part of the state as reinforcements and marshaled engines, bulldozers and aircraft.

On Tuesday they brought in more helicopters from the National Guard and “every last plane we could find in the nation,” said Thom Porter, southern chief of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The military provided C-130 planes for water drops, said Mark Ghilarducci, director of the California Office of Emergency Services. More than 290 fire engines came from Montana, Utah, New Mexico, Idaho, Arizona, Oregon and Nevada.

But once flames met ferocious winds, crews were largely powerless to stop them. Even fire-attacking aircraft were helpless while being grounded at times because of night, high winds or smoke.

As fires burned in Ventura and Los Angeles counties, firefighters from other states were already in place north of San Diego on Thursday when a major fire erupted and rapidly spread in the Fallbrook area, known for its avocado groves and horse stables in the rolling hills.

“We had many resources in the area very quickly on this incident, but unfortunately within several minutes the fire had gotten out of control and well-established, and necessitated massive evacuations,” said Steve Abbott, chief of the North County Fire Protection District.

The fire swept through the San Luis Rey Training Facility, where it killed an estimated 30 to 40 elite thoroughbreds and destroyed more than 100 homes — most of them in the Rancho Monserate Country Club retirement community. Three people were burned trying to escape.

Most of the fires this week were in places that suffered from major fires in the past, including one in the ritzy Los Angeles neighborhood of Bel-Air that burned 6 homes and another in the city’s rugged foothills community of Sylmar and Santa Paula.

The fire in Fallbrook was no exception. Ten years ago, during a deadly spate of Santa Ana wind-driven infernos, flames wiped out most of the more than 200 homes in the Valley Oaks Mobile Home Park.

Memories of that blaze were fresh as flames approached Thursday and sheriff’s deputies told residents to leave immediately.

By the time he got the order to go, Mateo Gonzalez had already helped his brother move out of his nearby place and packed all of his important belongings.

In the 2007 firestorm, he had almost no warning before his house was destroyed, only four months after moving in.

“We weren’t prepared the first time around. This time we were,” he said Friday as he returned to his undamaged home.

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