Israel’s plans to build more settlements in Palestinian territories “may not be helpful” in achieving peace, the White House said Thursday. Just a day earlier, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his government planned to establish 3,000 new settlement homes in the West Bank, the first time Israelis are building settlements there since 1999. The Israeli Supreme Court recently ruled that 300 settlers in Amona must leave homes the court says were illegally built on privately owned Palestinian land. Netanyahu’s move was widely criticized as counterintuitive to any hope of a two-state solution. Just in December, the Obama administration refused to veto a United Nations Security Council resolution that condemned new settlements in Palestinian territories. In a statement, Press Secretary Sean Spicer emphasized that “the Trump administration has not taken an official position on settlement activity and looks forward to continuing discussions.” Netanyahu, who has spoken hopefully about the new U.S. administration, will meet with President Trump later this month.
—Israel’s plans to build more settlements in Palestinian territories “may not be helpful” in achieving peace, the White House said. More here
—British Prime Minister Theresa May revealed Thursday the “white paper” detailing her plans for Britain’s formal exit from the European Union. More here
—We’re tracking the news stories of the day below. All updates are in Eastern Standard Time (GMT -5).
The White House Cautions Israel Over New Settlements
Snapchat Finally Files for an IPO
After many rumblings in the last year that an initial public offering was in the works, Snap Inc., the parent company of Snapchat, has officially filed for a public offering. The filing unveils numbers that Snapchat has been rather secretive about, including its net revenue, at $404 million, and its losses, at $515 million, for 2016. That net loss might be a concern for many investors, who have already taken note of language in the filing that the company has “incurred operating losses in the past, expect to incur operating losses in the future, and may never achieve or maintain profitability.”
Snapchat, a photo-sharing platform and media company, reported 161 million active users a day worldwide—a number that carries weight in social-media IPOs where investors are especially keen to size up whether a company has potential to become as widely used as Facebook. Last year, Wall Street experienced an IPO drought with few tech IPOs as well as poor returns. Many are hoping Snapchat’s IPO will give the market a jolt in 2017. Though the company is currently seeking to raise $3 billion, the valuation for when Snapchat goes public in March has been estimated as high as $20 to $25 billion, which would make it one of the largest IPOs in years.
U.S. Condemns Russia for Stoking Ukraine Violence
Nikki Haley spent her first public remarks in front of the United Nations Security Council as the U.S. ambassador condemning Russia for its role in the deadly conflict in eastern Ukraine. Haley, who started her role last week, said Russian-backed rebels have trapped thousands of civilians and cut off water and power. She called it a “Russian occupation,” adding, “We do want to better our relations with Russia. However, the dire situation in eastern Ukraine is one that demands clear and strong condemnation of Russian actions.” Haley also called for an end to Russian occupation in Crimea, saying sanctions will remain in place until Russian forces leave. Haley emphasized that it was “unfortunate” that she had to condemn Russia. Indeed, President Trump has called on closer relations with the country and its president, Vladimir Putin. This position, though, has been at odds with other Republicans, including Senator John McCain, who told Trump in a recent letter that Putin was “moving quickly to test you as commander in chief.” The U.S., under the Obama administration, provided assistance to Ukrainian forces.
Uber CEO Steps Down From Trump Advisory Council
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick announced Thursday he plans to step down from President Trump’s economic advisory council, citing criticism by those who saw his involvement as an endorsement of the administration’s policies. “Earlier today I spoke briefly with the president about the immigration executive order and its issues for our community,” Kalanick wrote to Uber employees in an email obtained by The New York Times. “I also let him know that I would not be able to participate on his economic council. Joining the group was not meant to be an endorsement of the president or his agenda but unfortunately it has been misinterpreted to be exactly that.” The ride-sharing company faced backlash when, as more than a thousand people descended on John F. Kennedy International Airport to protest President Trump’s executive order on immigration, it decided to lift its surge-pricing. As my colleague Ian Bogost noted, the decision was interpreted as an intentional move by Uber to profit from the immigration order and break up the New York Taxi Workers Alliance strike on JFK opposing the executive action, which lead to the popularity of the hashtag #DeleteUber as a call for Uber users to delete their accounts. Kalanick said in a statement that Uber had no intention of breaking up the strike and reaffirmed his opposition to Trump’s executive order, offering to aid drivers affected by the ban.
Theresa May Unveils Plan for Brexit
British Prime Minister Theresa May revealed Thursday the “white paper” detailing her plans for Britain’s formal exit from the European Union. The 75-page document, titled “The United Kingdom’s Exit from and New Partnership with the European Union,” echoes principles outlined by May in a speech earlier this month, including securing free-trade deals with the EU, establishing trade deals with other countries, and controlling immigration while also remaining open to “international talent.” The document’s release comes a day after Parliament voted 498-114 to grant May approval to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Charter, which would begin the two year process of leaving the bloc.
Correctional Officer Killed in Delaware Prison Hostage Situation
Delaware Governor John Carney identified Thursday the corrections officer who was killed in a hostage situation in the state’s largest male corrections facility as Sergeant Steven Floyd, a 16-year veteran of the Department of Corrections. Carney said the state “will leave no stone unturned” to determine who was responsible for the incident Wednesday, in which four corrections workers and an unknown number of inmates were taken hostage at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center by an unknown number of inmates, prompting a state-wide prison lockdown. Two of the corrections workers and several inmates were freed Wednesday. Police were able to breach the building where the hostages were being held Thursday morning, and said one of the corrections workers was found dead, while the other was said to be alert and responsive. Though it is unclear exactly what prompted the hostage situation, inmates at the prison reportedly made a phone call to the News Journal listing the hostage-takers demands, including addressing issues such as “improper sentencing orders” and “oppression towards the inmates.” A second phone call by the inmates to the Delaware newspaper blamed President Trump for the situation, adding: “Donald Trump. Everything that he did. All the things that he’s doing now. We know that the institution is going to change for the worse.”
This story is developing and we’ll update it as we learn more.