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Al-Aqsa status quo

The UN Security Council has voiced concern over the status quo of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound after a far-right Israeli minister visited the site in occupied Al-Quds earlier this week. Security Council members reaffirmed the need to maintain the status quo at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound. They met on Thursday, as anger boils among Palestinians over the Israeli minister’s visit. They see such visits as provocations aimed at turning the mosque into a Jewish temple. That’s because, the decades-old status quo of the Al-Aqsa mosque compound allows only Muslims to worship there. Palestinians want the Security Council to take action.

Russia-Ukraine war

Russia announces a ceasefire in Ukraine, calling on Kiev to do the same to let people attend services on Orthodox Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The Kremlin says the truce will hold from noon on Friday until Saturday midnight local time. The announcement comes hours after Turkey’s president called on Moscow to declare a "unilateral ceasefire". Recep Tayyip Erdogan made the request in a phone call with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. The Russian president says Moscow is open to serious talks over Ukraine if Kiev accepts the "new territorial realities". Putin has also censured the West for playing a destructive role in the Ukraine war by arming Kiev and providing it with intelligence. Ukraine says Russia’s declaration of a ceasefire over Orthodox Christmas is "hypocrisy". It says Russia must leave the territories it has captured before any temporary truce.

US House speakership

Moving on to the United States where the House of Representatives fail for the third time to elect a speaker. The stalemate comes as House Republicans remain divided on Kevin McCarthy’s bid. He’s the Republican leader at the lower chamber of the US congress. A group of 20 hardline Republicans are refusing to give him 218 votes necessary to win the post. They say they don’t trust McCarthy to fight for the restrictions they want to impose on President Joe Biden, and the democratic-held senate. McCarthy has offered concessions to his opponents to get their votes. The house will now meet again later on Friday to elect a speaker. The stalemate has caused dysfunction unseen at the House since 1860.

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