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US Backs Israel On Settlements And The PM's Pledge For Forces Personnel in Scotland

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US Backs Israel On Settlements

The United States has reversed a position it has held for decades, by declaring that Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank are not illegal. 

The American Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, said the decision reflected the reality on the ground.  

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said the move threatened to replace international law with the law of the jungle.

The Israeli military says it has intercepted four rockets fired from Syria towards northern Israel. There have also been reports of explosions in the Syrian capital, Damascus.

PM Pledge To End North-South Forces Pay Divide 

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged to protect forces personnel from "unfair" taxes in Scotland if the Conservatives win the election.

Mr Johnson will announce the measure later today, when he'll say those serving in the military are being paid as much as £2,200 less than others in the rest of the UK.

The SNP defence spokesman, Stewart McDonald, called the move a cynical stunt.

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Taliban Prisoner Swap

Three Taliban commanders who are part of a prisoner swap for two Western hostages held by the militant group have reportedly landed in Qatar.

Taliban sources have told the Reuters news agency that two university professors, one American and one Australian, will be released later today.

The swap comes as part of wider plans from the Afghan government to secure direct talks with the Islamist militant group, which has previously refused to engage with what they believe to be a “puppet” regime.