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Israeli prosecutor accuses Benjamin Netanyahu of fraud, abuse of trust

Both Bezeq and Walla are controlled by the same businessman Shaul Elovitch, who is also charged with his wife Iris.

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Netanyahu Israel

Jerusalem, Nov 22 : Israel’s attorney general has charged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in connection with three separate cases.

Attorney general Avijai Mandelblit formalized the indictment against the acting leader on Thursday, which is a new blow to the unstable and gridlocked Israeli political landscape, Efe news reported.

The prosecution has accused the head of government in connection with three cases, known as Case 1,000, Case 2,000 and Case 3,000, the Ministry of Justice said in a statement.

Mandelblit is expected to present all the allegations in public at a press conference on Thursday evening.

In all three cases, Netanyahu has been accused of fraud and abuse of trust, and in addition in Case 4,000 he is alleged to have committed bribery, the most serious accusation that puts his position in question.

In Case 4,000, also called the Bezeq Case, Netanyahu is accused of having done favors between 2012 and 2017 to Israeli telephony giant Bezeq in exchange for favorable coverage of him and his wife Sara on the Walla news website.

Both Bezeq and Walla are controlled by the same businessman Shaul Elovitch, who is also charged with his wife Iris.

In Case 1,000 he is suspected of accepting luxurious gifts from two millionaires for him and his family, including expensive cigars, jewelry, travel and French champagne worth almost $290,000, in exchange for favors.

Case 2,000 relates to an alleged pact attempt with Arnon Mozes, who is also accused, editor of the national Israeli daily newspaper Yediot Aharonot, to get more positive coverage of him in exchange for damaging the distribution of newspaper rival Israel Hayom.

As a defendant, Netanyahu would not be obliged to leave his post as prime minister or deputy, but if he was convicted, parliament could vote for his dismissal if the crime involves “moral depravity” as is the case with the bribery accusation, according to Israeli law.

Mandelblit called a hearing in October to receive the defense’s arguments before finalizing the indictment that now opens the door to a trial.

After publishing the accusation, the prosecutor’s office sent a copy of the document to the Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein “in order to allow the prime minister to notify the Knesset if he wishes to request immunity,” something that a specially created committee should deliberate but that cannot be formed without a new government.

The accusation came amid a political deadlock in Israel which has been without an executive since the September elections.

Middle East

Turkey to extend wage support for another month amid COVID-19

Turkey conducted 51,014 tests for coronavirus in the last 24 hours, bringing the overall number of tests carried out so far to 3,331,158, he stated.

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Ankara, June 30 : Turkey will extend a wage support system for one more month to ease the impact of COVID-19, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced.

The government will also extend a financial aid program for low-income families for one more month, Erdogan told reporters after a cabinet meeting on Monday, Xinhua news agency reported.

The wage support system, which covers the workers whose working hours are reduced by their employers, was introduced in March for three months just after Turkey introduced strict measures to tackle the virus outbreak.

The Turkish president also said Turkey will deliver an aid package to Iraq on Tuesday.

Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca on Monday reported 1,374 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total number of infections in the country to 198,613.

In a single day, 18 more patients died, taking the death toll to 5,115 in Turkey, the minister tweeted.

Turkey conducted 51,014 tests for coronavirus in the last 24 hours, bringing the overall number of tests carried out so far to 3,331,158, he stated.

Koca said that a total of 171,809 patients have recovered in the country since the outbreak after 1,214 more recoveries were added in the last 24 hours.

Meanwhile, 1,018 patients are being treated at the intensive care units and 375 being intubated, he added.

Turkey reported the first COVID-19 case in the country on March 11.

Turkey and China have supported each other in the fight against COVID-19. Chinese doctors and medical experts held a video conference with Turkish counterparts to share China”s experience in treating coronavirus patients, protecting medical workers, and controlling the spread of the virus.

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Middle East

Netanyahu, Gantz feud over West Bank annexation plan

The annexation plan was accepted with widespread condemnations by the Palestinians, most of the Arab world, and the international community.

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Netanyahu and Gantz

Jerusalem, June 30 : Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main coalition partner, Benny Gantz, were at odds over the timing of the country’s plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank.

On Monday, Netanyahu and Gantz, who serves as alternate Prime Minister and Defence Minister, held separate meetings with Avi Berkowitz, US President Donald Trump’s envoy for international negotiations over the annexation plan, reports Xinhua news agency.

Netanyahu had already declared that he wants to begin imposing Israeli sovereignty over Jordan Valley, part of the West Bank, as soon as July 1, in accordance with Trump’s Middle East peace plan.

But Gantz told a meeting of lawmakers with his centrist Blue and White party that “anything not related to the struggle against the coronavirus will wait”.

“Before making any political moves, we need to help the public to get back to earn a living with dignity,” Gantz said.

In the afternoon, Netanyahu was quoted as dismissing Gantz”s remarks.

He told a meeting of lawmakers with his right-wing Likud party that he is working “discretely” with envoys of Trump, his close ally.

“The issue does not depend on Blue and White,” he said, according to local media reports.

Under their power-sharing deal, both Netanyahu and Gantz hold veto power over key government decisions.

However, the deal allows Netanyahu to bring an annexation proposal to the cabinet starting from July 1, even without Gantz approval.

The annexation plan was accepted with widespread condemnations by the Palestinians, most of the Arab world, and the international community.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet urged Israel on Monday to halt the “illegal” plan.

“I am deeply concerned that even the most minimalist form of annexation would lead to increased violence and loss of life, as walls are erected, security forces deployed and the two populations brought into closer proximity,” Bachelet said in a statement.

Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East war and has controlled the territory ever since, despite international criticism.

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Middle East

Iran issues arrest warrants for US President Trump for killing Soleimani

An Iranian Prosecutor said 36 individuals have been identified in connection with the drone strike that killed Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani on January 3.

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Donald Trump

In an extraordinary move, Iran has issued an arrest warrant against US President Donald Trump and has asked Interpol for help in detaining him for his role in the killing of a top Iranian general in Baghdad earlier this year.

Tehran Prosecutor General Ali Alqasi-Mehr said that 36 individuals have been identified in connection with the drone strike that killed Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani on January 3.

“36 individuals who cooperated, collaborated, and participated in the assassination of Hajj Qassem, including political and military authorities of the US and other countries, have been identified,” Alqasi-Mehr said on Monday, according to ISNA.

Their arrest warrant has been issued and announced to Interpol, he added.

The prosecutor general explained that Trump is at the top of the list and he’ll be facing prosecution even after his term as president comes to an end. He, however, did not identify other individuals in the list.

France-based Interpol is yet to respond to the Iranian request.

Iran has requested that a “red notice” be put out for Trump and the others, Alqasi-Mehr said. Red notice represents the highest level arrest request issued by Interpol.

Soleimani, who oversaw the Iran Revolutionary Guard’s elite Quds Force, was killed in a drone strike on January 3 near Baghdad’s international airport.

The strike took the tension between the two countries to another level and was followed by Iran retaliating with a ballistic missile strike targeting American troops in Iraq.

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