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Jerusalem, April 21 (IANS) Benjamin Netanyahu will remain Israels Prime Minister after he agreed to form a national unity government with his main political rival, Benny Gantz, a deal which brings a year-long political crisis to an end.

In a joint statement on Monday night, the ruling center-right Likud Party and the liberal Blue and White Party said: “An agreement for the establishment of a national emergency government is now being signed,” Efe news reported.

The deal comes after three back-to-back elections had failed to yield a clear winner between incumbent Netanyahu, in power since 2009, and former army chief Gantz.

Although the statement did not provide further details, the rivals have reportedly agreed to share the role of prime minister on a rotating basis, with Netanyahu occupying the post for the first 18 months before handing over power to Gantz, who will initially become Minister of Defence.

In a statement on Twitter, Gantz said they had “prevented” a fourth round of elections.

“We will maintain democracy, we will fight against the coronavirus and will protect the citizens of Israel. There is a national emergency government,” Gantz wrote.

Netanyahu, meanwhile, promised “to work to save the lives and livelihoods of Israeli citizens”.

The result of the negotiations is a remarkable turnaround for Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, who has three serious corruption charges pending against him.

Three rounds of elections had already been held with similar results after each poll, but the coronavirus crisis added an extra layer of urgency to the process this time around.

Israel is under a nationwide lockdown with over 13,650 confirmed cases and 173 deaths.

Reports in Israeli media indicate that the cabinet will be split between members of the Likud party and its various junior coalition partners, which include ultra-orthodox and ultra-right wing parties, and the Blue and White alliance, which groups together left-leaning and liberal factions.

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Pakistan marks July 13 as Kashmir Martyrs Day

Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted, saluting the people of Kashmir for fighting against what he called “illegal and oppressive Indian occupation of Jammu and Kashmir”.

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Imran Khan Pakistan PM

Islamabad, July 13 : July 13, 2020 is being marked as Kashmir Martyrs Day in Pakistan with homage being paid to the people of Kashmir, who lost their lives in the revolt against the Dogra dynasty in 1931.

The day is being marked as an opportunity for Pakistan to ponder more on what it calls the ongoing struggle of the people of Kashmir, first during Dogra Maharaja of British colonial rule in the sub-continent 89 years ago and then by the Indian forces.

Pakistan military chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa said the day was declared as national day soon after the birth of India and Pakistan in 1947 and was observed by all sections cutting across political and ideological affiliations.

“Every single drop of blood shed shall not be forgotten nor forgiven,” Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) DG Maj-Gen Babar Iftikhar said in a tweet.

“KashmirMartyrsDay is reminiscent of utmost price paid 4 freedom by brave Kashmiris. Every single drop of blood shed, shall not be forgotten nor forgiven. Decades of Indian atrocities failed 2 suppress insurmountable spirit & legitimate freedom struggle, destined to succeed.”

Prime Minister Imran Khan also tweeted, saluting the people of Kashmir for fighting against what he called “illegal and oppressive Indian occupation of Jammu and Kashmir”.

“Today, on the occasion of Kashmir Martyrs’ Day, we salute the people of Kashmir for their ongoing struggle against the illegal and oppressive Indian occupation of Jammu and Kashmir. The martyrs of July 13, 1931 were the ancestors of today’s Kashmiri resistance,” he said.

On the other hand, Sardar Masood Khan, President of Pakistan Administered Kashmir, has written off any chances of table talks between India and Pakistan, owing to India’s conduct in Kashmir.

He said: “India has changed dynamics of the area unilaterally. So we would not sit with them around the negotiating table.”

Sardar Masood Khan insisted that the issue of Kashmir should not be taken as a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan anymore, adding that the Kashmir issue has been internationalized and multi-lateralized.

“So, I think that we have this new space in the international domain. We should use it, not lose it,” he said.

He declared the Simla Agreement between India and Pakistan as redundant because of “unilateral Indian actions in Jammu and Kashmir”.

Sardar Masood Khan maintained that Pakistan is ready for a third-party intervention and mediation on Kashmir dispute.

“I think that as citizens of Pakistan, we are ready for the diplomacy of any kind. I believe that the starting point of such diplomacy should be the UNSecurity Council resolutions because these were drawn after prolonged deliberations and should not be set aside.

“Further, the Kashmiris should be associated with any direct or indirect negotiations on Kashmir. They are the real party to the dispute,” he added.

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World

Nelson Mandela’s daughter Zindzi dies at 59

State television South African Broadcasting Corporation has reported that Mandela died at a Johannesburg hospital early Monday morning.

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Nelson Mandela daughter Zindzi

Johannesburg, July 13 : Zindzi Mandela, the daughter of South Africa’s anti-apartheid icons Nelson Mandela and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, died here on Monday, according to the country’s public broadcaster SABC reported.

State television South African Broadcasting Corporation has reported that Mandela died at a Johannesburg hospital early Monday morning.

She had been South Africa’s ambassador to Denmark since 2015.

The Mandelas’ daughter came to international prominence in 1985, when the white minority government offered to release Nelson Mandela from prison if he denounced violence perpetrated by his movement, the Africa National Congress, against apartheid, the brutal system of racial discrimination enforced in South Africa at that time.

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”Trump wanted to sell Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria”

Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico in September 2017 and caused an estimated 2,982 fatalities and US $90 billion in damage, according to official data.

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Trump Sell Puerto Rico

Washington, July 13 : US President Donald Trump considered selling Puerto Rico in the aftermath of the destructive Hurricane Maria in 2017, former acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke has told the New York Times.

In an interview with the newspaper on Friday, Duke said that “the president”s initial ideas were more of as a businessman”, Xinhua news agency reported.

“Can we outsource the electricity? Can we sell the island? You know, or divest of that asset?” Trump reportedly said, according to the New York Times interview.

Nonetheless, the idea of selling the US territory was never seriously considered or discussed after it was raised, Duke said.

Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico in September 2017 and caused an estimated 2,982 fatalities and US $90 billion in damage, according to official data.

Trump has criticized Puerto Rican officials for their management of the relief fund that his administration provided for the island”s recovery. In November 2018, White House officials told Congress that Trump didn”t want any additional relief funding to the island.

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