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New Israeli govt sworn in after 508 days of impasse

Netanyahu was sworn in as Prime Minister and will head the government for the fifth term of his political career.

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Netanyahu and Gantz

Jerusalem, May 18 : Israels 35th government was sworn in at the Knesset (Parliament), bringing an end to a 508-day political impasse.

On Sunday night, the Knesset voted 73-46 in favour of the new coalition government agreed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his former rival, Benny Gantz, reports The Times of Israel.

Netanyahu was sworn in as Prime Minister and will head the government for the fifth term of his political career.

Gantz, also the Chairman of the Blue and White Party, was sworn in as “alternate Prime Minister and future Prime Minister” as well as Defence Minister.

Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving leader who was first elected as Prime Minister in 1996 and has served three consecutive terms since 2009, promised to hand over the premiership to Gantz on November 17, 2021.

“We established the precise terms under which our agreement will be fulfilled and will not be fulfilled,” Netanyahu said later in a Channel 12 interview, amid widespread scepticism that he will honour the deal.

“I will fulfil exactly, but exactly, what is written in the agreement. It is my intention and my goal to do so. And there is no reason for me to say anything to you but, yes, that’s what we will do.”

In addition to Netanyahu and Gantz, 32 ministers were sworn in, including the first female ultra-Orthodox Minister, Omer Yankelevich (Diaspora affairs), and the first Ethiopia-born Minister, Pnina Tamano-Shata (immigration and absorption), in Israel’s history, said The Times of Israel report.

Totaling 73 lawmakers, the coalition will include 35 MKs from the Likud party, 16 from the Blue and White party, nine from the Shas party, seven from the United Torah Judaism party, two from the Labor party, two from the Derech Eretz party, one from the Jewish Home party and one from the Gesher party.

Speaking at the cabinet’s first meeting, which took place immediately after the swearing-in ceremony, Netanyahu told the new Ministers that the COVID-19 pandemic topped the government’s agenda.

The second mission would be to pass a state budget and revive the economy, while the third item would be to combat Iran, he said.

The fourth was fighting the war crimes probe in the International Criminal Court and the fifth was the diplomatic issue of West Bank annexation.

Gantz spoke after Netanyahu, saying Israel was ending the “worst political crisis in its history” and calling for an end to “the era of incitement” and the start of an “era of reconciliation”.

He said he would do everything so that all Israeli citizens — Jewish or Arab, heterosexual or LGBT — would “feel at home”.

Meanwhile, the new government’s swearing-in comes just a week before Netanyahu’s criminal trial over his suspected corruption.

His trial on charges of bribery, breach of trust and fraud will start on May 27, but he denies any wrong-doing, slamming the allegations as part of “a witch hunt”.

Middle East

UNSC fails to extend authorization for aid access to Syria

The current authorization for the cross-border mechanism, agreed at the last minute in January after lengthy negotiations, expires on Friday.

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United Nations, July 11 : The UN Security Council (UNSC) has failed on its third attempt this week to extend its authorization for the access of lifesaving food, medicine and shelter into Syria from Turkey.

Meeting via video-teleconference, the Council took up a draft resolution, presented by Belgium and Germany, that would have kept humanitarian aid flowing through the Bab al-Salam and Bab al-Hawa crossing points until January 10, 2021, reports Xinhua news agency.

Thirteen of the Council”s 15 members voted in favour, but the text failed to be adopted owing to the negative votes cast by Russia and China, two permanent council members with veto power.

The current authorization for the cross-border mechanism, agreed at the last minute in January after lengthy negotiations, expires on Friday.

Belgium and Germany, the council”s penholders on the humanitarian aspects of the Syrian conflict, had initially put forward a largely similar draft that would have extended the so-called cross-border mechanism, for a full year.

A competing draft resolution from Russia that would have authorized deliveries only through Bab al-Hawa until January 10, 2021, failed to be adopted on Thursday as it lacked the required number of votes.

The result was four in favour (China, Russia, South Africa, Vietnam) to seven against (Belgium, Dominican Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, UK, US), with four abstentions (Indonesia, Niger, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Tunisia).

Bab al-Salam is the humanitarian gateway to northern Aleppo while Bab al-Hawa serves Idlib.

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India

Etihad Begins Special Flights From 6 Indian Destination Between July 12-26

All passengers must have ICA approval from the government of Abu Dhabi before they travel and will not be permitted to check-in without the necessary approvals.

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etihad Airways

New Delhi, July 10 (IANS) Etihad Airways will resume a limited number of special flights from six Indian gateways to Abu Dhabi from July 12 to 26.

The announcement comes a day after partial lifting of international flight restrictions by Indian authorities to allow outbound travel.

“During this period, the airline will operate services to Abu Dhabi from Bengaluru, Chennai, Kochi, Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai to Abu Dhabi,” the company said in a statement.

“All passengers must have ICA approval from the government of Abu Dhabi before they travel and will not be permitted to check-in without the necessary approvals.”

On Thursday, the Centre announced civil aviation authorities of India and the UAE have agreed to operate special repatriation flights between the two countries during July 12-26.

As per the arrangement, chartered flights operated by UAE carriers to bring back Indians from the UAE will be allowed to carry ICA (Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship) approved UAE residents to their native country on their return leg.

Further, Indian carriers operating repatriation flights to bring back Indians from the UAE will be allowed to carry the ICA-approved UAE residents on their onward journey from India to the Gulf country.

“As part of the close strategic partnership between the governments of India and UAE , and with a view to assisting UAE residents who are presently in India to return to UAE, the Civil Aviation Authorities of both countries have agreed to operationalise a special arrangement,” Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri had tweeted.

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Middle East

Targeted killing of Iran’s Soleimani unlawful: UN report

According to the report, the strike near the Baghdad airport on January 3 was in violation of the UN Charter with insufficient evidence provided of an ongoing or imminent attack.

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Soleimani

Geneva, July 10 : Without an actual imminent threat to life, the targeted killing of Iran’s General Qassem Soleimani in an American airstrike earlier this year was unlawful, according to a latest UN report.

Presenting the report to the UN Human Rights Council Thursday on the use of force under drones technology, Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said the US action constituted an arbitrary killing, reports Xinhua news agency.

“In light of the evidence that the US has provided to date, the targeting of General Soleimani, and the deaths of those accompanying him, constitute an arbitrary killing,” Callamard said in her report.

According to the report, the strike near the Baghdad airport on January 3 was in violation of the UN Charter with insufficient evidence provided of an ongoing or imminent attack.

No evidence has been provided that General Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, specifically was planning an imminent attack against US interests, particularly in Iraq, for which immediate action was necessary and would have been justified, the report said.

Also no evidence has been provided that a drone strike in a third country was necessary or that the harm caused to that country was proportionate to the harm allegedly averted, the report added.

Besides Soleimani, the US airstrike also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy head of Iraq”s Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitary forces.

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