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‘Poor Dog And Dwarf’: North Korean Diplomat Slams Japan’s PM

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North Korea missile launches
File Picture: A look at every North Korean missile test in 2017

Slamming Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for condemning North Korea’s missile launches at an ASEAN-related meeting, North Korea’s ambassador for ties with Tokyo has threatened it with “serious disaster” if it persists in “provoking” North Korea, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.

Song Il-ho, the North Korean ambassador for ties with Japan, unleashed a spectacular barrage of distinctly non-diplomatic language toward Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in a statement published by KCNA Thursday.

Calling Abe as “idiot and villain”, the diplomat pointed out Abe’s inability to make a distinction between North Korea’s “super-large multiple rocket launchers” and a ballistic missile.

Song mocked Abe for allegedly dreaming of “making Japan a military power”, despite his apparent inability to distinguish between different types of armaments, calling him an “under-wit” for resorting to clichéd words such as “provocation”, “outrage”, “violation”, “abduction”, and “pressure”.

The ambassador claimed that with Abe as leader, Japan is “censured as a ‘politically small nation’, ‘sinking island country’, and a ‘gloomy, desolate country’ by the world”, adding that the prime minister himself is being treated by the international community as a “poor dog and a dwarf” that “fails to enter the international political arena”.

The ambassador went on to mock Abe for “knocking on the door of Pyongyang with caution”, calling for “no-strings-attached talks” while simultaneously “hurling a torrent of abuse at just measures of the DPRK for self-defence”, saying the prime minister shouldn’t “dream of crossing the threshold of Pyongyang”.

If Japan persists in “provoking DPRK”, with what the ambassador called a desire to once again feel the “uneasiness and horror with which they trembled when a projectile flew over Japan”, then Pyongyang will “do what it wishes to do, indifferent to the island nation”, Song said.

The ambassador was apparently referring to a 2017 North Korean test in which a ballistic missile flew between Japan’s two largest islands of Honshu and Hokkaido before dropping into the ocean.

“Japan had better know well that it will face a more serious disaster and ruin if it keeps on running reckless”, the ambassador said.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has strongly condemned North Korea’s missile launches at an ASEAN-related meeting, saying they are in clear violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Abe also urged the leaders of countries in ASEAN Plus Three — China, South Korea, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and Japan — to fully implement U.N. sanctions on Pyongyang to achieve denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the Japanese government said.

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Israeli PM Netanyahu defiant after corruption indictment

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Jerusalem : Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday became the country’s first prime minister to be indicted in office, on corruption charges, but defiantly condemned the “coup” against him and vowed to hold onto power.

The shock announcement compounded the political chaos gripping Israel, which has been without a government for months and faces the prospect of its third election in a year.

After months of suspense, Israel’s longest-serving premier was charged by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit with bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

Netanyahu immediately hit back in an often vitriolic 15-minute speech, accusing the judiciary, police and others of plotting against him with “false” and “politically motivated” allegations.

“What is going on here is an attempt to stage a coup against the prime minister,” he charged in a televised address.

“The object of the investigations was to oust the right from government.”

He vowed to stay on as interim premier despite potential court dates and intense political pressure.

“I will continue to lead this country, according to the letter of the law,” he said.

Political rival Benny Gantz, who had been trying to form a coalition government, said it was a “very sad” day for Israel to indict a leader, but called on Netanyahu to “step down from his position and focus on the charges against him”.

“There is no coup in Israel, but rather those that have barricaded themselves in power,” he said.

  • ‘Hard and sad day’ –

The 70-year-old premier, nicknamed “Mr Security” and “King Bibi”, has been in power since 2009 and dominates Israel’s political scene.

The indictment comes with crunch talks due on forming a government, after two inconclusive general elections left the country’s political system deadlocked.

Netanyahu is not legally required to resign unless he is convicted and any subsequent appeals process is exhausted, but political pressure is likely to be intense.

He may now ask the parliament, or Knesset, to grant him immunity from prosecution.

The charges against Netanyahu range from receiving gifts worth thousands of dollars to a deal to change regulatory frameworks in favour of a media group in exchange for positive coverage.

Mandelblit said it was a “hard and sad day” for Israel to indict a leader, but it showed no citizen was above the law.

“The citizens of Israel, all of us, and myself, look up to the elected officials, and first and foremost to the prime minister,” Mandelblit said.

“Law enforcement is not a choice. It is not a matter of right or left. It’s not a matter of politics.”

On a day of high political drama, dozens of Netanyahu supporters gathered outside his official residence, many holding pictures of the PM and slogans attacking Mandelblit.

“We are all Netanyahu,” one sign read.

But on Twitter, many hailed the day’s events, and “happy day” quickly became Israel’s top trending phrase.

  • ‘Fight for political life’ –

A perennial fighter, Netanyahu has outlived many political rivals. Hugh Lovatt, Israel-Palestine analyst at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said he wouldn’t give up power easily.

“Now more than ever Netanyahu will be fighting for his political and personal life,” Lovatt said.

Of the three cases against Netanyahu, the third, known as Case 4,000, is seen as the most serious and carries bribery, fraud and breach of trust charges.

He is alleged to have negotiated with Shaul Elovitch, the controlling shareholder of Israeli telecommunications giant Bezeq, to secure positive coverage on his Walla! news site in exchange for policies benefiting Bezeq.

Elovitch and his wife were also indicted.

Case 1,000 involves allegations Netanyahu and his family received gifts including luxury cigars, champagne and jewellery from wealthy individuals, estimated to be worth more than 700,000 shekels ($200,000, 185,000 euros), in exchange for financial or personal favours.

Another, Case 2,000, concerns allegations Netanyahu sought a deal with the owner of the Yediot Aharonot newspaper that would have seen it give him more favourable coverage.

  • Political turmoil –

The next steps in the process remain unclear, with no trial date yet set.

The developments were set to only deepen the political turmoil in Israel, which has been without a stable majority government for much of the year.

Neither Likud leader Netanyahu nor rival Gantz, head of the centrist Blue and White party, have been able to form a coalition government following deadlocked elections in April and September.

Netanyahu has remained interim prime minister.

The Knesset has 21 days remaining to find a candidate capable of commanding the support of the majority of the country’s 120 MPs, and the indictment is likely to strengthen former army chief Gantz’s claims.

Gantz has reportedly tried to woo Likud MPs to join him in a broad national unity government, but so far there have been no takers.

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Middle East

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.

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Politics

Speculation over Muralitharan becoming Lanka Governor

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Muttiah Muralitharan

Colombo, Nov 21 (IANS) Muttiah Muralitharan, the famous Sri Lanka off-spinner of yesteryear, is tipped as a governor of Northern Province following the presidential elections that gave a clear majority to Gotabaya Rajapaksa, a former defence minister of the island nation who in his term defeated Tamil militants headed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, media reports here said, citing anger in the Tamil minority community.

Murli, who scalped 800 Test wickets, is actually an Indian Tamil from Kandy. The 47-year-old had earlier thrown his weight behind Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who was on Monday sworn in as the Sri Lankan president a day after he was declared the winner in the closely fought election.

According to reports, Murali will likley join Rajapaksa presidency as the governor of the Northern province, which has a huge majority of Sri Lankan Tamils.

While no official confirmation is out so far, local Tamils are believed to oppose Murali’s appointement as the former cricketer had backed Gotabaya when he was the Defence Secretary between 2005 and 2015 and was accused of war crimes.

The Tamils, both from India and Sri Lanka, had raised their voice for his arrest and prosecution. However, Sri Lankan government had then rejected the demand for his arrest.

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