Benjamin Netanyahu will be leaving the Israeli prime minister’s post after 12 years in power as the country’s legislature voted to swear in a new ‘change’ government on Sunday.
The new government was supported by 60 out of 120 MPs in the Knesset, while 59 voted against it. The only lawmaker to abstain was Said al-Harumi, of the pro-Palestinian United Arab List party.
Naftali Bennett, the leader of the Yamina alliance and one of the key figures in the ‘change’ coalition, has been sworn in as the new Israeli prime minister, replacing Netanyahu.
The landmark vote took place after a tense session in the Knesset, which saw Bennett constantly heckled by Netanyahu’s supporters during his speech. Bennett’s key ally, Yair Lapid, decided to forgo his speech completely, due to the behavior of his opponents, some of whom had to be removed from the chamber by security.
When Netanyahu spoke, he claimed that Israel will be getting a “weak government” with the ‘change’ coalition. He insisted that Bennett, who is going to become the next PM, “doesn’t have the global standing” and “credibility” to counter the Jewish state’s archrival, Iran, adding that Tehran would be celebrating after the vote.
The country’s longest-serving prime minister also accused Bennett of perpetrating the “greatest fraud in Israel’s history,” recalling that the Yamina alliance leader had categorically ruled out a partnership with Lapid ahead of the election. But now, in accordance with the agreement involving eight anti-Netanyahu parties, Lapid will choose a successor to Bennett as PM in 2023.
The appointment of the ‘change’ government is expected to end a long-running political stalemate in Israel. The country has seen four elections since 2009 as ruling coalitions involving Netanyahu’s Likud party kept falling apart. This deadlock also saw Israel left without a state budget for more than a year.
Netanyahu has led Israel since 2009, steering the country to the right, peddling the Iranian threat and withering the peace process with the Palestinians. His final years in office were marred by a corruption scandal as the PM was indicted on charges of fraud, bribery and breach of public trust over accusations that he accepted expensive gifts from businessmen and made deals with media bosses for favorable coverage.
The 71-year-old’s response to the coronavirus pandemic was also harshly criticized for draconian restrictions and his reluctance to fulfill a promise to assist those most affected by the curbs.
Protests demanding Netanyahu’s resignation have recently been attracting thousands of people. The latest such rally took place in Jerusalem on Saturday, when numerous opponents of the prime minister celebrated their victory in anticipation of the Knesset vote.
Netanyahu is leaving office shortly after one of the most serious Israeli-Palestinian flare-ups in years. In May, the IDF and Gaza-based armed group Hamas exchanged fire for 11 days in a row, resulting in the deaths of 248 Palestinians, including 66 children, in Gaza, and 12 fatalities in Israel, two of whom were children.
Nigeria Detains Israel Filmmakers for second week without charges
The three Israeli filmmakers arrested by the State Security Service (SSS) will spend the second week in detention without being charged to court by the Nigerian government.
The Israelis were taken in by Nigeria’s secret police over allegations that they supported the activities of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
Peoples Gazette had reported that a Zionist activist, Rudy Rochman, filmmaker Noam Leibman and French-Israeli Journalist E. David Benaym were arrested on July 9, when they visited Ogidi village, Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra State to shoot a documentary.
They took off from Ben Gurion Airport, Israel on July 5 and arrived in Nigeria the following day to film the documentary, “We Were Never Lost”, which explores Jewish communities in African countries such as Kenya, Madagascar, Uganda, and Nigeria.
Their arrest came on the heels of the repatriation of IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, who in 2018 publicly declared that he “owed his survival to the state of Israel.”
The crew which was arrested at a synagogue during Friday night services on July 9 and subsequently taken to Abuja are also said to be without legal representation in detention.
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Times of Israel reported that one of the men entered Nigeria on a French passport, and the other two on American passports, making it difficult for the Israeli embassy to get involved at the onset. They will now spend the second Shabbat, a symbolic day of rest for the Jews, in custody of Nigerian security forces.
The families of the trio alleged that political groups (in Nigeria) twisted the gifting of a Torah scroll to a local community to claim it constitutes support for separatist political ambitions.
“The filmmaking crew thought it would be a nice gesture to bring several gifts with cultural symbolism to the communities it planned to visit,” their families said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, members of non-state political groups have hijacked for their own purposes images of the filmmakers gifting a Torah to a local community,” the families charged.
They also maintained that they were working with the U.S., Israeli and French embassies on the matter, and “We hope that the DSS will quickly conclude what the facts support.”
The report said SSS released one of the detainees, Mr Benaym to the French Embassy on Tuesday night to receive some medical attention, “with the intention of having him return to DSS custody the next day to continue the investigation.”
A spokesman for the SSS had declined comments about the filmmakers’ arrest and claims of torture.
German floods kill at least 133, search for survivors continues
Rescue workers searched flood-ravaged parts of western Germany for survivors on Saturday as water levels remained high in many towns and houses continued to collapse in the country’s worst natural disaster in half a century.
At least 133 people have died in the flooding, including some 90 people in the Ahrweiler district south of Cologne, according to police estimates on Saturday. Hundreds of people are still missing.
Around 700 residents were evacuated late on Friday after a dam broke in the town of Wassenberg near Cologne, authorities said.
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Over the past several days the floods, which have mostly hit the states of Rhineland Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia, have cut off entire communities from power and communications.
The flooding has also hit parts of Belgium and the Netherlands. At least 20 people have died in Belgium.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Armin Laschet, state premier of North Rhine-Westphalia, were scheduled to visit Erftstadt, one of the hardest hit towns, on Saturday.
Laschet is ruling CDU party’s candidate in September’s general election. The devastation of the floods could intensify the debate over climate change ahead of the vote.
Scientists have long said that climate change will lead to heavier downpours. But determining its role in these relentless downpours will take at least several weeks to research, scientists said on Friday.
We Won’t Enforce New Mask Mandate – LA County Sheriff
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Friday he will not use his department to enforce a mandatory indoor mask requirement set to take effect this weekend amid a spike in COVID-19 cases across the county since its reopening.
On Thursday, the county Department of Public Health revived a requirement that masks be worn indoors regardless of vaccination status, a month after California dropped its statewide mask mandate for vaccinated people.
“We’re not where we need to be for the millions at risk of infection here in Los Angeles County, and waiting to do something will be too late, given what we’re seeing,” L.A. County Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis said in a virtual briefing with reporters.
In a statement, Villanueva said forcing those who are vaccinated or who have contracted COVID-19 to wears masks indoors “is not backed by science and contradicts the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.”
“The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (DPH) has authority to enforce the order, but the underfunded/defunded Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will not expend our limited resources and instead ask for voluntary compliance,” he said. “We encourage the DPH to work collaboratively with the Board of Supervisors and law enforcement to establish mandates that are both achievable and supported by science.”
Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathy Barger also voiced her opposition to the order.
“I am concerned by rising cases, but I don’t believe the mask mandate will help efforts to stress vaccine efficacy and compel unvaccinated residents to get vaccinated,” she tweeted Friday. “LA County should remain aligned with the State instead of creating confusion and disagreement at the local level.”
Fox News has reached out to the Department of Public Health but has not heard back.
The new mandate goes into effect at 11:59 p.m. Saturday. All indoor spaces, including gyms, retail stores, large events, offices and restaurants – when not eating or drinking – will require the wearing of a mask.
It was not clear how long health officials plan to keep the order. David said transmission of the coronavirus has steadily increased since the county’s June 15 reopening. The Delta variant, which is more contagious than other stains, has raised concerns from health officials, as well.
On Friday, the Public Health Department said the COVID-19 positivity rate increased 700% in one month – jumping from 0.5% to 3.7%. The agency urged residents to get vaccinated.
“The vaccines can protect you from serious illness, hospitalization and death,” it tweeted.
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