Nujaifi files court case to keep Iraq vice presidency

Updated 18 November 2015
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Nujaifi files court case to keep Iraq vice presidency

BAGHDAD: Iraqi politician Osama Al-Nujaifi filed a court case seeking to remain vice president, a position the prime minister sought to abolish during a reform drive, a judicial statement said Tuesday.
It is the latest in a series of challenges to Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi’s reform efforts, which have run into problems due to the endemic nature of corruption in Iraq and the fact that officials are limiting their own privileges by implementing some changes.
The VP positions, which came with large salaries and security details but few responsibilities, were most recently held by Nujaifi, a former parliament speaker, and ex-premiers Nuri Al-Maliki and Iyad Allawi.
Abadi sought to do away with the job as part of a reform program aimed at curbing corruption and streamlining the government. Nujaifi is seeking “to repeal the cabinet decision to cancel the position of vice president of the republic, and reverse (parliament’s) decision to approve it,” the Higher Judicial Council said.
The Supreme Court adjourned the case until November 24, the statement said. Nujaifi had earlier issued a statement saying he welcomed Abadi’s reform efforts.
His case may be helped by the fact that the constitution mandates the existence of at least one vice president to fill in for the president if he is absent or his post becomes vacant.
It is a provision that would require an amendment to change.
Abadi announced reforms including scrapping the deputy premier and vice president posts, streamlining the Cabinet, cutting salaries for officials and slashing their huge number of guards.


Israel hits Hamas posts in response to arson kites

Updated 59 sec ago
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Israel hits Hamas posts in response to arson kites

  • The strikes came after the heaviest exchange of fire between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza since a 2014 war
  • Israel hit dozens of sites it said belonged to militants in the Gaza Strip

JERUSALEM: An Israeli aircraft hit two Hamas posts in the Gaza Strip on Monday in response to balloons carrying firebombs over the border fence to burn Israeli farmland, the army said. The strikes signaled a tougher Israeli response to the hundreds of balloons and kites carrying firebombs that have been launched from the Gaza Strip since April.
Gazan security sources and residents said the strikes occurred in Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip and caused no injuries.
Israel's army said the strikes targeted an area near where arson balloons were launched.
A spokesman for Israel's fire service said four fires had been started inside Israel on Monday due to the firebombs.
That was significantly less than the average of around 24 per day that had been occurring recently, said fire service spokesman Eli Cohen.
The strikes came after the heaviest exchange of fire between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza since a 2014 war on Saturday.
Those Israeli airstrikes were partially in response to the months of fires started by the kite firebombs, but also over continuing protests and clashes along the Gaza border.
Israel hit dozens of sites it said belonged to militants in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, killing two Palestinian teenagers, while around 200 rockets and mortars were fired at Israel from the Hamas-run enclave.
Hamas announced a ceasefire late Saturday, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the kite fires must stop.
"I have directed the (military) to defeat and stop the terror of incendiary kites and balloons, and we are in the midst of the process," Netanyahu said Monday while visiting the city of Sderot, where four people were wounded when a rocket hit a house on Saturday.
"There is an exchange of blows here. It is not over in one go."
Netanyahu visited a local kindergarten and pledged that Israel would put an end to the rocket fire and a Gaza militant campaign of sending incendiary kites and balloons across the border that have ignited fires damaging Israeli farms and nature reserves.
Hamas will face a "wall of steel" if it keeps up its aggression against Israel, Netanyahu warned, adding however that the threat won't disappear overnight.
"It doesn't end in one strike," Netanyahu said. "We know we are engaged in a lengthy battle."
The government is under pressure from local communities to show zero tolerance to the new threat from flaming kites and balloons, and Netanyahu told local leaders he has instructed the military to halt it completely.
"There is no such thing as a cease-fire that does not include the flaming kites and balloons," he said.
"If this is not understood through my words, it will be understood through the military's actions."
On Sunday evening, the military announced that following a "situation assessment" it reinforced its Iron Dome batteries in central Israel and in the country's south and called up a small number of reserve army soldiers. The Iron Dome shot down more than 20 projectiles over the weekend.