Netanyahu gives up role as Israel’s foreign minister

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem February 17, 2019. (AP)
Updated 18 February 2019
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Netanyahu gives up role as Israel’s foreign minister

  • An advocacy group, the Movement for Quality Government, went to court to press Netanyahu to stop serving as foreign minister as well

JERUSALEM:Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday handed over his role as foreign minister to intelligence minister Israel Katz, giving up the portfolio he has held since 2015.
Netanyahu’s decision to appoint Katz as acting foreign minister came after an advocacy group, the Movement for Quality Government, went to court to press the prime minister to stop serving as foreign minister as well.
Government officials said Katz, who will remain intelligence minister and also serves as transport minister, will hold the foreign affairs portfolio through the upcoming parliamentary election on April 9. Katz is a member of Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party,
In addition to the premiership, Netanyahu still holds the defense portfolio, which he assumed after his former far-right coalition partner Avigdor Lieberman quit that post in November. Netanyahu is also health minister.
The advocacy group that pushed for a new foreign minister had argued that Netanyahu’s workload was untenable and further harmed a foreign ministry beset by budget disputes.
Netanyahu’s defenders have noted his personal rapport with the US and Russian leaders and regular tours abroad.
“Together with the prime minister we will continue to lead the State of Israel’s foreign policy to new achievements,” Katz, 63, said on Twitter.


Daesh defeated, ‘caliphate’ eliminated: US-backed SDF

Updated 26 min 28 sec ago
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Daesh defeated, ‘caliphate’ eliminated: US-backed SDF

  • The victory marks the end of the militants’ self-declared “caliphate”
  • The SDF has been battling to capture Baghouz at the Iraqi border for weeks

BEIRUT: Daesh has been defeated at its final shred of territory of Baghouz in Syria, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said on Saturday, announcing the end of its self-declared “caliphate” that once spanned a third of Iraq and Syria.
The SDF declared the “total elimination of (the) so-called caliphate,” Mustafa Bali, head of the SDF media office, wrote on Twitter.
“Baghouz has been liberated. The military victory against Daesh has been accomplished,” he wrote.
The SDF has been battling to capture Baghouz at the Iraqi border for weeks.
“We renew our pledge to continue the war and to pursue their remnants until their complete elimination,” he wrote.
Though the defeat of Daesh at Baghouz ends the group’s grip over the extremist quasi-state straddling Syria and Iraq that it declared in 2014, it remains a threat.
Some of its fighters still hold out in Syria’s remote central desert and in Iraqi cities they have slipped into the shadows, staging sudden shootings or kidnappings and awaiting a chance to rise again.
The US believes the group’s leader, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, is in Iraq. He stood at the pulpit of the great medieval mosque in Mosul in 2014 to declare himself caliph, sovereign over all Muslims.