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.


Algeria opposition propose six-month political transition

Updated 24 min 23 sec ago
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Algeria opposition propose six-month political transition

  • The roadmap stipulates the creation of a ‘presidential body’ that would run the country during the transition period
  • Algeria’s opposition however has been marginalized by the protest movement

ALGIERS: A group of Algerian opposition parties and unions proposed on Saturday a “roadmap” to end a political crisis and weeks of protests sparked by the veteran president’s bid to stay in power.

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika said on February 22 he would run for a fifth term in April 18 elections, despite concerns about his ability to rule, triggering an outcry in the country which has since been gripped by demonstrations.

The 82-year-old, who uses a wheelchair and has rarely appeared in public since suffering a stroke in 2013, earlier this month said he would pull out of the race.

But he also postponed the elections, meaning he will stay in power until polls are held.

Bouteflika’s current mandate expires on April 28 and proposals agreed at a meeting between opposition parties and unions call for a six-month transition period from that date.

The roadmap stipulates the creation of a “presidential body” that would run the country during the transition period and which would be comprised of “national figures known for their credibility, integrity and competence.”

But members of the body should not run in future presidential elections nor back any candidates in the poll, the statement seen by AFP said.

The proposals were made during a meeting attended namely by the party of Bouteflika’s key rival Ali Benflis, a former prime minister who has joined the opposition, and the main Islamist party, the Movement for the Society of Peace.

Algeria’s opposition however has been marginalized by the protest movement, which has been largely led by students angry with the country’s political system.

The proposals come a day after hundreds of thousands of Algerians demonstrated nationwide for a fifth consecutive Friday, demanding that Bouteflika stand down and calling for regime change.

On Saturday, around 1,000 lawyers rallied in the capital Algiers chanting “we’re fed up” with this government and calling on the political system to “go away.”