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

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.


Turkish police arrest journalist Altan a week after his release

Updated 13 November 2019

Turkish police arrest journalist Altan a week after his release

  • Altan and the others deny the charges against them
  • On Tuesday a higher court overruled the decision to release Altan, ordering his arrest on grounds that there was a risk of him fleeing

ISTANBUL: Turkish police detained prominent journalist and author Ahmet Altan late on Tuesday, a week after he was released from prison in his retrial on coup-related charges, Istanbul police said.

Before his release last Monday, the 69-year-old had been in jail since his arrest in 2016, two months after an attempted coup which Ankara says was orchestrated by the network of US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen.

The journalist’s case has drawn criticism from human rights groups and Turkey’s Western allies. They are concerned by the scale of a post-coup crackdown against suspected Gulen supporters under President Tayyip Erdogan.

Altan smiled and waved as he was driven away by counter-terror squad police officers after being taken from his home in Istanbul, video and photos published by Turkish media showed.

He was taken to Istanbul police headquarters after a hospital check-up, state-owned Anadolu news agency reported.

Altan, his brother and other journalists were previously sentenced to life in jail for aiding Gulen’s network. Last week he was convicted again in a retrial, but released from jail given the time served.

Altan and the others deny the charges against them.

On Tuesday a higher court overruled the decision to release Altan, ordering his arrest on grounds that there was a risk of him fleeing, Anadolu reported.

Under last week’s verdict, Altan was sentenced to 10 years and six months in jail. Turkey’s high court had overruled the previous life sentences against him in July, sending the file back for re-trial.

Erdogan’s government has jailed more than 77,000 people pending trial since the failed putsch. Widespread arrests are still routine in a crackdown critics say demonstrates growing autocracy in Turkey.

Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, and his followers deny any involvement in the coup. Turkey has repeatedly called on the United States to extradite the cleric.