JERUSALEM: Israelis vote in an election that could hand conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a record fifth term or see him dethroned by an ex-general who has pledged clean government and social cohesion.
Dubbed “King Bibi” by both Time and Economist magazines, Netanyahu has rallied a rightist camp hardened against the Palestinians and played up Israeli foreign policy boons that are the fruit of his ties with the Trump administration.
But the 69-year-old Likud party leader
s hope of overtaking Israels founding father, David Ben-Gurion, as longest-serving premier in July has been dented by a looming graft indictment. He denies any wrongdoing.
Critics warn of “Bibi fatigue” and argue that the parliamentary election should bring fresh faces to high office.
Stalking Netanyahu in the opinion polls has been Benny Gantz, a former chief of the armed forces and centrist political novice. Buttressed by two other former generals at the top of his Blue and White party, Gantz, 59, has sought to push back against Netanyahu`s self-styled image as unrivalled in national security.
“This is a choice between a strong right-wing government under Netanyahu or a weak leftist government under Gantz,” Likud said in a statement. Gantz told Reuters in response: “Netanyahu is not the messiah, nor an irreplaceable legend. The people of Israel long for something else.”
With little policy daylight separating the two candidates on Iran and the Palestinians, or on Israel`s humming economy, much of the voting will by guided by the question of their character.
In vitriolic campaigns waged largely over social media rather than in town squares or street corners, they have exchanged escalating allegations of corruption, of fostering bigotry and even of conspiring with Israel`s adversaries.
Netanyahu casts himself as the victim of media bias and judicial overreach. Gantz casts himself as a salve for Israel`s religiously and ethnically riven society and its relations with liberal Jews abroad.
“This election is about one thing – whether or not Netanyahu should remain in office. It`s the only thing that really defines 12 out of the 13 parties which will be in the next Knesset,” said Anshel Pfeffer, author of the biography “Bibi: The Turbulent Life and Times of Benjamin Netanyahu”.
Which man wins is unlikely to be decided when the polling stations close at 10 p.m. (1900 GMT). No party has ever won an outright majority in the 120-seat parliament, meaning days or even weeks of coalition negotiations will lie ahead.
Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin, will consult with the leaders of every party represented in the Knesset and choose whoever he believes has the best chance of forming a government.
Sikhs third most targeted religious group in US after Jews, Muslims: FBI report
New York, Nov 13: The Sikh community is the third most commonly targeted religious group after Jews and Muslims in the US, according to an annual report released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), reported PTI.
According to a press release issued by the FBI, the 2018 data shows the largest number of hate crimes based on religion were reported against Jews (835), followed by Muslims (188) and Sikhs (60). There were 64 offences against Sikhs with 49 known offenders and 69 victims.
Another 91 hate crimes were reported against other religions, including 12 against Hindus and ten anti-Buddhist crimes.
The data, submitted by 16,039 law enforcement agencies, provides information about the crimes motivated by bias toward race, ethnicity, ancestry, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender, and gender identity.
In total, at least 7,120 hate crimes were reported by law enforcement agencies across the US, slightly down from 7,175 in 2017, the report states.
Sikh Coalition, a New York-based think tank that defends Sikh civil rights, said in a statement that it remains a “disheartening” fact that hate crimes remain systematically underreported across the US.
“While hate crimes remained relatively steady nationally, reported anti-Sikh hate crimes rose by 200 percent since 2017, making Sikhs the third most commonly targeted religious group in the dataset,” it said.
“At the end of the day, this data simply isn’t giving us the accurate information we need to effectively counteract hate against targeted communities,” said Sim J Singh, Sikh Coalition Senior Manager of Policy and Advocacy.
“It’s past time for action. Congress must pass the next generation of common-sense legislation that equips law enforcement to better identify and track hate incidents,” he said.
The FBI reports as many as 148 hate crimes against Asians in 2018, while those against Arabs were 82, anti-American Indian or Alaska Native (194).
According to the Federal Bureau of Justice Statistics, Americans experience an average of 250,000 hate crimes per year; this latest FBI data, by contrast, only managed to document 7,120 incidents, with less than 13 per cent of law enforcement affirmatively providing reports of hate crimes, it said.
Pak allows Jadhav to file appeal in civilian court
New Delhi, Nov 13: New Delhi: Pakistan is amending its Army Act, under which former Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav was sentenced to death, in keeping with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) direction to allow him the right to file an appeal in the civilian court.
News agency ANI quoted Pakistani media as saying on Wednesday that the act in its present form forbids individuals or groups being tried in military courts from filing an appeal in the civilian court, but special amendment was being made for Jadhav.
Jadhav, a retired Indian navy commander, was tried as a spy under the act by the Pakistani military after he was captured in 2016. India says that he was kidnapped by Pakistani agencies from Iran and brought to Pakistan. Pakistan had claimed that Jadhav was arrested from its restive province of Balochistan. It notified India about it through a press release on March 25, 2016, 22 days after he was picked up.
Jadhav, who hails from Powai in Mumbai, was subjected to an opaque military trial, which sentenced him to death on April 10, 2017, even as Pakistan government kept rejecting India’s repeated pleas for consular access.
The ICJ, which was moved by India on May 8, 2017, gave a detailed verdict this year, rejecting all the objections of Pakistan, including one unanimously on the admissibility of the case and also the claims by Islamabad that India had not provided the actual nationality of Jadhav.
In the judgment, the ICJ said that it was satisfied that Jadhav was an Indian national and that the fact had been acknowledged by both Pakistan and India.
The court, in its ruling by 15-1, ordered “a continued stay of execution” on Jadhav, saying it “constitutes an indispensable condition for the effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence” of the accused.
It said it “finds that the appropriate reparation in this case consists in the obligation of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to provide, by the means of its own choosing, effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence of Mr. Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav, so as to ensure that full weight is given to the effect of the violation of the rights set forth” in the Vienna Convention on consular access.
Following the ICJ ruling, India was granted consular access to Jadhav on September 2 but Pakistan has refused to “share any further details” of the meeting between Jadhav and Indian Charge d’ Affaires Gaurav Ahluwalia in a Pakistani sub jail. It has since then ruled out a second consular meeting but the Ministry of External Affairs said it will keep making efforts to ensure the ICJ verdict is fully implemented. (Agencies)
Pakistan exporting ‘terror’, stifling women’s voices for narrow political gains: India at UNSC
UNITED NATIONS: India lashed out at Pakistan for raising the issue of women’s rights in Kashmir in the UN Security Council, saying the country represents a system that has been exporting militancy and “regressive” extremist ideologies and “stifling” women’s voices for narrow political gains.
India’s strong response came after Pakistan’s outgoing UN envoy Maleeha Lodhi commented on the situation in Kashmir, revocation of Article 370 and women’s rights in the Valley during the debate on October 29.
“As everyone today focuses on collective action, one delegation rhetorically regurgitates about women’s rights in my country,” First Secretary in India’s Permanent Mission to the UN Paulomi Tripathi said Monday at a Security Council open debate on Women, Peace and Security.
Without naming Pakistan, Tripathi said the delegation “represents a system that has been exporting terrorism and regressive extremist ideologies, and stifling women’s voices for narrow political gains. This has devastated lives of generations of women and their families, in our region and beyond.”
Alluding to Islamabad’s habit of raking up the Kashmir issue at various UN forums and committees, Tripathi said the country habitually makes baseless allegations without any relevance to the agenda under consideration and this has “become a staple for this delegation.”
She referred to Lodhi’s comments on Jammu and Kashmir during the October 29 debate as well as during a previous debate on the “Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question”.
Asserting that India firmly rejects the baseless allegations, Tripathi said “the Council has not paid attention to such deceitful narratives in the past, and we are confident that the Council will continue to do so, to ensure that its agenda is not used as a ploy for furthering territorial ambitions.”
In her remarks to the debate, Tripathi underscored that violence against women and girls perpetrated by terrorists remain rampant and subjugation of women in public and in private spheres continue across situations that are on the agenda of the Council.
“It is important that the Council strives to effectively integrate women, peace and security considerations into sanctions regimes, including by listing terrorist entities involved in violence against women in armed conflicts,” she said.
Further, Tripathi highlighted the positive impacts of greater participation of women in UN peacekeeping but voiced concern that women make up only 4.2 per cent of military personnel in UN peacekeeping missions.
“We ought to encourage participation of all women units to achieve the set targets in this regard,” she said.
Tripathi pointed out that a trend in which in order to accommodate those who cannot fulfill the commitments of providing all women units to peacekeeping missions, mixed units are being given preference by diluting the policy frameworks.
“If this continues, we possibly cannot achieve the set targets,” she said as she added that India remains committed to increasing the number of women peacekeepers and has deployed a Female Engagement Team in UN Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) earlier this year.