Benjamin Netanyahu corruption trial resumes

Agencies
July 19, 2020

Occupied Jerusalem, Jul 19: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial resumed on Sunday.

Netanyahu is charged with fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in a series of scandals in which he is alleged to have received lavish gifts from billionaire friends and exchanged regulatory favors with media moguls for more agreeable coverage of himself and his family.

Netanyahu denies wrongdoing, painting the accusations as a media-orchestrated witchhunt pursued by a biased law enforcement system.

The trial opened in May. Just before appearing in front of the judges, Netanyahu took to a podium inside the courthouse and flanked by his party members bashed the country’s legal institutions in an angry tirade.

Netanyahu was not expected to appear at Sunday’s hearing, which is taking place at an occupied Jerusalem court and is mostly a procedural deliberation.

The trial resumes as Netanyahu faces widespread anger over his government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis.

While the country appeared to have tamped down a first wave of infections, what’s emerged as a hasty and erratic reopening sent infections soaring. Yet even amid the rise in new cases Netanyahu and his emergency government — formed with the goal of dealing with the crisis — appeared to neglect the numbers and moved forward with other policy priorities and its reopening plans.

It has since paused them and even re-impose restrictions, including a weekend only lockdown set to begin later this week.

Netanyahu’s government has been criticized for a baffling, halting response to the new wave, which has seen daily cases rise to nearly 2,000. It has been slammed for its handling of the economic fallout of the crisis.

His trial thus comes at inopportune timing. Netanyahu had hoped to ride on the goodwill he gained from overcoming the first wave of infections going into his corruption trial, but the increasingly souring mood has affected his approval rating and may deny him the public backing he had hoped for. The anger has sparked protests over the past few weeks that have culminated in violent clashes with police.

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Arab News
January 11,2021

Jeddah, Jan 11: The Saudi Health Ministry has said that its vaccination campaign is key to achieving herd immunity after it revealed that more than 178,000 of the Kingdom’s residents have received a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) jab.

“We aim to provide the vaccine to all and build herd immunity in Saudi Arabia,” said Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly. “We believe that this is the most powerful way to achieve herd immunity, which in return will provide optimum protection from the virus.”

As a testament to the success of precautionary measures, the number of confirmed cases in the Kingdom has steadily declined since peaking in mid-June last year.

In a press conference on Sunday, the ministry spokesman said that indicators have shown a 97.6 percent decrease in cases since the peak. “This reflects the level of control Saudi Arabia has on the spread of COVID-19,” he said.

The ministry reported 117 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total number of infections since the start of the pandemic in March last year to 363,809.

The number of active cases has dropped below the 2,000 case mark, with 1,970 active cases, 309 of which are in critical care units — an 86.6 percent decrease since a peak during last summer.

Only three of the Kingdom’s 13 regions recorded case numbers in the double digits. Riyadh led with 47, while Makkah and the Eastern Province both recorded 22 cases each. Najran and Al-Jouf reported one case each.

The number of COVID-19-related deaths in the Kingdom has also fallen. With Sunday’s five fatalities, Dr. Al-Abd Al-Aly said that there has been a 91.4 percent decline since the peak mortality rate seen last summer.

There were 166 new recoveries reported, raising the total number of recoveries to 355,548. The Kingdom’s recovery rate remains steady at 97.7 percent.

The spokesman said that the recovery rate rose dramatically following the Kingdom’s battle to detect the disease early and provide patients with top healthcare.

More than 11.3 million polymerase chain reaction tests have been conducted in the Kingdom since the beginning of the pandemic, including 28,324 completed over the past 24 hours.

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Agencies
January 17,2021

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Abu Dhabi, Jan 17: With the number of Covid-19 cases in the country hitting a record high of 3,432 on Saturday, Abu Dhabi has once again tightened norms for entering the emirate.

The Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Committee has updated procedures to enter Abu Dhabi from within the country, effective from Sunday, 17 January, as part of the proactive efforts and precautionary measures to contain and eliminate the spread of Covid-19. pic.twitter.com/MIkfqUEDZg

— (@admediaoffice) January 16, 2021
From Sunday, stringent measures followed till the last week of December will be implemented in the emirate, the Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Committee for the Covid-19 Pandemic said on Saturday. But there is reprieve in travel restrictions for people who are fully vaccinated or volunteers of the Phase 3 clinical trials.

This latest development is announced following the number of Covid-19 cases increasing consistently this month and remaining more than 3,200 for the past four days.

Taking precautionary measures, from Sunday, a person needs to enter the emirate of Abu Dhabi within 48 hours of receiving a negative PCR or DPI test result instead of 72 hours, which was in place from December 24.

Also, a person needs to take mandatory PCR tests on day four of entry for those staying for four days or more, and on day eight of entry for those staying for eight days or more. The day of entry into Abu Dhabi is counted as day one. Since December 24, a person entering Abu Dhabi had to take only one additional PCR test on the sixth day.

The procedures apply to all citizens and residents, including Abu Dhabi residents, except for those vaccinated as part of national vaccination programmes and volunteers of the Phase 3 Clinical Trials who have received status (letter ‘E’ or gold star) on their Al Hosn app. According to the last available information, till January 10 some 250,000 people have received the second dose.

Meanwhile, the committee has urged community members to continue their cooperation and commitment to follow preventive and precautionary measures.

Those who fail to follow the procedures are liable for fines.

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News Network
January 20,2021

Tehran, Jan 20: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani urged US President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday to return to a 2015 nuclear deal and lift crippling sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

Biden, who takes office on Wednesday, has said the United States will rejoin the pact that includes restrictions on Iran's nuclear work if Tehran resumes strict compliance.

"The ball is in the US court now. If Washington returns to Iran's 2015 nuclear deal, we will also fully respect our commitments under the pact," Rouhani said in a televised cabinet meeting.

"Today, we expect the incoming US administration to return to the rule of law and commit themselves, and if they can, in the next four years, to remove all the black spots of the previous four years," he said.

Tensions have grown between Tehran and Washington since 2018, when US President Donald Trump exited the deal between Iran and six world powers that sought to limit Tehran's nuclear programme and prevent it developing atomic weapons. Washington reimposed sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy.

Iran, which denies ever seeking nuclear arms, retaliated to Trump's "maximum pressure" policy by gradually breaching accord. Tehran has repeatedly said it can quickly reverse those violations if US sanctions are removed.

Antony Blinken, Biden's choice for secretary of state, said on Tuesday the United States would not take a quick decision on whether to rejoin the pact.

"US President Donald Trump's political career is over today and his 'maximum pressure' policy on Iran has completely failed," Rouhani said. "Trump is dead but the nuclear deal is still alive." 

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