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Pardee Perspective: May 31st, 2019

Middle East

Israel – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has failed to form a coalition government. In response, a bill was passed through the Knesset that would dissolve the newly elected parliament and require new elections be held on September 17, 2019. This is the first time in Israel’s history that an elected prime minister has been unable to form a coalition government. After the election on April 9th, it was assumed that Netanyahu would create a coalition with Yisrael Beiteinu party and a group of ultra-Orthodox parties. Unfortunately for Netanyahu, former defense minister and leader of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, Avigdor Lieberman, is demanding legislation on a mandatory military draft that would include previously excluded ultra-Orthodox Jews be drafted. The drafting of this legislation is strongly opposed by the group of ultra-Orthodox parties and it has caused mass infighting in what once seemed like a strong coalition. In addition to coalition chaos, Netanyahu’s Likud Party has pledged to work for parliamentary immunity from prosecution for Netanyahu, who the Israeli attorney general intends to charge with corruption, fraud, and bribery. These legislative moves ignited protests in the streets of Tel Aviv.

Africa

South Africa – The new cabinet announced by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is gender-balanced, with one woman for the opposition being appointed as minister of infrastructure development and public works. This move toward gender equality comes after similar moves in Ethiopia and Rwanda. While the announcement was looked on favorably by many South Africans, critics argue that Ramaphosa is simply recycling the same group of leaders from previous administrations. In addition, Ramaphosa chose to retain Deputy President David Mabuza, who has faced corruption allegations in the past.

Asia

China: A candlelight ceremony has been held in memory of those who died in the Tiananmen Square massacre in China some three decades ago. The incident happened when protesters hit the streets to demand a more democratic Chinese nation, but a police response to the protest resulted in the loss of several hundreds of lives in Hong Kong. A member of a group called the Tiananmen Mothers, representing parents who lost their children in  the massacre says that, they are determined to fight  for justice. ‘The grief threatened to crush us, but it has now been transformed into our motivation to fight for justice,’ Zhang Xianling said. Since the beginning of the vigil in 1990, participants have called for revamping the pro-democracy movement, release of dissidents, end of the one-party rule, justice for lives lost and a democratic China.

Americas:

US:  The United States has restricted travel to Cuba for its role in destabilizing the Western Hemisphere and “providing a communist foothold in the region and propping up U.S. adversaries in places like Venezuela and Nicaragua by fomenting instability, undermining the rule of law, and suppressing democratic processes, according to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. This follows comments made by National Security Adviser, John Bolton, signalling a possible crackdown of cruise travels to the country which he called ‘veiled tourism.’ Since President Obama reopened diplomatic relations with Cuba in 2016, cruises have become  the most common way to visit the country. Most cruise companies and airlines are reviewing the new directive to access the impact on their operations. The new regulations will also affect cultural trips, as well as fishing vessel and yacht stops in Cuba.

Europe

UK: President Trump has assured the UK of a trade deal which he described as ‘phenomenal’ after leaving the EU. Speaking at a joint press conference with outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May, he added that all options for trade are on the table. Trump praised May for her Brexit negotiations and once again, showed his support for Brexit. Brexit ‘will happen and it probably should happen” because the UK is ‘a great, great country and it wants its own identity,’ Trump said at a news conference. He also added that, the UK and the US will collaborate to ensure that Iran does not acquire nuclear weapons.

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