Here is today's foreign policy mandate: Israeli The legislature wants to vote on the dissolution of parliament. The United States is demanding access to Eritrean Refugees in Ethiopia, and China-Australia Tensions simmer.
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Gantz supports the dissolution of the Knesset
Israel's unlikely coalition government is now on an even shakier footing than the Israeli legislature votes for the dissolution of the Knesset. Benny Gantz, leader of the Blue and White party and coalition partner of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said he would support the measure and start a showdown that could lead to another election – the fourth in two years.
Gantz 'decision is based on frustration over the government's failure to approve a 2021 budget which, if passed, would essentially be Gantz' Ability to become Prime Minister next November under the terms of the Likud-Blue coalition agreement and White in April. "Netanyahu has decided to dissolve the government and put Israel in an election," Gantz said in a statement to the media.
Hit Bibi while he's down? It could also be seen as an attempt by Gantz to attack Netanyahu while he is relatively weak. Although the Likud leader proved resilient in the eyes of Israeli voters in the March elections, public dissatisfaction with the coronavirus pandemic, months of protests against his rule, and an impending corruption trial could lead to an opportune time for Gantz to gather around enforce in new elections.
Today's vote is just one step into that future. Further readings of the legislation are required before the resolution can be confirmed. Gantz has also considered the possibility that harmony can be restored as long as Netanyahu agrees a budget by December 23rd.
A leader sniffed. While budget issues are the most immediate cause of the Knesset vote, recent developments have likely made Gantz concerned that Netanyahu will hand over government in November. Gantz was reportedly kept in the dark about Netanyahu's secret (and almost instantly leaked) visit to Saudi Arabia to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
New leader, new policy? US President-elect Joe Biden shouldn't expect an easier ride in Iran policy if Gantz takes power, an Israeli government source told foreign policy. There is "no daylight" between Netanyahu and Gantz on the question of the US-led "maximum pressure" campaign against Iran. Neri Zilber explores why Israel will remain a thorn in the side of any rapprochement between the US and Iran.
What we are following today
Fakhrizadeh fallout. The shock waves of the murder of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh by suspected Israeli agents continue to be felt across the Middle East. In response to the murder, the hardline-dominated Iranian parliament passed a law on Tuesday suspending international nuclear inspections in the country until sanctions are lifted. However, it is unlikely to have any impact as the country's nuclear policy is set by the Supreme National Security Council.
Meanwhile, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir has replaced allegations made by his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif about the Kingdom's involvement in the murder following a secret meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the Israeli one Prime Minister rejected Benjamin Netanyahu. “Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif is desperate to hold the kingdom responsible for everything negative that is happening in Iran. Will he blame us for the next earthquake or flood? “Jubeir wrote on Twitter.
Antonov speaks. Russia's ambassador to the United States will make rare public statements at a Brookings Institution event today. Ambassador Anatoly Antonov's work is made more difficult by the fact that his boss, Russian President Vladimir Putin, has not yet congratulated President-elect Joe Biden on his election victory. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said last week that the lack of a phone call should not be interpreted as a non-recognition of Biden's victory, but that Putin would congratulate Biden "in due course" and simply wait for "the election results to be summarized". ”
Refugee crisis in Ethiopia. Almost 100,000 Eritrean refugees in northern Ethiopia "now have no more food – which makes hunger and malnutrition a real danger," said UNHCR spokesman Babar Baloch. The refugees, who have lived in camps near the Eritrean border for more than a decade, have been cut off from United Nations aid due to the attack by the Ethiopian government on the Tigray region that began last month. The United States has called for immediate access to the refugees, in addition to the estimated 2 million people in Tigray who need help now.
Keep an eye out
Russia's island construction. Russia announced on Tuesday that it had deployed the S-300 missile system on the controversial island of Iturup, north of Japan's Hokkaido prefecture. Both Russia and Japan claim the island chain that Iturup is a part of, known as the Kuril Islands, although there is no international consensus on ownership. The combat mission marks a reversal of an earlier Russian statement made in October that the S-300 would only be used for military exercises, not in a combat stance.
Tensions between China and Australia. The US State Department described a tweet by Chinese government spokesman Zhao Lijian as a "new low" as tensions between China and Australia escalated after Zhao posted a pictorial model of an Australian soldier holding a knife to the throat of an Afghan child. China's State Department has dismissed international outcry over the use of the image – a reference to a damned report describing war crimes committed by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan – as excessive. The Twitter spit is the latest sign of mounting tension between the two countries after China began blocking Australian imports of barley, coal, corn, cotton and wine as Australia wanted to investigate China's role in the initial spread of the coronavirus.
Rules for you, not for me The reasons behind a Hungarian MP's surprise resignation in the European Parliament on Sunday emerged when Belgian media reported that Jozsef Szajer, a MEP from Viktor Orban's right-wing Fidesz party, had been arrested on the run from a predominantly male sex party in the center from Brussels. Police had disbanded the party for violating coronavirus restrictions and said at least two of the participants had claimed diplomatic immunity. Szajer's presence at the party will come as a shock to some as he is considered to be one of the architects of the increasingly anti-LGBT Hungarian policy, starting with his co-authorship of an amendment to the constitution calling for a definition of marriage between a man and a woman.
EU discord. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has urged Hungary and Poland to take their dispute over the mechanism to punish the bloc's rule of law to the European Court of Justice, instead of continuing to uphold her veto on the EU's coronavirus recovery package. Von der Leyen criticized the countries for "at the expense of millions of Europeans desperately waiting for our help because we are in the middle of a deep, deep crisis". A spokesman for the Polish government warned on Monday that "arbitrary criteria for assessing the rule of law in certain countries could lead to the collapse of the EU in the future".
Boy band rule. The South Korean parliament has passed a law to allow its K-pop stars to postpone compulsory military service. Under South Korean law, all able-bodied men between the ages of 18 and 28 are required to serve in the country's armed forces for approximately two years, which is a problem for bands like the global phenomenon BTS, whose oldest member is 27 years old. A change to the country's military service law means the culture minister can now recommend the postponement of entertainers up to the age of 30. Athletes and classical musicians have received a shift before, but never K-pop acts.
Intangible soup. If yesterday's kimchi news wasn't enough to whet your appetite, prepare for the borscht class. A Ukrainian chef has convinced his government to apply to UNESCO to anchor beetroot and cabbage soup as an intangible part of the country's heritage alongside French champagne and Neapolitan pizza. The Ukrainian government's decision angered Russia, whose government Twitter accounts were quick to suggest that many Eastern European countries have their own versions of borscht and it is "one of Russia's most famous and beloved dishes". Ukrainian historians deny the popular image of the soup's Russian origins, insisting that it was brought to Russia by Ukrainian migrants.
That's it for today.
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Photo credit: Jack Guez / AFP