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Clear victory for Israel’s Netanyahu with 97% of vote counted

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Clear victory for Israel’s Netanyahu with 97% of vote counted

The conservative bloc of Israeli opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu is set for a clear election victory on Wednesday, with 86 percent of the votes counted.

His right-wing religious camp has managed to secure a majority of 65 of the 120 seats in parliament, according to Israeli media reports.

Netanyahu’s Likud party is reportedly the strongest force, with 31 parliamentary seats.

The Incumbent Prime Minister, Yair Lapid’s Future Party was set to come second, with 24 seats.

For the first time in Israel’s history, an extreme right-wing alliance looks set to come third.

The Religious Zionist Party of Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir is seen as a possible kingmaker for Netanyahu.

The leftwing Meretz party, as well as the Arab party Balad, could fail to clear the 3.25 percent hurdle.

The final result is expected by Thursday.

Palestinian Prime Minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh has raised concerns about Israel’s swing to the right, asking the international community to “protect our people against aggressive Israeli policies after racist parties come to power in Israel.’’

The election outcome is the “natural result of years of rising extremism and racism in Israeli society,’’ he said in a statement, adding: “we had no illusions that the Israeli election would produce a partner for peace.’’

However, voter turnout was comparatively high, at 71.3 percent of the approximately 6.8 million eligible voters when the polls closed at 10:00 p.m. (2100 CET) on Tuesday.

Netanyahu, who is being investigated for corruption, is eyeing his second comeback as head of government.

The 73-year-old has been prime minister several times, for a total of more than a decade and a half – longer than anyone else in Israel’s history.

Netanyahu is seeking to form an ultra-right religious coalition that could help him pass legislation to avoid conviction.

The party landscape in Israel is highly fragmented and interest-driven, due in part to personal disputes and a low hurdle to enter parliament, even parties from similar camps were often unable to form alliances.

 

– dpa

 

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S. Korea’s childbirths hit record low in Nov.

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S. Korea’s childbirths hit record low in Nov.

 The number of babies born in South Korea has reached yet another record low in November, data showed on Thursday, reflecting the country’s dire population crisis.

A total of 18,982 babies were born in November, plunging 4.3 percent from the previous year, according to data from Statistics Korea.

This, the data said, marked the lowest number for any November since the statistics agency started compiling related data in 1981.

South Korea remains dogged by a chronic decline in childbirths as many young people delay or give up on having babies in the face of an economic slowdown and high home prices.

However, between the periods of January and November, a total number of 231,863 babies were born, down 4.7 percent from a year earlier.

Its total fertility rate, the average number of children a woman bears in her life-time came to just 0.79 in the third quarter, the data showed.

In 2021, it stood at 0.81, marking the fourth straight year to hover below one. It was much lower than the replacement level of 2.1 which would keep South Korea’s population stable at 51.5 million.

South Korea, which first reported more deaths than births in 2020, is also widely expected to maintain the trend for the third consecutive year in 2022.

Over the January-November period, South Korea had 107,004 more deaths.

The number of deaths came to 30,107 in November, up to 6.1 percent from a year earlier.

Meanwhile, the data showed that the number of marriages rose to 2.2 percent on-year to 17,458 in November as more people tied the knot following the ease of  COVID-19 regulations.

Divorces fell by 3.1 percent on-year to 8,498 in the month.

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Zelensky repeats his rejection of negotiations with Putin

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Zelensky repeats his rejection of negotiations with Putin

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has reiterated his rejection of negotiations with Russia before a withdrawal of Russian troops.

“Talks would only be possible if Russia withdraws its soldiers, admits its mistake and there is a new government in Moscow,’’ Zelensky said on Thursday.

“ Only then would talks be possible,’’ he said.

The president had already banned negotiations with Russian President Vladimir Putin by decree at the end of September 2022.

Zelensky stressed that a meeting with Putin made no sense. “It is not interesting for me. Not interesting to meet, not interesting to speak,” he said.

“They don’t want talks, and that was the case even before the invasion. President Putin decided so.”

He said he was convinced that Ukraine was only the first step for Putin.

“Before the war, there were meetings with Putin.

“I saw a man who said one thing and then did another,” Zelensky said.

“Who is he now? After a full-scale invasion, for me, he is a nobody.” 

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Suspect arrested over Spain letter bombs

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Suspect arrested over Spain letter bombs

Spain Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska said a suspect has been arrested two months after letter bombs in Spain were sent to several Embassies and Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, among others.

The state television station RTVE and other media on Wednesday reported the police as saying that the 74-year-old man was arrested on the street in Miranda de Ebro, about 300 kilometres north of Madrid.

The Spanish government had not ruled out at the time that the series of letter bombs at the end of November could have been connected to the war in Ukraine.

A total of six items had been sent to Sánchez and to the embassies of the U.S. and Ukraine, among others.

A defence company, whose products were delivered to Ukraine, as well as Defence Minister Margarita Robles and the EU satellite centre at the Torrejón airbase, had also received letter bombs.

As media reported, citing the police, the consignments contained homemade mechanisms with a relatively small amount of pyrotechnic material and small metal balls.

However, only one device exploded causing hand injury to an employee of the Ukrainian embassy.

dpa.

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