Israel Prepares For Election

israelVoters in Israel are preparing to go to the polls in what is expected to be a tightly-fought election, to elect a leader.

Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, faces a challenge from a Centre-left Alliance that has promised to restore ties with the Palestinians and the international community.

Candidates from both parties spent Monday making one last appeal to voters. Neither side is expected to get more than a quarter of the votes.

While results could be declared soon after the close of polls, a definitive conclusion appears likely to take some time.

A lengthy period of negotiations over the formation of the next coalition government could follow.

No party has ever won an outright majority in Israel’s election, meaning it has always been governed by a coalition.

Much of the focus of the campaign has been on international issues, from Israel’s relationship with the United States to concerns over Iran’s nuclear programme.

But many of the candidates have concentrated on socio-economic problems in Israel, including the high cost of living and slow economic growth.

The future of the city of Jerusalem has been a central election issue.

Mr Netanyahu has consistently accused his centre-left challengers of being willing to relinquish Israel’s claim to Jerusalem as its indivisible capital in peace talks with the Palestinians.

Palestinians seek East Jerusalem – occupied by Israel since the 1967 Middle East war – as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

But Zionist Union party co-leader, Yitzhak Herzog, has accused Mr Netanyahu of “panicking”.

Visiting the Western Wall, one of the holiest sites in Judaism, on Sunday, he pledged to “safeguard Jerusalem and its residents in actions, not just words, more than any other leader”.

Kaduna Airlifts First Batch Of Pilgrims To Jerusalem

Jerusalem

The Kaduna State Government, on November 26, commenced the airlifting of the first batch of over 1000 intending pilgrims to Jerusalem amidst tight security.

Addressing the intending pilgrims at the Kaduna Airport before their departure, Governor Mukhtar Yero, urged them to be good ambassadors of the state and the country in general.

The Governor also urged them to pray for God’s intervention for the end of the current security challenges confronting Nigeria and the successful conduct of the 2015 general election.

The Executive Secretary of the Kaduna State Christian Pilgrims Board, Nuhu Buzun, also joined the Governor in urging the pilgrims to pray for peace and security in the state and country at large, while in Jerusalem.

He also admonished the pilgrims to shun all acts capable of tarnishing their image and that of the nation and also advised them not to abscond while in the holy land.

The Executive Secretary stated further that all arrangements, including transportation, accommodation and the overall welfare of all the intending pilgrims had been concluded.

Some of the intending pilgrims told our correspondents that their main aim of going to the holy land of Jerusalem was for moral transformation and spiritual rebirth, and most importantly to pray for the peace and stability of Nigeria.

The pilgrims, who were accompanied by some Pilgrim officials from the state, were sponsored by both the state and the 23 Local Government Areas of the state.

Nigerian Hospitalized In Israel Not Sick With Ebola

EbolaA Nigerian visitor who has been undergoing tests in an Israeli hospital after being admitted with a fever is not sick with Ebola, a hospital spokeswoman said on Saturday, a report on Reuters News Agency says.

The Nigerian, a health worker in her native country, was hospitalized and put in isolation after arriving in Israel several days ago.

Nigeria is one of five West African countries affected by the virus which has killed more than 2 100 people since March.

A spokeswoman for Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem said that after receiving her test results, the patient was being treated for a different illness.

“In coordination with the Health Ministry, the quarantine was lifted. There is no danger,” she said.

Suspects Held Over Palestinian Teenager’s Murder

teen murderA number of Jewish suspects have been arrested over the murder of Palestinian teenager, Mohammad Abu Khdair, whose death sparked days of violent protests in Jerusalem and in Israeli Arab towns.

Khdair was abducted in East Jerusalem. His body was found on Wednesday with first post-mortem examination findings suggesting he was burnt alive.

Investigators believe Mohammed Abu Khudair was slain out of “nationalist motives”, the source said, in comments that appeared to confirm Palestinian suspicions that far-right Jews were involved and that his death was a vengeance killing.

Abu Khudair’s burnt body was discovered in a Jerusalem forest, a day after the burial of 3 Jewish teens who were abducted while hitchhiking in the occupied West Bank on June 12.

Their bodies were found on Monday, near the road where they had gone missing, and Israel blames Hamas militants for their kidnapping and killing.

The Islamist group has neither confirmed nor denied involvement.

Palestinians have clashed with Israeli police in Jerusalem over the past several days. The violence spread on Saturday to Arab towns and villages in central and northern Israel.

Natl. Conference Modalities: There Should Not Be ‘No Go Areas’ – Adegbulu

A Security Analyst and Associate Professor at the Redeemers University, Dr. Femi Adegbulu has said that the forthcoming Nigerian National Conference should be a platform to discuss how the country would live together if at all it is to be together.

He made this assertion while appearing as a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, where he criticized the designation of the unity of Nigeria as a topic that should not be the discussed at the conference.

He explained that the unity of Nigeria was dependent on issues like the problems of Boko Haram, religion and the quota system which were rooted in culture and must be addressed at the conference. He provided his views on some of the issues.

While noting that Sharia law, as particularly practised in some parts of the country, has been politicised, he said that Nigeria’s security challenges had also worsened, with Boko Haram having grown into three categories; namely, religious, political and criminal. He pointed out that how to identify them was a responsibility of government.

He said: “We need a deterrent mechanism whereby culprits are well dealt with for the people to see”. He also berated the legal system in Nigeria and the slow judicial process, insisting that it affects the fight against terrorism.

Speaking further on the issues of Boko Haram, Adegbulu blamed the government for being part of the issues and berated the governments’ religious inclinations. He said that government should not have a hand in religion. “Why should government be sponsoring people to Hajj and Jerusalem? Religion is personal”, he queried.

While he suggested tactical interventions, he also admitted that there was no way the country could grant all the demands of the sect. “There is also a place for counter terrorism to ensure that they are wiped out,” he stressed.

Dr Adegbulu also said that the National Conference must also acknowledge that “one of the things to be discussed is true federalism”, which according to him is the same as resource control, which is a system that empowers regions to control their resources with government paying tax based on the resources of those regions.

“The system whereby states begin to go cap in hand to get allocation from government is an anomaly”, he said.

He also protested that a system whereby someone who scores 60% and is not admissible sees someone else with 12% having access to the commonwealth must not continue and must also be discussed at the conference.

Although Government representatives have said at different occasions that such irregularity would not be allowed anymore in the country, Adegbulu said that most of the policies must be seen implemented before he would believe any promises made by the government, because government officials would always tell Nigerians “we are working on it”.

Adegbulu insisted that the idea of having the unity of Nigeria as a ‘no-go area’ during the National Conference was not acceptable.

He asked: “Are we really united?” He noted that Americans do not ask questions about their citizens’ state of origin; because being an American was enough to enjoy privileges they are entitled to.

The Associate Professor admitted that the fear of the Nigerian government was a possible breakup, pointing out that the panacea for breaking up is to discuss it. “We must inaugurate a system of equity where everyone feels a sense of belonging.”

He stated that Nigeria cannot expect the best of patriotism from a Nigerian who having scored good marks still feels cheated while seeking admission to a university, all in the name of catchment area.

Suspected ‘Price Tag’ settlers desecrate church in Jerusalem

Vandals daubed “Death to Christianity” on a Jerusalem church on Monday (February 20) in the second such attack in the holy city this month.

The words “Price Tag”, a slogan used by ultranationalist Jewish settlers, were also scrawled on the walls of the Baptist Narkis Street Congregation in a quiet residential neighbourhood in Jewish west Jerusalem.

The graffiti also included profanity about Jesus, and the vandals slashed the tyres of several cars parked in the church compound.

The “Price Tag” term refers to retribution settlers say they will exact for any attempt by the Israeli government to curb settlement in the occupied West Bank, an area Palestinians seek as part of a future state.

Two weeks ago, similar graffiti was scrawled on the 11th-century Monastery of the Cross which is also in west Jerusalem but no suspect have been arrested, according to the police.

“Price Tag” attacks have in the past targeted mosques, Palestinian homes and Israeli military installations in the occupied West Bank.

Reuters