November 25 roundup: The political spotlight on Hong Kong and Israel

Hong Kong protest against the extradition bill

This roundup summarises the most important news stories around the world in the last two weeks (November 12 to 25, 2019).

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Political tensions in Hong Kong persisted, as the anti-mask law was ruled unconstitutional by the high court. The police and pro-democracy activists continued to be locked in a standoff – marked by some of the fiercest clashes since protests began – in the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Soldiers from China also took to the city’s streets for the first time, clearing roadblocks and debris. And in China itself, “The New York Times”, based on more than 400 pages of leaked documents, reported on the country’s mass detention of Muslim minorities. It is alleged that President Xi Jinping and his government responded after Uyghur militants killed dozens of people at a train station in 2014. China’s foreign ministry later lashed out at the newspaper.

In Israel, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a government, his rival Benny Gantz was not able to do so too. Lawmakers now have 21 days to identify a candidate who could command a majority of parliamentary seats. Otherwise, the country would hold its third election in a year. More dramatically, Mr. Netanyahu was later indicted on fraud, breach of trust, and bribery, making him the first sitting prime minister to be indicted.

Global and geopolitical developments: In Israel too, following the Trump’s administration recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights – in 2017 and 2019 respectively – it announced that Israeli settlements in the West Bank were not illegal. And in Afghanistan, an American and an Australian hostage, held since 2016, were freed in exchange for three high-profile Taliban members held by the Afghan government.

National and political developments: In India, the supreme court awarded the site of a mosque – demolished by Hindu zealots in 1992 – to Hindus planning to build a temple. The 1992 demolition was criticised by the court, and the government was also ordered to provide nearby land for the construction of a new mosque. In Iran, the government announced the increase of gas prices by 50 per cent, prompting protests across the country. Over 100 people have been reported to be killed. And in Spain, the prime minister’s Socialist party won the national elections, but took three fewer seats than in April and remain short of a parliamentary majority. The far-right Vox party made huge gains.

Finally, Venice, Italy experienced its worst floods since 1966, leaving two dead and buildings damaged. 85 per cent of the city was flooded.

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