Jewish Power courted by Israeli PM and other stories

Although votes are still being counted in Israel’s parliamentary election, it appears Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is on course to partner with Jewish Power, a party referred to by pro-Israel lobbyists The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac) as ‘racist and reprehensible’. 

Jewish Power makes up the wider alliance of the Religious Zionist party who have taken more seats than predicted in the early results of this election and are now being courted by Mr Netanyahu to join a variety of other parties. 

The party is formed of ideological successors to Meir Kahane, a supporter of Jewish theocracy and the expulsion of Palestinians and set up the militant Jewish Defense League in the US, regarded by the FBI as a right-wing terrorist group. 

Jewish Power is led by attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir, a defender of Israeli settlers implicated in violence against Palestinians.

Ben-Gvir was convicted in 2007 for inciting racism.   

Today Ben-Gvir told his supporters: “a right-wing government will strengthen the Jewish identity of the country”.

Angela Merkel cancels Germany shutdown 

Plans for a five-day shut down in Germany over the easter break have been cancelled today by Chancellor Angela Merkel. 

The decision was announced this afternoon following a last-minute video conference with the 16 state governors who are responsible for all decision-making surrounding Germany’s Covid restrictions, including the decision to instigate stricter restrictions over Easter announced only yesterday. 

The plan, which saw a shut-down of public life amid the current lockdown restrictions, raised logistical concerns and has since been referred to by Merkel as a “mistake” that could not be implemented in time and that “must be corrected.” 

Despite the U-turn on the Easter shutdown, the Chancellor has confirmed that decisions taken with the state governors offer a “framework” in which to fight the new wave of coronavirus infections, of which there were 15,815 new infection cases reported in the past 24 hours.  

There have been 75,000 deaths recorded in Germany since the outbreak of the pandemic a year ago.

Hong Kong suspends Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine 

Hong Kong and Macau have both suspended the use of the Pfizer covid Vaccine following reports of one batch of vials having defective lids.  

Embed from Getty Images

The news was reported to both cities by Fosun, the Chinese pharmaceutical company responsible for distributing the Pfizer/BioNTech covid vaccine in China.  

While both cities do not believe there is any risk to those who have had vaccines from the batch in question, authorities have decided to act with caution until the investigation is concluded.  

Over 150,000 Hongkongers have been vaccinated with their first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and with the cities unsure as to when they can attain more vaccines many remain uncertain as to when their second jab will be. 

Suez Canal, cargo ship still grounded 

The MV Ever Given container ship that was stranded on Tuesday in Egypt’s Suez canal is still grounded and canal authorities are working to free it.  

Photo: Ever Given grounded in Suez Canal. Source: Suez Canal

Earlier today, port agent GAC reported that the 400m-long (1,312ft) cargo ship had been partially refloated and that the marine traffic of the East-West waterway was slowly resuming.

However, Ahmed Mekawy, an assistant manager at GAC’s Egypt office, revealed that the update was inaccurate. 

A backhoe and several tugboats have been seen attempting to free the container ship and the vessel has been moved alongside the canal bank, allowing the first ship from one of the blocked convoys to move. 

Since the stranded Ever Given is still blocking the passage of dozens of other vessels, the local authorities have reopened the canal’s older channel to divert traffic. 

According to Evergreen Marine Corp, a Taiwan-based shipping company and operator of the Ever Given, the cargo has been turned sideways due to the strong winds that hit the area.

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