Hong Kong government officially kills controversial extradition bill
On Oct. 23, the government of Hong Kong officially withdrew the controversial extradition bill that first prompted the ongoing protests. Introduced in April 2019, the bill would have allowed the extradition of Hong Kong citizens to mainland China for various offences. This particular bill sparked months of protest due to its perceived violation of the “one country, two systems” doctrine that has governed Hong Kong since the early 1980s. Although this formality has been somewhat expected, it marks the first tangible concession from Carrie Lam, the chief executive of Hong Kong, and her administration.
Although this withdrawal is important, it is unlikely that this will substantially change the attitudes of the protestors due to the presence of a number of other demands. In addition to the tabling of the bill, the protesters have asserted four other demands: the withdrawal of the bill, the retraction of the “riot” designation that the protests have received, the release of arrested protestors and the expungement of their records, universal suffrage, and an investigation into widespread allegations of police brutality.
Abortion and gay marriage legalized in Northern Ireland
On Monday, Northern Ireland decriminalized gay marraige and abortion. The change comes because of a British parliament resolution last year to bring the nation’s laws in line with the rest of the U.K. if the Northern Ireland Parliament had not formed a government by Oct. 21. As of midnight Monday, the U.K. parliament will regulate abortion services in Northern Ireland, but same-sex marriage will not be legal until January.
Northern Ireland has not formed a governing coalition for over two years due to broken down disputes between Catholic and Protestant parties. Catholic politicians and other opponents of these measures have yet to admit defeat and claim to be exploring legal options to reverse the changes.
Netanyahu admits defeat, Gantz to try and form government
On Wednesday, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin tapped former military chief Benny Gantz to form a governing coalition in the country’s parliament. This comes after several weeks of failed government building on the part of Benjamin Netanyahu, the country’s Prime Minister for over a decade. Gantz will have less than a month to form the new government, after which time a third election may be held.
“Everyone expects us to bring the political chaos to an absolute end,” Gantz said. Netanyahu gave Gantz the opportunity to form a “unity government” by uniting the Prime Minister’s Likud Party with Gantz’ Blue and White Party. Gantz refused this offer, and cited the possible indictments of Netanyahu as the reason.