December 2014 Current Events: World News
Here are the key events in world news for the month of December 2014.
Netanyahu Fires Cabinet, Calls Early Elections (Dec. 2): Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fires two senior Cabinet ministers and calls for early elections. Netanyahu orders the dismissals of Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni in a statement. The statement also calls for dissolving the parliament as soon as possible and quotes Netanyahu as saying, "I will not tolerate an opposition within the government any more. I will not tolerate ministers attacking government policy from within the government." The dismissals show a deep divide in the current government. Livni and Lapid are both leaders of two separate centrist parties in Israel. In recent weeks, they have been Netanyahu's most vocal critics. The current government has only been in office since early 2013. An early election is set for March 17, 2015, two years ahead of schedule.
Hong Kong Protests End (Dec. 14): In a move that signals the end of the protests in Hong Kong, police clear tents from the main protest area, ten weeks after the protests began. The Chinese government does not make any concessions, but the protesters make clear that they can challenge the government. These are the largest protests since the 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstrations.
Armed Man Holds Hostages in Sydney Cafe (Dec. 15): An armed man holds 17 employees and customers hostage for more than 16 hours in a downtown cafe in Sydney, Australia. The armed man is identified as Man Haron Monis, an Iranian-born, 50-year-old man with a criminal record. (Dec. 16): After being held for 16 hours, six hostages escape the cafe. Soon after, gunshots are heard inside and police storm the building. Three people are killed, including two hostages and Monis.
Taliban Attack an Army-Run School, Kill Dozens (Dec. 16): The Taliban attacks the Army Public School and Degree College in Peshawar, in northwest Pakistan. At least 145 people are killed in the siege, including more than 100 children. It is the most brazen and deadly attack by the Taliban in years. A Taliban spokesman says the attack is in retaliation for the military's offensive against militant hideouts in North Waziristan.
Cuba Releases American Prisoner (Dec. 17): Cuba frees U.S. aid contractor Alan Gross, who had been sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2011 after his effort to create a way to communicate outside of the Cuban government's control. The government cites humanitarian grounds as the reason for Gross' release. In response to the prisoner release, President Barack Obama announces that he will begin working with Cuba on resuming full diplomatic relations between the two countries for the first time since 1961.
Palestinian State Resolution Fails to Pass U.N. Security Council (Dec. 30): A draft resolution, which would have set a deadline to establish Palestine as a sovereign state, fails to pass the 15-member U.N. Security Council. The resolution proposes a one-year deadline for Israel to negotiate and asks for a full withdrawal of Israeli forces by 2017. Eight countries vote in favor of the measure, including Russia, China, and France. However, nine votes are needed to adopt the measure. The United States and Australia vote against it while Britain and the four other remaining nations abstain. (Dec. 31): In reaction to the failed measure, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas asks the International Criminal Court to let the Palestinian Authority join it. "There is aggression practiced against our land and our country, and the Security Council has let us down - where shall we go? We want to complain to this organization," Abbas says of the court as he signed the court's founding charter, the Rome Statute, from his office in Ramallah. The move can lead to even more conflict in the Middle East, including the possibility of Israeli officials being prosecuted by the court for war crimes. Abbas promises to resubmit the failed U.N. Security Council resolution and continue to work to make Palestine a legal state. As of Dec. 2014, 135 countries officially recognize Palestine.