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The News in Brief

Monday, November 21
Health Minister says universal health care program will continue

Universal health care program will continue - Health Minister Davit Sergeenko told reporters.

"The universal health care program will continue. There will be changes and these changes will ensure that the available resources will be used more effectively and will be oriented to those who are in more need.

“There will be changes in several directions, but all of them will be aimed at increasing benefits for the population within the existing budget," said the Health Minister.

New Parliament Elects Committee Chairs

The new Parliament elected at its inaugural session on November 18 chairpersons of 15 committees and all of them are lawmakers from Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia.

The newly elected chairpersons of parliamentary committees are:
Committee for Legal Issues – EkaBeselia, who led the Committee for Human Rights and Civil Integration in the outgoing Parliament;
Committee for Defense and Security – Irakli Sesiashvili of GDDG, who will retain this post;
Committee for Foreign Affairs – Sopo Katsarava, who previously served at the British Embassy to Georgia;
Committee for Human Rights and Civil Integration - Sopo Kiladze, former deputy rector of the Interior Ministry’s Police Academy;
Committee for European Integration – Tamar Khulordava, former deputy minister in charge of the penitentiary system; she served at the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia for years;
Committee for Healthcare and Social Issues – Akaki Zoidze, who was deputy state minister till November 2003 in charge of healthcare issues;
Committee for Finances and Budgetary Issues – Irakli Kovzanadze, former CEO of state investment fund, Partnership Fund;
Committee for Sector Economy and Economic Policy – Roman Kakulia, former head of the EU Program Coordination Department at the Office of the State Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration;
Committee for Education, Science and Culture – Mariam Jashi, former deputy healthcare minister; later she led the Solidarity Fund;
Committee for Agrarian Issues – Otar Danelia, former agriculture minister from July 2014 to September 2016;
Committee for Environment Protection and Natural Resources – Kakha Kuchava, a corporate lawyer, who joined GDDG in July;
Committee for Regional Policy and Self-Government – Giorgi Liluashvili, deputy mayor of Tbilisi in 2016; earlier he served as the Chairman of Cartu Bank’s supervisory board;
Committee for Procedural Issues and Rules – Giorgi Kakhiani, who retains this post;
Committee for Diaspora Issues – Zviad Kvachantiradze, who led the parliament’s majority group in the previous parliament;
Committee for Sport and Youth Affairs - Mikheil Kavelashvili, former footballer.

The legislative body also defined the number of representatives of political parties in committees. In particular, in 17-member committees GDDG will have 11 members, UNM – 4 members and Alliance of Patriots – 1 member; in 15-member committees GDDG will have 10 members, UNM – 3 members and Alliance of Patriots – 1 member. Deputy chairpersons will be elected by the members of parliamentary committees.

Israel prepares to turn away asylum seekers from Georgia and Ukraine

Israel might begin rejecting asylum requests from citizens of Georgia and Ukraine, Tel Aviv-based newspaper Haaretz reports.

The past two years have seen a surge in asylum requests by Ukrainians and Georgians, as citizens of these countries are using a visa waiver system to enter Israel, the newspaper writes.

Israel’s Interior Ministry has asked Ministry of Justice to approve the new policy, according which citizens of Georgia and Ukraine would be denied political asylum summarily.

Georgia and Israel signed an agreement in November 2013 which allowed Georgian citizens to stay in Israel for up to 90 days without a visa.

Three years ago, only four Georgians sought asylum in Israel. The number grew to more than 700 last year, while this year the figure has swelled to about 3,069.

Most Georgians who apply for asylum in Israel cite as reason political pressure in their homeland. Ukrainians often apply to avoid mandatory military service and escape the tension in Crimea.
(DF watch)