News In Brief

Just under 60 percent of Israelis responding to a respected opinion poll want some sort of peace deal to be reached at the Camp David negotiations, the Maariv newspaper reported. But in the survey by the Gallup organization, half of the respondents said they'd vote against the most commonly heard hypothetical agreement. It would require Israel to surrender 90 percent of the West Bank and Gaza for a Palestinian state, would allow thousands of Palestinians to return to homes they abandoned at the creation of modern Israel in 1948, and would yield sovereignty to Palestine over key parts of Jeru-salem. Prime Minister Barak has promised to put any deal reached with the Palestinians to a vote in a national referendum.

A final verification tour of the Israel-Lebanon border was to be taken by senior officials after the UN's special Middle East envoy declared "we have hit a point of zero violations" of the dividing line. Terje Roed Larsen was charged with ensuring that Israel had pulled back from all places where it still encroached on the border after withdrawing the last of its troops from southern Lebanon in late May. But Israel also complained of violations by stone-throwing Lebanese, some of whom attempted to cut through the border fence as well. Verification that the border is clear has held up deployment of a 5,000-man UN peacekeeping force.

Renouncing his violent past, one of the most notorious members of a pro-British paramilitary force was released from Northern Ireland's Maze prison. Michael Stone walked free after serving 11 years of a life sentence for killing Catholic mourners at a Belfast funeral in 1988 and others in unrelated sectarian attacks. He said he now supports the province's 1998 Good Friday peace accord, under which the high-security prison is to be closed by the end of the year. Some equally notorious Catholics are to be released later this week.

Tens of thousands of college students returned to classes in Myanmar (Burma) almost 3-1/2 years after the ruling junta shut down all but the country's institutes for military study. The closure followed large demonstrations by antigovernment dissidents. Students wishing to resume their studies were required to sign a declaration that they will not engage in political activities, and two universities that were hotbeds of dissent in the capital, Yangon (Rangoon), remained almost deserted.

Two days of peace negotiations opened on neutral soil between the government of Colombia and the country's second-largest leftist rebel movement. In Geneva, the National Liberation Army (ELN) was pushing for a zone free of government troops similar to one already granted to the larger guerrilla movement, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. But analysts said violent clashes last week between ELN fighters and a right-wing paramilitary force made it likely that little would be accomplished in the talks.

A heavy "yes" vote made it all but certain that the proposed new constitution for Ivory Coast would pass a national referendum, early returns showed. But confusion blamed on organizational problems kept polling places open for a second day. The charter would return the country to civilian rule after the government was overthrown by the Army last Christmas Eve.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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