Facing a hostile parliament for the first time in three months, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak said his government no longer has "a partner" for peace and warned Palestinians they'd "achieve nothing" through continued violence. His 30-minute speech to the opening of the Knesset's winter session was interrupted frequently by right-wing hecklers, and angry Arab legislators walked out in protest. Barak did not mention his so-far unsuccessful bid to forge a "unity" government with Ariel Sharon, leader of the Likud movement.
Israeli Army units trained in guerrilla warfare will be used from now on to respond to Palestinian-initiated gunfire, a senior defense official warned. He spoke after a security guard was killed and another seriously wounded at close range in an Arab neighborhood of Jeru-salem. The same official also warned Syria it would be targeted for harsh retaliation if it did not stop supporting cross-border attacks against Israel by Hizbullah guerrillas in neighboring southern Lebanon.
OPEC members announced they would up their output of crude by 500,000 barrels a day starting today, in another effort to try to bring prices down to the $22-$28 range. The cartel already has boosted production three times in the past 12 months, but prices have climbed as high as $35 a barrel, threatening inflationary damage to the world economy. In London, the benchmark Brent crude was trading at $30.90 a barrel yesterday. A year ago, OPEC was selling oil at $17.47 a barrel.
A remote-controlled car bomb in Madrid killed a justice of Spain's Supreme Court and two aides and injured 35 others in the most serious attack blamed on the Basque separatist group ETA since it ended its 14-month cease-fire last December. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but a spokesman for ETA's political wing said the attack was proof that Spain and France could not deal effectively with the Basque problem. Another in a series of massive protest marches against ETA violence was called for today in Madrid.
A campaign to impeach the president of Taiwan was attracting increasing support after his cancellation late last week of a $5.6 billion nuclear power plant. Chen Shui-bian halted construction on the facility as "a matter of conscience" since Taiwan has a waste-disposal problem due to three existing nuclear facilities. The project was pushed through in 1996 by the Kuomintang Party (KMT) government before Chen became president. The KMT, which still controls the most seats in parliament, initiated the impeachment effort. It was quickly backed by one minority party, with another expected to follow.
"Sweeping reforms" were promised by Philippines President Joseph Estrada as he sought to stem the growing pressure on him to resign over his alleged involvement in a bribery scandal. But he repeated a vow not to quit and called on some of his severest critics to attend a National Security Council meeting next week to resolve "our crisis."
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society