News In Brief

Palestinian targets in Gaza City were under attack by Israeli helicopters and, reportedly, Navy ships as the Monitor went to press. The assault was in retaliation for a remote-controlled explosion earlier in the day against a passing school bus that killed two Jewish settlers and injured nine other people, at least three of them seriously. The Palestinian Authority denied responsibility for the explosion, which it pledged to investigate. But Israeli Cabinet members said Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat should share blame since he had freed known radicals from jail in recent weeks. (Story, page 1.)

Despite the bus attack, Israeli right-wing opposition leader Ariel Sharon rejected another call to join Prime Minister Ehud Barak in a government of emergency. And a key coalition partner, the Shas Party, again said it would withdraw its support for Barak in parliament next week.

Rebellious members of the ruling party in Japan backed down from plans to support a no-confidence vote against unpopular Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, and it appeared he would cling to power at least a while longer. The vote on Mori had yet to take place as the Monitor went to press. If he should lose, he must resign within 10 days or call a new national election. Meanwhile, 66 percent of respondents in a newly released public opinion poll said Mori should step down.

The future remained a mystery for Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori, who had yet to submit his promised resignation and was keeping out of view in a Tokyo hotel. A statement said only that he would not comment further until he had left office. Japanese officials said Fujimori had not sought political asylum, as widely rumored, and likely would stay "until he is done with his diplomatic duties." He could apply for residency in Japan because his parents were born there. Fujimori had two vice presidents, who normally would head a transitional government, but one has quit and the other reportedly has little political support.

Five Islamic militant groups based in Pakistan rejected an offer by the Indian government for a unilateral cease-fire in the disputed state of Kashmir during the holy month of Ramadan. Pakistan's Foreign Ministry also attacked the proposal as "tactical" and "part of India's effort to impose a military solution" in the state, which the two sides have fought three wars over. At least one of the groups announced plans for new guerrilla operations during Ramadan, which begins later this month.

Over vehement protests, elections officials awarded the governorship of Mexico's economically powerful Jalisco state to the candidate of President-elect Vicente Fox's National Action Party. Delayed results of the Nov. 12 voting gave Francisco Ramirez a 2.5 percent margin over Jorge Arana of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which has ruled Mexico for 71 years. Arana rejected the finding and vowed a legal challenge. The PRI had hoped to use Jalisco as a key stepping-stone to launching a quick comeback after Fox's decisive victory in July.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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