Calling human bombing missions "a process of legitimate self-defense," Hamas and Islamic Jihad repeated vows to ignore Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's new appeal that they stop. Arafat issued the call, in Arabic, late Wednesday after the second bombing in Jerusalem in 36 hours killed seven more Israelis. He said a continuation of the attacks might result in "full Israeli occupation of our lands." But he did not use the word "terror" and complained again that Israeli military actions were "preventing all our efforts" to halt the violence.

Meanwhile, Israel activated a 1,200-man brigade of military reservists, added Bethlehem, Tulkarem, and Beitunia to its list of occupied Palestinian cities, declared all Jewish settlements in the West Bank off-limits to non-Israelis, and rocketed Palestinian targets in the Gaza Strip, Hamas's base.

The just-concluded work of Afghanistan's loya jirga appeared threatened as President Hamid Karzai's choice for education minister refused to accept his post. Yunis Qanuni, the ethnic Tajik who served as interior minister in the interim administration, was holding out for a more senior job, aides said. The problem is significant because most of Afghanistan's police, who report to the interior ministry, are fellow Tajiks, whereas Qanuni's successor in that post is an ethnic Pashtun.

Prosecutors finished their presentation and lawyers for the four men charged with kidnaping and murdering Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl are to open their defense today in a Pakistan courtroom. They are not expected to call witnesses on behalf of British-born Muslim militant Ahmed Omar Saeed or his codefendants, and legal analysts said the trial could end next week. Pearl disappeared in Karachi Jan. 23; remains believed to be his were not found until last month.

The unpopular sale of two electric utilities in Peru to a foreign buyer was suspended by President Alejandro Toledo to try to calm tensions that have led to a week of violent protests, strikes, and a state of emergency. Toledo asked a court to rule on the issue, the worst crisis in his 11-month-old rule. But that did not satisfy his interior minister, who submitted an "irrevocable" resignation over Toledo's handling of the situation.

A plane carrying ex-President Didier Ratsiraka was expected to leave Paris as the Monitor went to press, with the longtime leader of Madagascar assumed to be headed for an emergency meeting on the nation's political crisis. The session is to open today in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It was unclear whether Ratsiraka would return home afterward. If so, his successor, Marc Ravalomanana, said he'd be arrested and subjected to unspecified criminal charges. Ratsiraka left Madagascar – and a months-long struggle for power with Ravalomanana – last week, but rejected suggestions that he'd gone into exile.

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