Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's political future was at stake as thousands of members of his Likud Party voted in a referendum on moving the date of their convention 10 months ahead. But Sharon and his archrival, Benjamin Netan-yahu, effectively turned it into a vote of confidence in his pullout from the Gaza Strip, and aides have suggested that if the date is changed against his wishes, he may quit Likud and form a new party. Meanwhile, Hamas announced it had bowed to the wishes of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and agreed not to use Gaza as a staging ground for further attacks against Israel.

In another in their relentless wave of attacks as Iraq's Oct. 15 constitutional referendum approaches, terrorists invaded a Shiite elementary school in Iskandariya, south of Baghdad, and shot five teachers and a driver to death. Until now, teachers largely have not been targets for terrorism. Witnesses said the attackers were disguised in police uniforms. In Baghdad itself, a terrorist rammed his explosive-laden car into a bus carrying Oil Ministry employees, killing at least 10 people.

An estimated 130 tons of guns, rocket launchers, land mines, plastic explosive, and other weapons in the Irish Republican Army's arsenal have been put beyond use, the organization and independent witnesses announced Monday. The claim was echoed in a report to the governments of Britain and the Republic of Ireland by retired Canadian Gen. John de Chastelain, who has led the independent commission charged with overseeing IRA disarmament. But the Rev. Ian Paisley, leader of Northern Ireland's largest Protestant political party, called the announcement "the falsehood of the century."

An Al Qaeda leader was sentenced to 27 years in a Spanish prison for conspiring with the 9/11 hijackers. But the nation's Supreme Court dismissed all of the more serious charges against him and 23 codefendants, sparing them each a lifetime behind bars. After a 2-1/2-month trial, the latest in a series of high-profile terrorism cases across Europe, the court ordered Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas, a Syrian, to serve 12 years for leading an Al Qaeda cell and 15 more for "conspiracy to commit terrorist murder." Eighteen others, one of them an Al Jazeera reporter, received terms of 6 to 27 years. The trial was unrelated to the March 2004 train bombings in Madrid that killed 191 people.

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