Signs that an early election in Israel may be on the horizon strengthened as advisers to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said he would schedule one if the opposition Labor Party demands it. Israelis normally would not vote for a new government until next November. But new Labor leader Amir Peretz has vowed to pull his party out of Sharon's coalition and has said he'll ask the prime minister to set an election date Friday. Peretz is believed to be seeking a vote as soon as March.

While international help in coming to the aid of Oct. 8 earthquake victims is appreciated, Pakistan's president said his country needs another $5.2 billion to rebuild areas devastated by it and its aftershocks. Pervez Musharraf said only "negligible" funds had been received so far, although "I have spoken to world leaders, and their responses have been very positive." Should the target not be reached, however, he said his country would fend for itself. The magnitude-7.6 quake is blamed for more than 87,000 deaths, most of them on Paki- stani soil.

Another 163 cars were set on fire and a church was heavily damaged by rioting Muslim youths in France Tuesday night, but officials said the nation was returning to an "almost normal situation, and some local curfews were being lifted. The latest violence came hours after passage by the lower house of parliament of a measure that would extend the state of emergency by three months, until the middle of February. The Senate is expected to approve it also. Meanwhile, a new opinion poll showed Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy's handling of the three weeks of violence won him an 11-point gain in public approval, making him the nation's most popular politician. Sarkozy is presumed to be a candidate to succeed President Jacques Chirac in 2007.

Efforts to internationalize who governs the Internet produced an 11th-hour compromise Tuesday night that leaves control of its domain-name system with the US. Negotiators from more than 100 countries at the UN's World Summit on the Information Society in Tunisia agreed that despite three years of controversy, oversight of the private Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers (CANN) should not change. It is that system that has resulted in such suffixes as .com, .uk (for Britain), .fr (for France), and the like. Other nations had warned of potential misuse unless the system was policed by the UN. The compromise avoids the potential establishment of two competing standards.

A second day of protests by Kurdish demonstrators in southern Turkey was met by police firing warning shots and tear gas. One protester was killed in the clash, bringing to at least four the number of deaths so far. The renewed violence comes at a time when Turkey is under heavy pressure to improve its treatment of autonomy-seeking Kurds if it wishes to join the European Union.

Published reports that war-crimes fugitive Ratko Mladic is less than a month from being handed over to the UN tribunal for the Balkans were neither confirmed nor denied by Serbia's government. But a police commander in neighboring Bosnia said his forces and those in Serbia were "working on having Mladic find himself [before the tribunal] by the end of the year." The reports, in two Belgrade newspapers, said Mladic would be arrested by Dec. 15 if he doesn't surrender voluntarily. He is believed to have been hiding in Serbia or the Serbian sector of Bosnia. A onetime general in the army of the former Yugo-slavia, he's under indictment for the murders of 8,000 Muslim males at Srebrenica in 1995.

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