Hamas militants blew a hole in the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Egypt Thursday so Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh could return from a foreign fund-raising tour with $35 million in donations. Israel, which had ordered the Rafah crossing closed, said it didn't object to Haniyeh's return but had inftelligence indicating that some of the cash would be used for future terrorist attacks. Haniyeh cut short his trip because of daily violence between Hamas and rival Fatah. But more shooting occurred Thursday as Hamas members tried to keep a suspect in the murder of three sons of a Gaza intelligence chief from being arrested.
A partial suspension of Turkey's bid to join the European Union is expected to pass Friday when leaders of the 25-member bloc vote on the matter. It already has been endorsed by their foreign ministers because the government in Ankara refuses to open fully to trade with Cyprus, whose Greek sector is an EU member. Analysts say the response by Turkish leaders to the suspension will be critical. The Muslim-majority nation already was facing lengthy and difficult negotiations to join the EU, and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to seek reelection next year amid rising Islamist anger at the Europeans.
Political opponents of Canada's minority Conservative Party government will try to topple it early next year via a motion of no confidence in Parliament, a published report said Thursday. The French-language La Presse newspaper said the Bloc Quebe-çois will introduce the motion Feb. 13, basing it on Prime Minister Stephen Harper's handling of the Canadian military mission in Afghanistan. More than 40 Canadians have died in combat there this year while serving with NATO forces. Other parties want the troops to be brought home or have called for them to be switched to infrastructure-rebuilding projects. Harper's party came to power in January, but with only 124 of the 308 seats in Parliament.
A controversial proposal that would give hard-line Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe an extra two years in office appears headed for passage this weekend at a convention of his party, ZANU-PF. Mugabe has ruled without interruption for 26 years and his current term expires in 2008. While he appears to favor his deputy, Joyce Mujuru, as heir-apparent to the presidency, others in ZANU-PF are promoting Rural Housing Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, and analysts say the rivalry is threatening to split the party. Critics, however, predict that Zimbabwe's flagging economy will only worsen with Mugabe at the helm until 2010.
Hundreds of thousands of well-off Bolivians are expected to jam the city of Santa Cruz Friday in protest against leftist President Evo Morales's plan to rewrite the Constitution. Smaller rallies also are planned in other cities. Morales has pledged to give the poor indigenous population a greater voice in national affairs, and he maintains that the plan needs only a simple majority in parliament to pass. But opponents argue that a rewritten charter requires a two-thirds supermajority, with some threatening to split Bolivia in two over the issue.
The furor that threatened a constitutional crisis in the Netherlands ended with the caretaker government agreeing to strip Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk of her post but leaving her in the cabinet until a new coalition is in place. For refusing orders to halt the deportation of thousands of illegal asylum-seekers, she was censured by parliament Wednesday – a move that normally would require her to quit. But her VVD Party, a partner in Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende's outgoing coalition, vowed to pull out if she was forced to resign.