Yasser Arafat called the vote by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Likud movement Â– ruling out statehood for Palestinians Â– "the destruction of the Oslo accords." The vote was seen as tying Sharon's hands in future dealings with the Palestinians. Meanwhile, Arafat, using a borrowed Jordanian helicopter, toured West Bank cities targeted by Israeli forces in last month's counterterrorism offensive. He did, not, however, visit Jenin, scene of the worst violence. (Related story, page 7.)
The 13 Palestinian gunmen allowed to leave the Church of the Nativity for exile abroad will be absorbed by members of the European Union as soon as this week, the group announced. They were identified as Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Belgium, Italy, and Greece. All but one of the Palestinians are housed in a Cyprus hotel after the 39-day standoff at the historic church. The other is receiving hospital treatment for a leg injury. Israel has sought their extradition.
The number of refugees returning to Afghanistan now has topped the 500,000 mark from neighboring Pakistan alone since the beginning of March, a UN official said. But the UN said only a fraction of the $4.5 billion pledged to help rebuild Afghanistan at an international conference in Tokyo in December has been converted into usable cash. Meanwhile, British troops in eastern Afghanistan ended a two-week mission, reporting the destruction of caves and bunkers as well as "a vast arsenal of weaponry" but no encounters with Al Qaeda or Taliban fighters. Above, at Kabul's airport, brothers Abdul Rashid (r.) and Abdul Khadil greet each other after the latter's return from refuge in Indonesia.
Merchants locked their stores and frantic parents left work to search for their children in Liberia's capital as mortar and artillery fire could be heard in the distance. But it was unclear whether antigovernment rebels or President Charles Taylor's forces were in control of a river bridge 15 miles from Monrovia, one of the Army's last lines of defense. The current rebel offensive is the third since February to come within striking distance of the capital.
The outpouring of grief at the murder of Dutch nationalist leader Pim Fortuyn appears likely to improve his party's prospects in today's election, a late opinion poll showed. Previous surveys indicated Fortuyn's List, the anti-immigrant movement he founded after being forced out of the centrist Leefbaar Netherlands Party because of his views, would win perhaps 26 seats in parliament. That number climbed to 28 Monday. Such a showing could make Fortuyn's List the second-largest block in the legislature in only its second month of existence.
The website set up under the name of terminally ill Diane Pretty has attracted more than 17,000 signatures on a petition supporting doctor-assisted suicide, sources in Britain said after her passing. And members of Parliament from various parties plan to meet today to discuss whether to attempt new legislation that would decriminalize the practice. Pretty died Saturday, less than two weeks after losing the final appeal of her legal fight to commit suicide with the help of her husband.